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For centuries Jews and Arabs lived side by side in Hebron. By the late 1920s, 800 Jews were settled peaceably with tens of thousands of Arab neighbors. This equilibrium was shattered with three days of violence in August 1929 which left 67 Jews dead. Directors Dan and Noit Geva’s gripping documentary locates 13 people who survived the massacre, including Noit’s grandmother, 16-years-old at the time of the massacre.

Noit's grandmother, Zemira Mani, the granddaughter of Hebron's Sephardic chief rabbi, Eliyahu Mani, survived the massacre because an Arab neighbor saved her. Noit was 33 years old before she learned the details of the enormous trauma that had darkened her grandmother's life.

“Only after my eldest daughter was born did my father decide to let me read what grandmother had written,” explains director Noit Geva, “Once I started, I was unable to stop reading…Since I read my Grandmother Zmira’s testimony, I discovered, to my disbelief, that this story had never been told. I located another 12 survivors who present their testimony here for the first and perhaps the last time. Today, some of them forgive, others don’t, but all of them want to believe that… we might see better days, like ones they remember 70 years ago, when Jews and Arabs lived together.”

Today, some of the survivors forgive, others do not. But all of them want to believe that we might see better days like ones they remember more than 70 years ago, when Jews and Arabs lived together.


Dan Geva graduated The Jerusalem Film and Television School 1994. His wife and film-partner, Noit Geva received her Master degree in Communications at the Hebrew University Jerusalem in 1989. They both teach documentary film theory and practice at Haifa University, The Open University Tel-Aviv, and Beit-Berl Art College. They worked together on several awarded documentaries: Jerusalem, Rhythms of A Distant City, Alaska The 7th Year, My Mother’s 1st Olympics, Take Now Your Son, Routine and What I Saw in Hebron.


What I Saw in Hebron uses eyewitness accounts, including the diary of filmmaker Noit Geva's grandmother, to trace the traumatic events that occurred in Hebron in 1929, when in the space of two days, rioting Arab mobs murdered 84 Jews, neighbors with whom they had previously lived in harmony. Those Arab families who protected their Jewish friends had been largely forgotten by 1994, when another massacre stained this embattled West Bank city—settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in a mosque and killed 29 Muslims. This intensely personal and moving documentary examines the cycles of violence and oblivion that tear apart the fragile tissue of trust between communities.”
-Leslie Camhi, Village Voice (Feb 23-29, 2000)

“The 1929 massacre of Sepharadic Jews by their Arab neighbors is remembered in What I Saw in Hebron from Israeli husband-and-wife team Dan and Noit Geva….After the birth of her first child, Noit Geva's father gave her a distinctive gift: Her late grandmother's eyewitness account of the massacre of Jewish villagers in 1929 Hebron, written the day afterward by the then 16-year-old Zemira. In pic's powerful first half, that testimony, read in voiceover, is abetted by those of surviving peers, contemporary footage of the pogrom's grisly aftermath and creepy latterday prowls through the disaster's little-changed sites.

“For decades, even centuries, Jews and Arabs had co-existed peaceably in the region. But the arrival of Zionist immigrants stoked paranoia, which was then set aflame by planted rumors of anti-Muslim violence in Jerusalem. Women, infants, clergy, friends and neighbors weren't spared in a two-hour melee that left 67 dead, many more raped or wounded. Several level-headed Arabs did help hide or protect Jews (including the grandmother herself). But others gave themselves over to a collective, feverish brutality --- far from cold-blooded executions, the attacks were often grotesquely sadistic, their memory all the more disturbing for being witnessed and recalled by (now-elderly) children…”
-Dennis Harvey, Variety (Aug 14-20, 2000)

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What I Saw in Hebron
Ma Sheraiti B'Hebron

Israel, 1999, 73 min, color
Hebrew & Arabic w/ English subtitles
Directed by Noit Geva & Dan Geva

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Public Exhibition Formats: Beta, DVD





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