Watch Farha on Netflix

Farha tells the true story of a young Palestinian girl surviving the Nakba in 1948 by hiding in a small, locked storage room.

This eye-opening and heartbreaking film is based on the experiences of a friend of writer and director Darin Sallam’s mother, and shows events tragically familiar to Palestinians around the world.

Farha is under attack for accurately portraying the horror of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

More on the film, history, and opposition

Farha Vividly Depicts Palestinian History Through The Eyes Of A Teenager

Toronto International Film Festival Review

FARHA_Trailer_English subtitle from Picture Tree International on Vimeo.

Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage, September 11, 2021

The text reads: Palestine, 1948. That’s all you need to know to understand what’s coming. A year earlier marked the start of the Palestinian Civil War between Jewish and Arab residents after the United Nations recommended the land’s separation in a Jewish and Arab state. Israel declared independence in May of 1948 and, as some history books describe it, a mass exodus arose to render about half the nation’s pre-WWII Arab population (700,000) into refugees without a home. To simply call it an exodus, however, is misleading. Most of these people didn’t choose to leave as a means of finding settlement elsewhere. They were driven out by Israeli military forces who in turn destroyed villages and murdered so-called “rebel forces” in an ethnic cleansing that continues today.

As anyone following the news knows, using the term genocide for what happened / is happening has always been a hotly disputed topic thanks to some people’s inability to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. And being that America is a huge Israeli ally, advocating for the lives and freedoms of a Palestinian people who had their land stolen from them—only to subsequently be treated like second-class citizens upon the land they were given (that was then also stolen despite agreements made)—is likely to get you labeled the latter. We’re accordingly taught to dismiss Palestinians as terrorists like many other Muslim groups. It’s thus important for Arab artists and historians to dare combat that stereotype by telling their stories too. Darin J. Sallam’s drama Farha is one.

In it she details the real-life tale of Radiyyeh, a 14-year-old girl whose village was destroyed during the Al-Nakba (Catastrophe). Names are changed and events dramatized, but it remains the same tale this young woman told upon reaching Syria that’s endured for generations. At its start is our introduction to the renamed Farha’s (Karam Taher) headstrong teenage rebellious streak in telling her Quran teacher that women should be worrying less about marriage and more about education. Her cousin / best friend Farida (Tala Gammoh) is lucky enough to live in the city to experience the latter while life in the village leaves Farha with many fewer options. Her father (Ashraf Barhom’s Abu Farha) is their mayor, however, and thus has means to send her too.

They’re living in tumultuous times, though. The British are leaving and the Arab villages have no means of defending themselves from the progressing Israeli forces coming to fill that void. On one hand Abu Farha wants his daughter to remain close as they await the Arab League’s promised assistance. On the other, he knows her potential and desire to learn could ultimately help them all in the long run. There just isn’t enough time to get affairs in order before the explosions start. Suddenly Farha is left with a choice of her own: flee with Farida’s family north or stay by her father’s side. Why she picks the latter comes with additional motivation, but it hardly matters once desperation leads her to being locked inside the pantry.

This is how we experience the horrors of what went on: through the cracks of a wooden door and gaps between stones. Abu Farha says he’ll return for her, but that’s hardly a guarantee. And while hiding in this room will keep her safe (and fed), the prospect of what she might have to face with only a dagger left behind for protection remains unknown. Sallam’s film turns from the hopeful sun-drenched days of a hillside community thinking towards the future to a claustrophobic thriller forcing Farha (and us) to helplessly watch the present depravity of war. Whether smoke from fires set to burn the village down or Israeli soldiers cornering fleeing Arabs with unprovoked malice, what she witnesses will invariably alter her entire outlook on humanity.

Sallam pulls no punches in her depictions of the callous nature of this endless battle in the Middle East. It’s no coincidence that she shows young boys chasing after the British with toy gun slingshots, propelling tiny stones at the soldiers before cutting to a scene between Abu Farha and his brother-in-law (Ali Suliman’s Abu Walid) where they discuss the audacity of those pretending like they possess an armed militia. It’s no different from today with Israelis firing into crowds of unarmed civilians because someone threw a can. Oppressors will utilize whatever excuses are at their disposal to continue their oppression; their zealots will believe the flimsiest of them if doing so serves their needs. Everything is a weapon for those itching to respond with deadly force.

I doubt the obvious allusions to Holocaust films (sans concentration camps) are unintentional, either. We’ve seen countless depictions of Jewish Europeans hiding from Nazis as the Third Reich stormed into homes with impunity to line people up against the wall and organize a firing squad. Farha becomes that innocent made to watch as people who look and talk like her are butchered feet away. That one would happen so soon after the other is therefore something to contemplate and discuss; one people’s suffering should never validate the conscious acts of causing another people to suffer in similar ways. As the broken Arabic of loudspeakers states that all Arabs must vacate or be killed in their homes, however, nothing about this diaspora’s commencement was ever voluntary.

Farha‘s success is thus predicated on our ability to watch what unfolds and believe its veracity. That will probably be a tall ask for those who deny Palestinians their right to be angry about what was done to them. Hopefully seeing it through the eyes of a child will help sway hearts and minds to reality, though. First-time actor Taher is fantastic in the eponymous role, struggling with allegiance to her village and dreams of enjoying the city. Just because one wishes to escape their simple life doesn’t mean they aren’t intrinsically bonded to it. We leave for our educations in the knowledge that home will remain, either as a time capsule or a siren calling us back. For too many Palestinians today, returning to theirs became impossible.

Farha premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Jared Mobarak is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic for The Film Stage, Art Director for the Buffalo, NY film series Cultivate Cinema Circle, and member of OFCS and GWNYFCA. You can follow his cinematic viewing habits at Letterboxd.

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Farha ‘Smear Campaign’ Targets Netflix Film Depicting Nakba

Activists say hundreds of spam accounts are giving low ratings and bad reviews for the film on rating platforms


Many of the accounts giving Farha low ratings on IMDb were newly created (TaleBox)

Nadda Osman, Middle East Eye, 2 December 2022

Hundreds of spam accounts have left negative reviews of the film Farha on the movie rating site IMDb, in what appears to be an organised campaign.

Streaming on Netflix and set during the Nakba of 1948, the film revolves around a teenage girl who watches Zionist militias kill her entire family, including a baby.

Jordanian director Darin Sallam says her debut feature is based on actual events, which she first heard about from her Palestinian father.

The film has been slammed by Israeli officials but Palestinians reject such criticisms, arguing that abuses like those depicted in the movie are documented to have happened.

Following the Israeli censure, the film’s ratings have dropped dramatically on IMDb, one of the internet’s most popular film review sites.

On 1 December, the film’s ratings went from 7.2 to 5.8 in a matter of hours, in what many activists and campaigners have called a targeted campaign. 

According to activists, many of the negative reviews appeared to have come from the same source, containing similar comments, such as calling the film “one-sided” or a “big lie”.


    Netflix’s Farha: Palestinians bemused by Israeli anger over Nakba film
    Read More »

One review, titled “propaganda and fantasy”, awarded the film one star and called it an “over emotional drama”.

Former Al Jazeera journalist and influencer Ahmed Shihab-Eldin says the negative reviews were part of an orchestrated effort to discredit the film and stop people from seeing it. 

“The pacing of the posts reveals it was co-ordinated,” he told Middle East Eye.

“With each passing hour, dozens and dozens of vapid and vile reviews would appear, making wild accusations trashing the film. It was clear people had not seen the film, and only wanted to damage its reputation,” he added. 

According to Shihab-Eldin, many of the accounts posting negative reviews of the film were newly created.

He says that around 1,000 negative reviews suddenly appeared on the website during a 24-hour period, which contained “inflammatory and hateful language”.

At the time of publication, the average review rating of Farha on the IMDb page sat at 8.1, suggesting the website had removed inauthentic ratings.

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Light in Gaza Speaking Tour in Milwaukee


Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire book cover. (Photo: AFSC)

American Friends Service Committee, Sep 27, 2022

    11/17/22 update: WORT’s Gil Halsted talks with Yousef Aljamal and Asmaa Abu Mezeid, two of the Light in Gaza authors now on tour in the U.S.

Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire brings together sixteen essays and poems by twelve Palestinian writers. The book includes political essays, personal narratives, economic analysis, and poetry. The book is edited by American Friends Service Committee staff Jehad Abusalim, Jennifer Bing, and Mike Merryman-Lotze and published by Haymarket Books. Read the full press release here.

AFSC is excited to host a speaking tour featuring Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal, contributors to the Light in Gaza anthology.

Join us for a discussion of this new literary anthology featuring two of the book’s co-authors: Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal.

This book imagines what the future of Gaza could be, while reaffirming the critical role of Gaza in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

“This is a different view than most Americans see in the news.  Usually we see people in Gaza being killed or living without electricity. So they are either victims or superhumans. You miss the everyday family gatherings, the importance of nature. We hope this book inspires people to want to learn more,” said Jennifer Bing, director of the AFSC Palestine Activism Program in Chicago and editor for the Light in Gaza book project.

We will talk with the authors about their contributions to the book, and discuss the current conditions in Gaza. We will also be discussing the role that we here in Turtle Island can play in support the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

This event is co-sponsored by: Milwaukee 4 Palestine (milwaukee4palestine@gmail.com); Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation (Milwaukee), Jewish Voice for Peace (Milwaukee), Students for Justice in Palestine (UWM), Students for Justice in Palestine (Marquette University).

About the speakers:

Asmaa Abu Mezied is economic development and gender expert working to address issues of gender, development, and climate change.  Her main area of focus is women’s economic justice through gendered economic policies, women’s rights in economic sectors, unpaid care and domestic work campaigning, inclusive markets, and feminist economics in fragile and conflict areas. Asmaa is a beginner gardener in the Gaza Strip and is interested in the intersection of Palestinian political, agricultural, and environmental identities. Asmaa is a policy member and a current fellow at Al Shabaka, a Palestinian think tank.  She was an Atlas Corps Fellow with U.S. President Obama’s Emerging Global Leaders, a Gaza Hub-Global Shaper Alumna in the initiative of the World Economic Forum, and a 2021 Mozilla Foundation Wrangler at “Tech for Social Activism” space. 

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee from Al-Nusierat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He has obtained an MA degree from the Department of International and Strategic Studies Department at the University of Malaya. He is now a PhD Candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey. Aljamal, besides his research interests in diaspora, security, and indigenous studies, has contributed to a number of books which highlight the Palestinian narrative. He translated two books on Palestinian prisoners entitled The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag (2013) and Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak (2016). He also co-edited the book A Shared Struggle Stories of Palestinian and Irish Hunger Strikers (2021). Aljamal has published a number of journal articles on topics that include Palestinians in the diaspora, travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, and struggles for liberation. Over the years, he has spoken at various forums and platforms to highlight the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.

FBI investigation is proof that continuous pressure works

Americans for Justice in Palestine (AJP Action) welcomes the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement that the FBI will be conducting an independent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military.

AJP Action, along with our partners and supporters, has spent considerable energy in recent months lobbying Congress and the State Department, as well as petitioning the White House, to launch this investigation instead of taking Israel’s self-exoneration at face value, and we are glad that the Biden administration has finally come around to doing the right thing.

    “While we applaud this critical step to investigate Shireen’s killing, justice will not be served until her killers are held accountable and face the consequences of their murderous actions,” said AJP Action Executive Director Osama Abuirshaid.

    “We hope that the Biden administration is committed to seeing this process all the way through. This is critical for Shireen’s family, but also for the sake of all journalists who are targeted by oppressive governments to know they won’t be allowed to get away with it.”

Shortly after the FBI investigation was announced, the Israeli government indicated that it will not cooperate with this investigation. Israel has a lengthy history of refusing cooperation in investigations of its crimes by independent actors–a practice aimed at covering up the atrocities that have become routine against Palestinians.

    “It is simply unacceptable that Israel gets billions of our tax dollars every year and then refuses to cooperate with U.S. investigations into the killing of American citizens,” said AJP Action Advocacy Director Ayah Ziyadeh, adding: “It is time to end U.S. funding for the Israeli military until Israel complies with U.S. and international law and respects the basic human rights of Palestinians.” 

The announcement of an FBI-led investigation is a step in the right direction, however, our work doesn’t end here. We are deeply committed to continuing to pressure our government until Israel is held responsible for its crime and justice is served.

Sincerely,
Americans for Justice in Palestine Action

AJP Action, an affiliate of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization lobbying for legislation that supports the human rights of the Palestinian people.

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FBI opens investigation into killing of Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the FBI decision “a grave mistake” and said Israel will refuse to cooperate.

“The IDF conducted an independent and professional investigation. I have made it clear to the U.S. government that we won’t cooperate with any external investigation and won’t allow any interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” he added.


A Palestinian student from An-Najah University holds a picture of Shireen Abu Akleh during a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Nov. 6. Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Barak Ravid, Axios, 14 Nov 2022

The U.S. Justice Department recently informed the Israeli Justice Ministry that the FBI has opened an investigation into the death of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli officials said Monday.

Why it matters: Such an investigation is highly unusual. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the FBI decision “a grave mistake” and said Israel will refuse to cooperate.

  • The investigation could lead to a U.S. request to investigate the soldiers who were involved in the operation — a request Israel would almost certainly reject.
  • The investigation could also lead to tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli government.

Driving the news: The FBI decision to open an investigation into the case was first reported on Israel’s Channel 14 on Monday.

  • Five sources briefed on the issue, including four Israeli officials, confirmed to Axios that DOJ notified the Israeli Justice Ministry about the decision. The sources requested anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly speak on the issue.

What they’re saying: Gantz said later Monday that “the U.S. Justice Department decision to investigate the tragic death of Shireen Abu Akleh is a grave mistake.”

  • “The IDF conducted an independent and professional investigation. I have made it clear to the U.S. government that we won’t cooperate with any external investigation and won’t allow any interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” he added.

White House National Security Council spokesperson referred Axios to the DOJ.

  • “Our thoughts remain with the Abu Akleh family as they grieve this tremendous loss. Not only was Shireen an American citizen, she was a fearless reporter whose journalism and pursuit of truth earned her the respect of audiences around the world,” the NSC spokesperson added.
  • The DOJ did not reply to a request for comment.

Between the lines: The administration has faced pressure by dozens of congressional Democrats and Abu Akleh’s family to do more to ensure accountability. More than 20 Democratic senators signed a letter calling for an independent FBI investigation.

  • U.S. Sen Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a statement that “this is an overdue but necessary and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the shooting death of American citizen and journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh.”

Flashback: Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera correspondent, was wearing a bulletproof vest marked “press” when she was killed.

  • The Palestinian Authority and her family accused the Israeli military of intentionally targeting her.

The IDF concluded in September she was most likely killed in “unintentional fire” from an Israeli soldier who did not realize she was a journalist. The findings were a shift from the IDF’s initial position that it was not possible to know who shot Abu Akleh. Continue reading

Amnesty Says ICC Israel Probe Should Include ‘Crime Against Humanity of Apartheid’

“Israel’s apartheid remains the root cause of Palestinians’ suffering,” said the group.


Palestinians inspect the ruins of a collapsed building destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on August 6, 2022. (Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

JULIA CONLEY, Common Dreams, October 25, 2022

Calling for the International Criminal Court to open a new investigation into possible war crimes by Israeli military forces in Gaza in August, Amnesty International on Tuesday said the court must also include Israel’s illegal apartheid policies against the Occupied Palestinian Territories in its probe.

“As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The organization’s call centered on the three-day offensive launched by Israel between August 5-8 in the Gaza Strip, with advocates saying its research suggests three specific attacks could amount to war crimes.

Seventeen civilians were among the 49 Palestinian people who were killed by Israeli forces during the offensive, while seven were determined to have been killed by Palestinian rockets that were likely misfired. The group could not determine which side was responsible for the deaths of seven other civilians.

Amnesty noted that Israel, which claimed the attacks were “preemptive” and targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, has set the stage for such deadly assaults on civilians for years by imposing a blockade and other apartheid policies on Gaza.

“These violations were perpetrated in the context of Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade on Gaza, which is a key tool of its apartheid regime,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, in a statement. “Palestinians in Gaza are dominated, oppressed, and segregated, trapped in a 15-year nightmare where recurrent unlawful attacks punctuate a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

“As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Callamard added.

The group said Israel’s policies—including military control of Palestine, restrictions on the movement of millions of people in the West Bank, and denial of essential services—are the “root cause of Palestinians’ suffering.”

The call comes eight months after Amnesty outlined Israel’s apartheid system in a report, saying “the international community and the ICC should all investigate the commission of the crime of apartheid under international law.”

In its report released Tuesday regarding the three-day offensive that took place in August, the group said it had interviewed 42 people including attack survivors, family members of those killed, eyewitnesses, and medical professionals. A fieldworker, the organization’s evidence lab, and a weapons expert determined that at least three of the 17 attacks Amnesty documented should be investigated by the ICC as possible war crimes.

An Israeli tank fired a projectile on August 5, hitting the home of 22-year-old art student Duniana al-Amour and her family in the southern Gaza Strip. Al-Amour was killed and her mother was wounded. Amnesty concluded in its analysis that the family’s home had been “deliberately targeted,” even though there is “no evidence that any members of the al-Amour family could reasonably be believed to be involved in armed combat.”

Five children were killed on August 7 when a missile struck Al-Falluja cemetery, near the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. The children ranged in age from four to 16.

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Online Film and Discussion: The Settlers

    November 13
    2 pm Central
    Zoom Registration

    After registration you will receive a link to watch the film prior to the discussion.

Combining history and headlines, THE SETTLERS is the first comprehensive look at the sensitive issue of Israel’s continued construction of settlements in the West Bank, which is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Radicals, idealists, messianic fanatics, true believers and political opportunists, living on the fault lines of an age-old conflict, come face to face with history itself. Today, the settlers threaten to destroy what little peace remains in the Middle East.

Register now and join us for a discussion of the film with:

  • Shimon Dotan – Filmmaker, university instructor on Political Cinema and Film Directing
  • Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro – Scholar, author, and Board Director at International Council for Middle East Studies
  • Moderator Lara Freidman – President, Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Presented by Voices from the Holy Land Film Series.