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  • Delaney Hayden

YDSA’s Palestine Initiative

By: Delaney Hayden, Asst. News Editor

On Thursday Feb. 29, 2024 at 4 p.m. in Horan O’Donnell, the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) hosted a screening of the documentary “Tantura” (2022).

According to the movie ratings and reviews organization, IMDb, “Tantura” is set “In the war of 1948 [where] hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated. Israelis call it 'The War of Independence. Palestinians call it 'Nakba.’ The film examines one village-Tantura and why ‘Nakba’ is  taboo in Israeli society.” (IMDb).

The Griffin sat down with the president of YDSA, Hawa Saleh, before the event and asked her about the importance of the event, her role as the president of the YDSA and why she chose this documentary in particular to show at the event. She was also asked about what she would like the student body at Canisius to know. 

Saleh shared that she believed the importance of the screening revolved around the idea that “This was the first documentary that I have ever seen that has truly jarred me. The Palestinian cause has been denounced so many times that to hear from the soldiers themselves” was especially powerful. She noted that the “primary sources speak so candidly about [Israeli] involvement in the Nakba and ethnic cleansing of only one of the many Palestinian villages” and that the straightforwardness “left me shocked to my core.” Saleh reflected on how the film also led her to wonder how many different Tanturas there are.

Saleh believed it to be of importance to host the showing of this film “since the Nakba is a palpable trauma that lies within the Palestinian consciousness.” She believed it to be imperative to emphasize how the Nakba is seen by Israelis, as well. Saleh posed the question, “How can the suffering and displacement of others be erased, and how can a new society prosper on that historical burden?” 

Regarding the student body at Canisius, Saleh wants them to “ultimately know that Palestinians deserve to live and that they should not be regarded as collateral damage in this genocide.” She continued, “They should not be turned into refugees to enter the diaspora against their will.”

She also shared: “There is a need to see who is a civilian and who is a combatant — to act like those two statuses are the same would be to condemn an entire country to death, and that should go against every fiber of our moral being.” “Tantura,” Saleh said, will hopefully “leave people more curious than they were before they walked in.” She expressed the importance of the event in helping the community learn and expand their worldview. “If people were to leave with a desire to know more rather than a willingness to know less, then I would consider that to be a success.”

The screening of “Tantura” sparked meaningful discussions about the Palestinian narrative as a whole. As the event concluded, it became evident to those in the room that the impact of the documentary would extend far beyond the confines of the screening room, resonating with individuals committed to fostering understanding and advocating for justice in the face of adversity.

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