In 2000, a group of veterans sued an Israeli graduate student who had written a thesis, citing dozens of Arab and Israel witnesses, in which he said that Israeli soldiers killed scores of captured Tantura villagers before expelling others.

The student, Teddy Katz, briefly recanted his claim under social pressure, ending the case. And although Mr. Katz quickly retracted his retraction, his university later downgraded the status of his degree, citing irregularities.

But a new documentary from an Israeli filmmaker, titled ''Tantura,'' has reignited the furore, setting off new debate in the Israeli media, at the University of Haifa, where Mr. Katz studied, and among Arab lawmakers.

Dor Beach, Israel : A new documentary reopens old wounds. Israel has long denied accusations that soldiers massacred Palestinians.

For many Jewish Israeli visitors to Dor, a mediterranean beach, its unremarkable parking lot is where they leave their cars on the way to the sea.

For many Palestinian citizens of Israel who live nearby, the parking lot is on the site where they say dozens of their relatives were buried in a mass grave after a massacre in 1948, during the war that cemented the nascent state of Israel.

''When I am here, I think of them,'' said Kamal Masri, 57, an Arab steel worker who was visiting the beach. Mr. Masri's relatives lived in Tantura, a Palestinian village on this site that was captured by Israeli soldiers in May 1948 and was later razed and replaced by two Israeli resorts, Dor and Nahsholim.

'' I feel,'' he added, ''like I can see them.''

But to local Israeli leaders, it feels implausible, if not impossible, that Palestinians were either massacred or burried en masse there, just a few years after the Holocaust. 

''It's hard to imagine a thing like that,'' said Yael Manor, the chairwoman of the Nahsholim administrative committee. ''It wasn't in keeping with the times that they would execute innocent people.''

The legacy of the Arab-Jewish war from 1947-49, during which the state of Israel was founded, has long been shaped by versions of these two duelling narratives. The tension between the two continues to influence the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To Palestinians, the war is remembered as the Nakba, or ''catastrophe,'' in which 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled. Millions of their descendants still live as refugees. There have been allegations of other massacres.

To many Israelis, the conflict was a war of independence and survival against invading Arab armies and hostile local militias who rejected a United Nations plan to divide the land between Jews and Arabs, and who also committed atrocities.

According to this narrative, the Palestinian exodus was largely voluntary and encouraged by Arab leaders, and was accompanied by the simultaneous persecution and expulsion of Jews from their homes in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The parking lot at Dor Beach is the latest arena for this battle over Israel's founding story.  It is also the latest instance of Israeli engagement, if halting, with the parts of the Palestinian narrative.

Israeli veterans had often dismissed longstanding Palestinian claims that the Israeli army conducted a massacre in Tantura in the hours after they took control of the town in May 1948, days after the establishment of the Israeli state.

''Tantura'' features interviews with Israeli participants in the operation, as well as old recordings of conversations between Mr. Katz and Israeli witnesses.

Some veterans continued to deny wrongdoing, but others told the film crew that soldiers did kill Palestinian prisoners after Tantura was captured and there was a cover-up.

''They went wild in Tantura,'' said one interviewee, Yosef Diamant, an Israeli veteran who fought in Tantura, and witnessed the aftermath. ''It was silenced,'' he added.

The sadness of this publishing lingers. The World Students Society thanks author Patrick Kingsley.


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