Motti Lerner and historical truth

Motti LernerRecently I wrote about Israeli Arab playwright Mohammed Bakri and his “artistic” concept of historical truth.

Apparently some Jewish Israelis have similar ideas. For example, take Motti Lerner (please):

Lerner, the grandson of one of two woman presumed to have revealed to the Turkish authorities the spying activities of Sarah Aharonson in Zichron Ya’acov in 1917, leading to her arrest, torture and eventual suicide, is a theater personage of note. He has previously staged Messianic Pangs, The Murder of Isaac – with its infamous urination scene – and Bus 300, as well as Kastner’s Trial among others…

…it was the Kastner play that attained for him a place in all Israeli law schools – and no small amount of notoriety – when the subject of “freedom of expression” is taught.

In its script, produced for Channel 2 television more than a decade ago, Lerner takes liberal license with his Hannah Szenes character and suggests she handed two Palestinian Jewish parachutists over to the Hungarian police.

The incident not only didn’t take place; it couldn’t have. Szenes was already imprisoned when the parachutists arrived in the Hungarian capital. The scene was a figment of Lerner’s imagination…

Now Lerner has a fresh project. [Israeli TV] Channel 2 will soon be showing a Lerner docudrama that purportedly portrays what happened when the Altalena arrived in Israel in June 1948.

Already, evidence is mounting that Lerner will be taking liberties with history. [Altalena survivor] Yoske Nachmias learned that his character in the series will be firing a submachine gun at IDF soldiers at the Kfar Vitkin beach, a clash that occurred a day prior to the shooting that took place off Tel Aviv’s beachfront; and that Menachem Begin will be hiding behind the Nachmias character, trying to protect himself.

The real Nachmias observes that this scene is completely fabricated. But neither the producer nor scriptwriter, as far as we know, appear to be interested in correcting the distortion. — Yisrael Medad, Jerusalem Post

Like Bakri, Lerner feels that it’s his artistic mandate to ignore facts in the service of a higher truth: for Lerner, that peace is better than war. Unfortunately, even when he tries to explain how one gets peace instead of war he displays an inability to understand the nature of historical truth:

We must continue investigating our accepted narrative of the history of Zionism, the establishment and consolidation of the State of Israel. This narrative was created by politicians, historians, teachers, journalists and writers, who believed that it would serve our survival. It includes, for example, a description of the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, according to which with the outbreak of the War of Independence when five Arab states attacked Israel, 700,000 Palestinians who lived among us were given a promise by their leaders that they would return triumphant to their villages, and so they packed up their belongings and left. This description is inaccurate. Many Palestinians were expelled by the Israel Defense Forces and many others fled under armed threat, while in some places there was actual massacre. The Israeli narrative serves the self-image of many Israelis, thus reinforcing their identification with their state, but it does not serve the advancement of the peace process. — Motti Lerner, Playwriting in Wartime

Lerner is correct that “this description is inaccurate”. But it’s a straw man that nobody takes seriously. He is correct that some Palestinians were expelled, and that some fled in fear. But they feared a war that the Palestinians began and the Arab nations prosecuted, a war that came as the culmination of the project of expulsion of Jews from Palestine which had been under way for perhaps 40 years.

The outcome of the war, which seems to weigh on Lerner, was that the Jews won, and from that time the Arab nations have done their best to refuse any settlement that would not reverse this and end the Jewish state.

So what does “serve the advancement of the peace process”? Changing history whenever possible to make Jews and Israelis look like monsters?

Or facing the reality that the Arabs will not stop trying to destroy Israel by violence until they come to believe that this is impossible?

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One Response to “Motti Lerner and historical truth”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Lerner’s action was especially ugly, the desecration of the memory of one who gave her life for the Jewish people. That she is a great hero and legend in Israel is of course good reason for the anti-Zionist Lerner to defame her.
    Shame shame shame.