The creation of the state of Israel in May 1948 is referred to by Palestinians as Al Nakba, the Catastrophe.
The five characters in this film, two Israeli and three Palestinian women, were all born in 1948. But few events in history have determined such sharply contrasting outcomes for people who might otherwise have much in common as the founding of Israel has.
For Rena Rejev, an Israeli of Ukrainian origin, who lives in Rishon LeZion there’s the joy of being born on 14th May, Independence Day. “At school, for friends and relatives, I was the one and only ‘Independence Girl’,” she says, and feels that the day’s celebratory flags and fireworks also mark her birthday. “Independence Day has become a part of me,” she says. By contrast, Latifa Yousef, a Palestinian living in Cairo, finds difficulty expressing how she feels on her birthday in August, which reminds her that her country was “violated”. “The occupation is closely linked to my life and it just increases my pain,” she says.
Madlen Abergel Vanunu, an Israeli of Moroccan origin, has a strong conviction that God only brought her into the world once the state of Israel had been founded. But Fayrouz Arafa, who was born in Gaza on the 8th October 1948, recalls: “I was a refugee. We were poor, hungry and lived in a tent. It haunts me.” Equally, for Khadija Zoraiqi, a Palestinian living in the Occupied West Bank, her birthday just makes her sons’ imprisonment in Israeli jails harder to bear and signifies that, for her, the Nakba continues today. “Every birthday I feel this catastrophe twice over,” she says.
These are the dramatic human stories of life after 1948, made all the more powerful through the inter-cutting of the intimate interviews with these five women. Born in ’48 explores how 67 years on, starkly contrasting narratives persist, with very little, if any, common ground between them.