Gan Dafna

Zach Pekarsky

Ari Ofengenden
Representations of the Arab Israeli Conflict
September 28, 2010
Otto Preminger’s Exodus featuring Paul Newman—one of the most famous films regarding Israeli history—has educated thousands of Americans regarding the formation of the State of Israel and the different forces involved, both diplomatically and militarily, such as the Etzel (a Revisionist Zionist military force), the Haganah (a left-wing military force affiliated with the kibbutzim), the British Empire, the UN, the Arab population, and the kibbutzim. Analysis of the communities depicted by Preminger in the Jezreel Valley, Abu Yesha and Gan Dafna, and the relationship between them enable the audience to better understand the film and its portrayals.
Firstly, let’s examine the community less central to the plot, Abu Yesha, the Arab town outside Gan Dafna and Exodus’ representation of the Arab population within Palestine.   Barak Ben-Canaan, founder of Gan Dafna, claims to have received the land as a donation for the youth village from the Mukhtar of Abu Yesha. Thus, the Mukhtar demonstrates a gracious acceptance of the Jewish pioneers from Europe, welcoming them into the valley as peaceful partners coming to live as neighbors in harmony. Although some Arab populations may have perceived the Jews in this manner, it is disingenuous to show this behavior as representative of the whole Arab population, most of whom viewed the Eastern-European Jewish immigrants with almost the exact opposite perspective (Ofengenden).
The vast majority of the Arab population understood to the Jewish pioneers in the context of the Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent influence of colonial powers, particularly the United Kingdom and France (Ofengenden). To them, the Jewish waves of immigration only furthered the region’s colonization at the hands of Europe (Ofengenden). Already pressured to conform to Western norms regarding culture, technology, and societal organization, the Arab population...