OPINIONS

Wed 14 Jun 2023 11:25 am - Jerusalem Time

On International Archives Day: Palestine was subjected to the largest crime of cultural theft in history

The world celebrates on the ninth of June of each year the International Archives Day, which was approved by the International Council on Archives (ICA) and UNESCO in 2007, to enhance public awareness about the importance of archives, documents and archives, and to activate initiatives to preserve them as they represent treasures of human activity, and a reliable witness in the narration of events The past and the promotion of the identity of peoples, and this day also witnesses national demonstrations with many activities and initiatives from the institutions of information and documentation centers to make archives available to the public out of their belief in the necessity of making information available in line with the principle of freedom of access to information and human rights in accordance with the laws in force in this field.


The scene here in Palestine is completely different, and contradicts all the values, morals and freedoms that the world espouses. The moral, human and religious duty that falls on the world is still standing and barricaded behind the policies of the spectator, and using different and contradictory standards with everything that is said, written and published. He is the same who enabled the invaders with all their might. The means are from the theft of Palestine, and it is in line with the efforts made by the Western orientalists who roamed the Arab East to search for the cultural and civilizational heritage to serve colonialism and dispel the Arab right and erase it from geography and history.


On International Archives Day, we write to ourselves and the world to narrate what our cultural heritage has been subjected to, and still is, to the most heinous crimes against humanity, what was documented from oral testimonies of eyewitnesses, what was written and documented by writers and historians who survived the crime, and documented testimonies of those who participated in it, in addition to what was written and documented by many From the Israeli historians, in the section “And a witness from his family testified”, “And from your mouth I condemn you”, all of this is considered an irrefutable document for the Palestinian right.


The chapters of the Nakba of the Palestinian people in 1948 were not limited to massacres, displacement, displacement and extermination, and the destruction and burning of cities and villages by Zionist gangs. Another people is in its place and is delusional that it can build another historical narrative. All of this was not random, but was carried out with deliberate plans to steal the Palestinian identity, starting with targeting the place, geography and history in all its details, to looting the cultural heritage, and the knowledge and heritage treasures it contains rooted in the depth of history thousands of years ago.


So he continued to attribute everything Palestinian, including food, fashion, and antiquities to him, thinking that he could falsify and Judaize a looted and stolen history and culture in order to build a new Israeli narrative that he would market to the world, betting on changing the historical, geographical and cultural consciousness of future generations, “the old are dying and the young are forgotten.”


One of the most dangerous things that the occupation faced within its plans, which still haunts it until now, is the treasure of the historical and documentary heritage and the intellectual production of the Palestinians. The Israeli tanks were accompanied by employees specialized in history and archives to carry out the crime of looting and robbery. They collected thousands of books from public and private libraries, libraries of educational institutions, schools, mosques, churches, museums, printing presses and cinemas. Music and theaters, and they looted precious antiques, statues, precious stones, jewelry, diamonds, gold, bank accounts, and everything that one could reach, as pointed out by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. He says: “Between 70%-75% of the Palestinian population before the Nakba were rich in the material sense, and there was nothing left for them part of their movable and immovable property.


What we would like to point out here, in particular, is the scale of the crime committed and the methods of concealing it against the Palestinian archives, historical documents, manuscripts, and intellectual and knowledge production, which is estimated at millions of documents and thousands of books dating back to the Ottoman era and before and extending before 1815-1917, including government documents and public institutions. It also extends from the days of the military rule of the British Mandate over Palestine (1917-1948), in addition to the archives of Sharia courts, civil courts, municipalities, private papers of Palestinian families, leaders, and intellectuals, documents of the Supreme Islamic Council, Ottoman and British documents, population records, and archives of German, Austrian, British, and Arab consulates that worked in Jerusalem, such as the Saudi, Iraqi, Egyptian, and other consulates, the archives of the Arab Higher Committee, and the archives of clubs and chambers of commerce.


This heritage, in its size and important content, was not burned and destroyed, and the largest volume is left and preserved in the Israeli National Library, the Hebrew University Library, and the military archives. It is not available to the public and is under strict supervision. And the Israeli historian Adam Raz points out in his book (The Looting of Arab Property in the 1948 War) that he says: "There are many documents that prove looting and looting, but they are subject to censorship." The Sacred Scene), Chech Amit in his book (Royalty Card), Ronh Sela in her book (for audience viewing), Uri Avnery in his book (The Other Side of the Coin), Benny Bruner in his documentary (The Great Theft), Tom Segev, Benny Morse and others.

Regarding the contradiction between professionalism, democracy and the availability of archival information, the director of the archives of the occupying state presented a report in 2018 that sparked widespread controversy in the governmental, political and security milieu, where he said: "There are many obstacles that affect the proper functioning of the archive and are linked to the method of revealing and making archival materials available to The public, the vast majority of archival materials are closed forever, and this is not appropriate, as one would expect from a democratic country.” The officials responded to his report with the following pretexts:
1. Exposing the facts may constitute a means in the hands of our enemies and opponents and lead to weakening the resolve of our friends.
2. The process of exposing the banned archives leads to inflaming the feelings of the Arab population in the country and the Palestinian territories.
3. Weakening the arguments of the state in the courts of the country or the courts in the world.
4. The process of opening the archives leads to the disclosure of information that may be interpreted as Israeli war crimes.

The occupation continued without stopping to carry out its crime of looting and theft of the historical and cultural heritage from the Nakba to the Naksa to the present day, and for seventy-five years, the Israeli occupation continued to pursue the cultural and historical heritage of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and the institutions of the National Authority and civil institutions with the same plans and methodology because it He knows with certainty that this legacy is the one that decides the battle and controversy of the novel, so he has always set up his hostility to fight this legacy with looting, theft and forgery. Also, the Palestinian realized from the beginning of the conflict its nature and its goals, so he always worked to collect, preserve and protect his heritage in its various forms.


Regarding the questions that always revolve in the mind, regarding the Palestinian effort regarding the recovery and collection of the looted heritage from the Israeli occupation and British colonialism and the transmitted and transferred heritage of the Ottoman period and the Jordanian and Egyptian eras, the effort has been continuous for years in research, collecting statistics, preparing lists and bibliographies, and the Palestinian National Library has a huge and enhanced file. With the supporting documents, and work is underway on it now with the Arab regional branch of the International Council on Archives and the Arab Executive Committee of the League of Arab States to restore the looted and looted archives from the occupying and colonial countries, UNESCO and the International Council on Archives.


And our message on this occasion to the international community and international professional and legal institutions is that the occupation committed its crimes in implementation of the ominous Balfour Declaration, and committed all its crimes in violation of all international covenants and agreements, international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which included the protection of cultural property and the need to preserve it during the war. It is time for the global conscience to act. To address the effects of the crime, restore the rights of its owners, and stop the policies of double standards, and we also affirm that the flame of Palestinian hope has not and will not be extinguished, and hope is renewed and adherence to its inalienable right increases, and that the awareness is firm that the Nakba and the setback and its consequences do not disappear except with the end of the occupation, and the certainty that the Zionist plans will not be achieved Its objectives, and the memory of the Palestinian is inherited and will continue to burn from the ashes of injustice and crimes until the dream of restoring rights is fulfilled.

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On International Archives Day: Palestine was subjected to the largest crime of cultural theft in history

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