The Great Book Robbery

[tweetmeme] Hat Tip goes to Adam Horowitz over at Mondoweiss for this one.  The Great Book Robbery Project is an attempt to document the systematic theft of Palestinian books during the Nakba of 1948.  During the war, Israeli forces, in collaboration with the librarians of Israel’s National Library, looted Palestinian libraries and stole 60,000 books – of which nearly 6,000 can be found at the Israeli National Library under the label ‘AP,’ for Abandoned Property.  Kind of sickening.  From the Project’s website:

This entirely unknown historical event came into light by chance: While researching in various state archives, Israeli PhD student Gish Amit stumbled upon documents that mentioned “books” and the need to “collect” them.

The plunder affair is a remarkable illustration of how one culture emerges from the dust of another after it has laid it to waste: The moment Palestinian culture is destroyed is also the moment a new Israeli consciousness is born; based not only on the erasure of the Arabs’ presence in Palestine but also on the destruction of their culture.

Dramatic new light illuminates the disaster that wreaked not only the Palestinian people in 1948 but also their culture. A particularly chilling document, from March 1948, lists tens of Jerusalemites whose libraries were looted – it reads like a Who’s Who of the Palestinian cultural elite of the time.

For decades Zionist and Israeli propaganda described the Palestinians as “people without culture.” Thus, the victorious Israeli state took upon itself to civilise the Palestinians who remained within its borders at the end of the 1948 war: They were forbidden to study their own culture or to remember their immediate past; their memory was seen as a dangerous weapon that had to be suppressed and controlled.

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