Menu JTA Search

Behind the Headlines a Documentary on Terrorism

“Terror in the Promised Land, ” ABC- TV’s hour-long documentary on Palestinian terrorism, its roots and its goals, to be aired tomorrow at 8 p.m. (E.S.T.) aver the entire ABC network of some 200 stations, will no doubt increase the average American viewer’s sympathy for the Palestinians.

However, the film can also boomerang against the tactics of Palestinian terrorism. On the eve of the signing of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, the violence advocated by Palestinian leaders can lose them the public opinion they are seeking in the Western world.

The film, which was pre-screened privately for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by ABC, is skillful work, professionally executed and includes authentic footage of terrorist training and attacks. Its deposition of the wretched living conditions of the Palestinian refugees provides some very poignant moments.

As a whole, the documentary is anti-Israel nor pro-Palestinian terrorism. But the viewer is left with the overall impression that the Israelis, the target of the outrageous terrorist acts of which part are shown in the film, bear the bur den of responsibility for the miserable, intolerable conditions in which the refugees live.

For example, refugees are shown living in poverty, garbage-filled streets of the crowded refugee camps; women mourn after their dwellings are destroyed by an Israeli reprisal attack. The scene then shifts to an Israeli kibbutz with its green lawns, swimming pool and small neat houses. The conclusion the viewer draws from this contrast is obvious, especially when a member of the kibbutz, interviewed in the film, says with an obvious expression of unease on her face, “Yes, we built the kibbutz on Arab land.”

ONE-SIDE ELEMENTS IN THE FILM

The documentary says that Israel refuses to that the Arab countries refuse to absorb the refugees and let them re-build their lives.

At the same time the documentary fails to mention that the Palestinian refugees fled their homes in what is now Israel after they were promised by Arab leaders that they would return to their homes as soon as Israel was crushed and that Israel did not drive them out; that the Arabs refused to accept the 1947 United Nations partition plan, including a Palestinian state; and that more than 600,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands have been resettled in Israel, and there fare, a east.

Frank Reynolds, the narrator of the documentary, mentions during the program that Israeli Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon declined to appear in the film to answer charges that Israel expropriated Arab land for its own needs. His refusal is to be regretted. Although there were cases in which Arabs were forced off their land by individual Israelis, this was neither the official pattern nor policy of the Zionist movement. In deed, the official Zionist policy was to try to find ways of living harmoniously with the Arabs and of encouraging the Arabs to remain.

Reynolds states in the opening of the broadcast that it is “about Palestinian men and women who resort to violence to advance their political cause. The violence is often inflicted on innocent victims well as on the selves, for they insist they are prepared to die to achieve their goal.”

The film does not try to glorify the terrorists, but the result could be just that. Throughout the film young terrorists declare: “We go on suicidal missions because we have a cause and principle and a land,” or “better to die in one’s own homeland than outside of it, “or ” don’t really care if I am remembered as a hero after I die.” The terrorists who express these ideas are young, very young, and their innocent faces belie their sinister, murderous actions.

NEXT STORY