Families of Israeli pre-state fighters slam TV series claiming to tell ‘true story’

Families of Jewish fighters exiled by the British to Sudan before the establishment of the State of Israel are demanding that the series stop claiming it is “telling a true story.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Families of Jewish fighters against the British in pre-state Israel who were exiled to Africa for their actions have come out against a television series dramatizing their parents’ experiences, Ynet reported Monday.

Dozens of Irgun Etzel) and Stern Group (Lehi) members, who were caught as they battled the British for Israel’s independence even during World War II, were sent to the Carthage internment camp in Sudan, where they endured harsh desert conditions, a lack of water and poor nutrition.

The 10-episode series, called Carthage, is the most expensive ever made in Israel and is co-produced by Channel 11 and international backers.

The families are protesting against the claim appearing before every showing that it is “telling a true story.”

Former Minister of Justice Dan Meridor, son of the late Eliyahu Meridor, one of the Irgun’s leaders and one of the first to be exiled, said that “there is no reason to claim that [the show] is based on a true story,” and that it “misleads the public.”

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The families, who met on Sunday, are demanding that instead, viewers should be informed that the series is an invented drama.

The events are “a figment of the imagination of the writers, and there is no connection between the plot and the characters in it and reality,” Ram Shamgar wrote in protest to the CEO of the Public Broadcasting Corporation, Golann Yochpaz. Shamgar is the son of the late Meir Shamgar, one of the imprisoned Irgun men who later became president of Israel’s Supreme Court.

Three episodes have aired so far, and Shamgar wrote that they “present the underground fighters in a ridiculous light” and t“mock” those who “paid a very heavy price” for their patriotism.

Shlomi Tzipori, whose father was another exile, said that in direct contrast to what is being shown on screen, “there were neither Nazis nor fascists” in the camp, nor any women.

Taking issue with another plot twist, he added, “One of the things my father emphasized is that they did not have whistleblowers.”

In its defense, the broadcasting corporation stated, “The series ‘Carthage’ is a drama series, which was inspired by the events in the concentration camps in Africa. It is not a documentary series and does not claim to be a binding historical document.”

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“The series was accompanied by articles and sketches that presented the historical context of the concentration camps in the history of the Zionist struggle for freedom,” the corporation added. “It is not the intention of the creator, whose father was himself detained in a camp, to mock the detainees. We are proud of the series and the historical and artistic discussion it engenders.”

While praising the quality of the acting, cinematography and sets, a Ynet review of the show called it “confusing” as it “zigzags between a historical series and a series with contemporary motifs, and between comedy-parody and drama with touches of violence.”

The reviewer added that it was “difficult to understand what the central axis of the series actually is,” although she was enjoying it overall and ultimately gave it a thumbs up.