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The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law is affiliated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Credit: Zihan Chen

The Penn Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law hosted a screening of "Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre" — a documentary about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel — on Feb. 22.

"Supernova" is a one hour film that uses video footage and eyewitness accounts from survivors and first responders to recount the attack on Oct. 7 by Hamas militants at the Nova Music Festival in Re’im, Israel. The screening took place at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and was co-sponsored by the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Penn Hillel, and the Penn Cinema & Media Studies Department. 

The event also included a panel discussion with documentary co-directors Duki Dror and Yossi Bloch, Cinema & Media Studies professor Peter Decherney, and Millet Ben Haim -- a survivor of the Nova Hamas attack. Claire Finkelstein, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, moderated the panel. 

Finkelstein pointed to watching the film as an “important part of an education in current events,” adding that “even someone who sharply condemns Israel’s response to these attacks should be able to condemn the attacks in Israel on 10/7.”

She also noted that the screening of the film was related to CERL’s focus on “the law of war, national security and the rule of law.” Since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, CERL has hosted online briefings “that have garnered a great deal of attention,” according to Finkelstein.

Decherney wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian that “it is imperative that we collect, confront, and continue to revisit the images, testimony, and stories of Oct 7th to protect against antisemitic denialism.”

Decherney added that he felt “moved” by Ben Haim’s story, "especially her drive to share the horrifying details of crimes against women on Oct. 7 and the continued plight of the hostages.”

Finkelstein, who first watched the film by herself in preparation for the event, said that watching the film alongside an audience from Penn was “striking,” writing to the DP that it was clear people were impacted by the film.

“Some people wept; many people gasped at various points during the film; all were extremely moved and the atmosphere in the room was somber,” Finkelstein wrote.

Steven Weitzman, the director of the Katz Center, wrote to the DP that while the idea for the screening came from others — including faculty from the Perelman School of Medicine — it remains "important to support their effort to convey the events of Oct. 7 as [something] terrible that happened to real people.” 

Weitzman added that understanding the “pain and trauma” caused by the Oct. 7 attack present in the film is important to comprehend the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. 

“We need more learning, deeper understanding, and more constructive conversation across all the outrage and animosity,” Weitzman said. “Conversation that involves listening, empathy, and trying to move together toward a better place.”

While at Penn, Ben Haim also spoke at an event at Penn Chabad House on Feb. 21. At the event, Ben Haim shared her experience fleeing the music festival and hopes that by sharing her story, she can honor the legacy of those killed. 

“It’s very important for me to share their stories and honor their memories. I know we witnessed great darkness that day and ever since, but we also have witnessed a lot of light and a lot of love,” she said at Chabad. “I want to encourage us to keep spreading the truth and keep sticking to the belief that love will always win.”