Uncomfortable truths

ISRAEL: A personal connection draws light to the story behind how Israel obtained the land it sits on today.

(Translated from English by Google Gtranslate)

Michal Weits grew up in a famous Israeli family. Her great-grandfather Joseph Weits, known as the Father of Forests, for decades headed the Jewish National Fund that bought up Arab lands in Palestine as part of a policy to populate the Holy Land with Jews and drive the process of the Israeli state.

Michal always loved and revered the memory of the man everyone in the family still refers to simply as Grandfather Weits, feeling a connection to the ancient paterfamilias every time she visited a forest in Israel where once there had been only rock and dust.

But as she grew up and became more curious, she learned that not all was sweet in the garden of her grandfather’s memory. Joseph Weits was also known as the Architect of Transfers – a man who raised money internationally from the Jewish Diaspora through donations in tins known as Blue Boxes – and spent it on buying up Palestinian lands with the express intention of evicting the local inhabitants and ensuring their transfer, preferably beyond the borders of the Israeli state he dreamed of.

«For a long time, all I saw was the beauty before the cracks in the picture began to appear», Michal admits in the opening frames of Blue Box, getting its Israeli premiere in the national competition of Tel Aviv’s DocAviv.

Blue Box, a film by Michal Weits
Blue Box, a film by Michal Weits

No room

An early Zionist settler in Palestine, Russian-born Joseph arrived in Jaffa in 1910 and headed straight inland to join other immigrants working the land. He soon saw that the only way to build a Jewish state was for Jews to settle, populate, and make it their own. In that vision, there was no room for Arab neighbours.

A faithful diarist, Weits recorded his life in reams of bound black notebooks – which Michal likens to a Black Box, detailed and full of candour, the 5,000 page trove (which remains with the family) records his beliefs unvarnished: «After the Arabs are transferred, the country will . . .

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Nick Holdsworthhttp://nickholdsworth.net/
Our regular critic. Journalist, writer, author. Works mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
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