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  • 1. NakbaThe Untold Story of a Cultural CatastrophePalestine Liberation OrganizationNegotiations Affairs
  • 2. NAKBAThe Untold Story of a Cultural Catastrophe
  • 3. 2 | N A K B A
  • 4. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 3PROLOGUENakba, meaning catastrophe, is commemorated by Palestinians throughout the world on May 15 every year. It marks the loss,dispossession and historic injustice suffered by the Palestinian people, through the forced expulsion from their homeland by Israeliforces and Zionist militia. Nakba commemorates the period when approximately 800,000 Palestinians, at the time 67% of thepopulation, became homeless and/or, stateless refugees. Today, it is estimated that 7 of the 11 million Palestinians around the worldare refugees, still roughly two-thirds of the Palestinian people.The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) maintains that without a just and comprehensive resolution to the plight of Palestinianrefugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194, which includes the recognition of their loss, pain, and suffering, a comprehensiveand viable peace in the region will remain elusive.In addition to the loss of material property, including homes, land, orchards, groves, gold, money and other valuables, Nakbamarks a cultural catastrophe for the Palestinian people, a loss from which they are still struggling to recover.Nakba, for Palestine, is about the loss of potential on a mass scale. It is about reducing a vibrant and highly accomplished cultureinto one filled with bitter-sweet memories consumed by the national cause of return and justice. Entire villages were destroyed,then rebuilt and renamed; books, music collections and works of art were left behind as people ran for their lives, expecting toreturn a few weeks later; sports clubs and social organizations disappeared with the communities of which they were a part. Itwas a systematic campaign of destruction and cultural obliteration, carried out against a nation whose vibrant culture was forciblystunted.This document is a snapshot of Palestine before the Nakba. It is by no means comprehensive. Its aim is to provide a window intothe Palestinian cultural achievements before 1948 and the devastating effects of this cultural Nakba on the Palestinians, a peoplewhose sheer resilience has preserved a threatened heritage and collective memory. With perseverance and creativity, Palestinianshave rebuilt, time and again, their institutions and reconstructed their cultural life, overcoming repeated setbacks and assaults. Inshort, Nakba is an on-going story of survival.
  • 5. 4 | N A K B ASocial Life“The guest- house or coffee house (diwan) was thepopular informal gathering place in the village. It wasthe locus for “the discussion of public events, and forstory-telling . . . playing games, and, especially duringramadan and at other festivals, is often enlivened withmusic. The coffee house is the substitute for the public-house, theatres, concert-halls, and all else” (Goodrich-Freer1924:153). Visitors could stay in the village’s guest-houseand entertain them- selves freely.”1One of the most famous photographers beforeNakba was Khalil Raad – he studied photography inBasel (Switzerland) and opened up his shop nearJerusalem’s Jaffa gate in 1895.2His daughterNajlaa carried on his tradition. She married acameraman, Yohanis Krikorian, and worked withhim in his studio.“The YMCA in those years was a social and cultural center whichoffered the residents of Jerusalem a variety of entertainment of thebest kind. The many sport facilities, the different youth clubs, therich library, the auditorium, the cafeteria, were all of great serviceto the public. Young men from all over Palestine – law students,teachers, Government officials – who had to live away from theirfamilies and homes, occupied rooms in the YMCA hostel.”4“Our social life wasbusy, and our house was like aliterary school. Writers andjournalists from allover the world visited us, andjust listeningto their dinner conversations was in itselfeducational.” Mary Shehade,journalist andwife of newspaper editor Boulos Shehadeh.5Karima Aboud worked as aprofessional photographerin 1913. She opened herown studio in Bethlehem tophotograph women only.Karima took hundreds ofpictures of Palestinian cities,women, and cultural life inPalestine. Karima passedaway in 1940.3Women dancing in Beit Jala, 1940’s
  • 6. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 5“Children in their light colorful summerclothes would be running around amongthe fruit trees, the waiters would berushing from one table to another, thenmen would be smoking their narghilehs orplaying the tric-trac, the women wouldbe chatting, laughing or calling out totheir children, and the atmosphere wasalways lively, noisy, and gay”.6EconomyThe economy was among the healthiest in the region. Livingstandards were improving, which was reflected in improvedservices and cultural activities. For example, the tourismsector was growing at a rate of 25% per year before 1947.7In 1944 and 1945, the Arab Bank paid adividend of 24% on its shares.8JournalismIn 1911, Issa Al-Issa published Falastin in Yaffa.Originally a small weekly magazine, thepublication later evolved into a daily newspaper.In 1919, Boulos Shehadeh established theMiraat Al-Sharq (Mirror of the East) newspaper,published in Arabic and English. By 1921, the paperintroduced a column called ‘The Pens of Ladies’ which ran articlesby pioneers in the women’s movement like Asma Toubi and KudsiyyehKhursheed. The paper was shut down by British authorities in 1939 for publishingan ‘inciting poem’.The Palestine Broadcast Service transmitted programs for women and girls,and on Fridays the women’s hour featured prominent women known for theirliterary, political or charitable contributions. By the mid-1940’s, there were 24bookshops in Jerusalem.9“I would not be exaggerating if I said that if a bookwere published in the Eastern or Western world andits reputation spread, you would be able to find it in oneof these [Jerusalem] bookstores” Arif al-‘Arif recallingPalestinian bookstores in Jerusalem in the 1940’s.10AdvertisementforHotelDaroti,JerusalemFalastinNewspaper,1936Advertisement for Arab Insurance Co. Ltd, Jerusalem
  • 7. 6 | N A K B ABetween 1911 and 1948, there were at least161 newspapers, magazines, and other regularpublications covering current news, literarynews, arts, humor, sports, and medicine. Thesepublications included: the Arab PalestinianMedical Magazine (Jerusalem); the quarterlyArab Agriculture Magazine (Jerusalem); theArab Economics Magazine (Jerusalem); theweekly Cinema and Film Magazine (Jerusalem);the weekly Sports Life (Yaffa); the weekly literarymagazine Al-Nahda (Haifa); and the YaffaChamber of Commerce’s quarterly magazine.11Hala Sakakini remembers that her mother subscribed to anEnglish women’s magazine called ‘Wife and Home’. But Halaand her sister Dumiya preferred books. By the time Hala wasseventeen, she had bought Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, andthe Citadel.12Left: [Lamb, CharlesStories from Shakespeare,1930; a translation ofsome of Shakespeare’spopular stories intoArabic. The one depictedhere is “Much Ado aboutNothing”. The lettersSAK in the top rightcorner denote that thebook belonged to KhalilSakakini]Orthodox School, Yaffa 1938
  • 8. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 7EducationIn 1914 there were 379 private Palestinian schools, 95 elementary schoolsand 3 secondary schools in Palestine. Among the prominent private schoolswere: a Christian Orthodox Girls’ School in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem,founded in 1858 by a Russian benefactress; the College des Freres inJerusalem, founded by the Franciscan Order in 1875; and St. George’sBritish Anglican School for boys, founded in Jerusalem in 1899.13There wasalso Al-Dusturiyah School, founded in Jerusalem in 1909 by Khalil Sakakini.It was the first school of its kind in Palestine, employing young teachers andthe latest teaching methods of the time.During the 1919-20 school year, 10,662 Palestinian students were enrolledin public government schools. By the 1922-23 school year, the number ofPalestinian students enrolled in public schools increased by 81% to 19,331.14By 1942, Palestinians had the second highest elementary school enrollmentrate among Arab countries after Lebanon.15In 1947-48, there were 868 Palestinian schools, catering to 146,883Palestinian students and run by 4,600 Arab teachers.16UniversitiesThere were no universities in Palestine before Nakba, except for a LawSchool that opened in Jerusalem in 1921 and a teachers’ training college.But that did not stop Palestinians from furthering their education acrossthe Arab world and beyond. In 1948, there were approximately 3000Palestinian university students in universities worldwide, including 416Palestinian university students studying in Lebanon, and 631 in Egypt, 3in Syria, and 15 in Iraq.17Some accomplished graduates:GEORGE SABA SHIBR graduated with a degree in engineering in1914 from a polytechnic institute in England. He taught at the VictoriaCollege, Alexandria in 1918. In 1923, George was appointed as anengineer in the Islamic Waqf department in Jerusalem. He participatedin the renovation of the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock, Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi in Hebron, and the Nabi Samuel Mosque.18Khalil Al-Budeiri studied Medicine in Germany (1922-23), Egypt(1924-25), and Geneva (1925-29), before specializing in Ophthalmologyin London. He was arrested by the British authorities for his involvement inthe 1936 General Strike and imprisoned for six months. He was appointedto the Palestinian delegation to the UN but the US refused him entry.19Al-DusturiyahSchool
  • 9. 8 | N A K B ABooksIn 1927, there were 23 printing presses working in Palestine.20Between 1919 and 1944, 209 books were published in Palestine, addressing issues of literature, economics, politics, history, the sciences, and other fields.In addition, several other Palestinian works were published in Beirut, Damascus and Cairo, as well as in England, the United States and France.21Palestinianbooks published in the 1930’s include:• It is Null and Void by Wadi Al Bustani (1936) on the Palestine Mandate.• Palestine, Zionism and Colonialism by Ahmad Tarbeen (1939).• Economic Organization of Palestine by Sa’id B. Hamadeh, professor of Applied Economics at the American University of Beirut (1938).• Electric Power in Syria and Palestine by Basim Faris (1936).22There were also dozens of internationally-known Palestinian scholars, such as23:• Yusuf Diya-uddin Pasha Al-Khalidi, a noted scholar in the 19th century who lectured at the University of Vienna. He wrote the first Arabic-Kurdishdictionary.• Khalil Sakakini, a distinguished scholar and essayist who founded the Dusturiyah School in Jerusalem in 1909 and was its headmaster. Among his bookswas Readings in Philology and Literature.• Kuhi Al-Khalidi, a pioneer in modern historiography in the late 19th and early 20th century. He wrote, among other works, The Eastern Question, andA Comparative Study of Arabic and French Literature.• Adil Zu’aiter, a lawyer and translator from French into Arabic. He translated works of Rousseau, Voltaire, Anatole France, Montesquieu and Lamartine.• Ahmad Samih Al-Khalidi, who held a degree in Psychology from the American University of Beirut, was the author of several volumes on pedagogy thatbecame standard textbooks in several Arab countries. He also translated into Arabic works by Maria Montessori and the German psychologist WilhelmStekel.• Khalil Baydas, a Russian scholar and pioneer of the modem Palestinian novel. In 1898, he translated some of the works of Tolstoy and Pushkin intoArabic.• George Antonius, author of The Arab Awakening, a history highly acclaimed in England and the United States. In 1930 he became Middle EasternAssociate at the Institute of World Affairs in New York.• Mrs. Matiel Moghannam, a Palestinian feminist leader who wrote a book published in London in 1937, The Arab Woman and the Palestine Problem.
  • 10. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 9Orthodox School Band, Haifa 1938Muslim Orphanage Band, Jerusalem 1946Advertisementfor Um Kalthoumconcerts inJerusalem, Yaffa adHaifaTicket for UmKalthoum concert
  • 11. 1 0 | N A K B AMusicMusicians and theatre troops from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and other countriesperformed in Palestine. Stars like Um Kulthoum performed in Yaffa, Haifa, and othercities from the 1920’s. People say that in one of Um Kalthoum’s early performancesin Haifa, a woman named her Kawkab Al-Sharq (The East’s Star), the name by whichshe became known after that. Yousef Wihbeh also brought his theatre troupe to Yaffabetween 1920 and 1930.24There were many Palestinian musicians and singers too, like composer Yehya Al-Lababidi, musician Yousef Batroni, and singers Mary Akkawi and Rawhi Khamash toname a few.25Yehya Al-Lababidi composed music for over 150 songs and programsand children’s songs, which were broadcast in the Palestine BroadcastingService, where he was head of the Arab and Oriental music section. He wrotethe lyrics and composed the music of ‘Ya Reitni Teir wa Atir Hawaleik’,26which the famous Arab singer Farid Al-Attrash sang in 1937.27Rawhi Khamash started his music career in 1932 at the age of seven.In 1939, and upon finishing his music studies in Egypt, Khamash wasappointed as head of the music band in the Palestine Broadcasting Service.Music Band of Palestine Broadcasting Service, JerusalemMusic Band ofPalestine BroadcastingService, Jerusalem
  • 12. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 1 1CinemaThe French Lumiere brothers shot the first movie in Palestine as early as 1896.28The movie29was screened in Palestine in Jerusalem’s Europa Hotel in 1900.30Other filmmakers then came to Palestine from across Europe and shot movies.There was Cinema Al-Ahli in Akka, owned by Haj Mohamad Al-Lababidi.31There were also film distributors, like Aflam Al-Nil, owned by Yousef Al-Banna andTalhami32Dr. Ahmad Sidqi Al-Dajani remembers that the first film he ever saw was ‘Al-WardaAl-Baidaa’ (The White Flower), starring Mohamad Abdel Wahab in Al-Hamra cinemain Yaffa.33By 1937, the Arab Cinema Company Ltd. was inviting the public topurchase its shares. The company had a capital of 5,000 shares,valued at one Palestinian guinea a share.34In 1945, Ibrahim Sirhan founded a production studio called Palestinestudio and sought donations through advertisement in the Yaffa press.He was joined by Mohamad Kayali and together, they established theArab Film Company production studio.35Egyptian films were also showing in Palestinian cinemas, oneexample being ‘Ibn Al-Sahra’ (Son of the Desert), starring BadrLama, an artist of Palestinian origin who together with his brotherIbrahim is credited with the founding of Egyptian cinema.36Advertisement for screeing of Um Klthoum movie in Gaza’sSamer Cinema, 1941 - Ghada Rabah’s collectionYaffa’s Al-Hamra Cinema and Theatre
  • 13. 1 2 | N A K B AFilms & Film MakersIbrahim Sirhan produced the first Palestinian film in 1935. Itwas a 20-minute documentary about King of Saud’s visitto Palestine. He then produced ‘AhlamTahaqaqat’ (Dreamsfulfilled) with singer Sayed Haroun and ‘Fi Laylat El-Eid’ (Onthe Night of the Feast) and ‘AssifahFil-Bayt’ (A Storm atHome).37Mohamad Saleh Al-Kayali studied cinema and directing inItaly. He founded a photography studio in Yaffa in 1940. In1946, he produced and directed several documentaries inCairo such as ‘Qa’idat Al-Idwan’ (The Rule of Aggression)38Yaffa’s Al-Hamra Cinema and Theatre
  • 14. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 1 3DramaBetween 1922 and 1948, there were at least 43 groups with drama companies and atleast 70 plays had been performed, not including those performed in schools.39Before1948, there were at least 30 theatre troupes in Jerusalem alone.40There were a number of writers and pioneers in drama, many ofwhom became known as proponents of modern Arabic literature:Jamil Habib’s successful novel The Killer of his Brother(a tragedy in three parts, published in 1919) was performedas a theater play in 1929 in Syria, Palestine, and other Arabcountries.41Jamil Al-Bahri wrote 12 plays before he died in 1930.Nasri al-Jowzi wrote 17 plays and Istfan Salem wrote 8. There wasalso Asma Al-Toubi; she wrote 4 plays.The Palestinian novel emerged in 1920’s. Khalil Baydas wrote ‘Al-Warath’ (The Inheritor) in 1920. In the same year, ‘Hayat Ba’daAL-Maout’ (Life after Death) by Iskandar Al-Beit-Jali was published.In 1946, the modern Arab novel emerged with Jabra Ibrahim Jabra’s‘Surakh fi Layl Tawil’ (A Scream in a Long Night).Literary criticism also thrived in Palestine. In 1904, Rouhi Al-Khalidi published ‘Tareekh‘Ilm Al-Adab ‘Inda Al-Frank wal-‘Arab’ (A History of the Study of Arab and ForeignLiteratures). Later on, Palestinian critics like Ihsan Abbas and Jabra Ibrahim Jabrabacked the modernist poetry movement.42Notable Palestinian poets included Ibrahim Tuqan, Issam Abbasi, Muhammad Adnani,Jalal Zurayq, Kamal Nasir, and Fadwa Tuqan among many others.43
  • 15. 1 4 | N A K B ANAKBA“[My father] remembers his fatherhurrying everyone into the truckthat would take them to Gaza.His mother was trying to fetch hersewing machine from the house.His father said ‘don’t worry we cancollect it in two weeks when wecome back. In Gaza, my father’smother, whenever she would sewor make clothes on her new sewingmachine she would cry and heremembers asking her ‘why are youcrying?’ and she [would say] ‘becauseI miss my sewing machine in BeerSheva.’ ”44Wassim Al-Saraj“We had been in so many different places I could not recognize where the sun rose andI thought it was rising from the west. [People] were running everywhere; they werelike ants. Some people rented fishing boats to carry their things to Gaza. We did nottake anything; I only carried my son on my back.”Um Jabr WishahUNRWA Archive UNRWA Archive
  • 16. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 1 5“My father and his friends studied hard. Fighting was going on across the country. It was going on right there between Jaffaand Tel Aviv…Little imagining how radically their lives soon would be changed, they felt it was critical that they pass the endof year examinations- their future, they thought at the time, depended on it. So when Shafiq, my father’s closest friend, losthis brother, my father insisted that he forgo the funeral procession in order to take his exams. When they showed up to sitfor their exams, they found that the roof had been blown off the school in which the Palestinian matriculation exams werebeing administered. They carried on. By the time they heard the results on the radio several months later, it was the JewishEducation Department that announced them; there was no longer an Arab Department. My father was, by then, a refugee inNablus, a West Bank town… He sent a telegram to Shafiq, now a refugee in Beirut. He remembers the irony: ‘It was such athrill- we passed! But there we were, refugees with no future’.”47L. Abu Lughod“A large wooden cupboard takes centre place in my vision. It is ivory whitewith a mirrored door, and right in front of it is a little girl of about five yearsold – me – squatting and looking into a wide open drawer at its bottom.My hands are buried deep inside the contents, and I remember, I recognize,almost feel the moment of the beginnings of my “silk road” unraveling rightthere from my grandmother’s drawer. This was the place, the Aladdin cave,where she kept all the paraphernalia and knickknacks of sewing: threads, pinsand needles, buttons and hooks, lace and beads, sequins and ribbon, and mostof all swatches, patches, leftover material that remained and was kept aftersewing clothes, lingerie, and household accessories… I lean on the Palestinianembroidered cushions on the sofa where I am sitting. They hold me tenderlyand comfort me in what seems to be an eternal embrace of dazzling colorsand designs. Palestinian embroidery remains ME, my passion, my identity,my ‘silk road’.”45Tania Tamari Nasir“During this time looting of [Palestinian] houses started on a fantasticscale, accompanied by wholesale vindictive destruction of property…. Fromour verandah we saw horse-drawn carts as well as pick-up trucks ladenwith pianos, refrigerators, radios, paintings, ornaments and furniture, somewrapped in valuable Persian carpets… Our friends’ houses were being ransackedand we were powerless to intervene. At night the wind howled and thebanging of windows and doors echoed through the lifeless buildings, a hauntingsound in an already ghostly scene. It was unbearable to pass these houses.”46John RoseUNRWA Archive
  • 17. 1 6 | N A K B ANAKBA FACTS• Israeli militias and forces committed dozens ofmassacres during Nakba in which 15,000 Palestinianswere killed.48• In 1948, Palestine’s population was 1.2 million. DuringNakba, approximately 800,000 Palestinians, around67% of the population, were forcibly expelled from theirhomes, villages, and cities.• During the Nakba, approximately 200,000 Palestinianrefugees flooded into the Gaza Strip, thereby doublingits population almost overnight.• Between 1947 and 1949, the Israeli army and militiasdrove out almost 90, 000 Palestinian Christians, or abouttwo thirds of the Palestinian Christian population of 117,450, from historic Palestine, along with hundreds ofthousands of other Palestinians.49• On 11 December 1948, United Nations GeneralAssembly adopted resolution 194 (III), which resolved“that the refugees wishing to return to their homesand live at peace with their neighbours should bepermitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, andthat compensation should be paid for the property ofthose choosing not to return and for loss of or damageto property which, under principles of international lawor in equity, should be made good by the Governmentsor authorities responsible”. This resolution has sincebecome the cornerstone of Palestinian policy regardingthe plight of refugees. Additionally, in 2002, the ArabLeague adopted the Arab Peace Initiative, which alsocalled for a “just, comprehensive, and agreed-uponsolution to the issue of refugees, based on UN GeneralAssembly resolution 194”.“A cultural landscape that reflected hundreds of years of sequent occupance [sic] was eradicated in some four decades… Places“A cultural landscape that reflected hundreds of years of sequent occupance [sic] was eradicated in some four decades… Placesthat were the loci for Palestinian culture and national identity, the vessels of a collective memory of the region’s palimpsest-likethat were the loci for Palestinian culture and national identity, the vessels of a collective memory of the region’s palimpsest-likecultural landscape, were obliterated in acts of de-signification.”cultural landscape, were obliterated in acts of de-signification.”5050UNRWA Archive
  • 18. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 1 7BooksAmid the chaos of gunfire and massacre, the flight of terrified families and the destruction ofhomes and livelihoods, Jewish militias and civilian volunteers followed the Israeli soldiers with onegoal in mind: to systematically trawl the recently evacuated [Palestinian] buildings and collectbooks and other culturally significant items. These books were handed to the National Library ofIsrael and documented using the letters AP “Abandoned Property”.A recent project entitled ‘The Great Book Robbery’ (, sets outto build a virtual library of these books and find their legal heirs. One of the project’s main featuresis a documentary, which tells this tragic story of the loss of these precious belongings, throughinterviews with the owners and their descendants. The books, as documented by ‘The Great BookRobbery’, span from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, and cover a great variety ofgenres such as history, literature, poetry, language, religion, foreign books, technology, medicine,and even a governmental report of the school curriculum in 1947.The majority of the books that are in the possession of the National Library of Israel are now kept in closed stacksand must be requested in order to view them. Some can be found amongst regular books on the shelves, displayingnew record numbers but still bearing the tell-tale mark ‘AP’ on their spines. Many have pencil marks inside themdenoting the original owner, such as SAK for Khalil Sakakini and NIMR for Muhammad Nimer al-Khatib.Photograph has been kindly donated by Kara Francis, taken from Hannah Mermelstein ‘Overdue Books: Returning Palestine’s“Abandoned Property” of 1948’, Jerusalem Quarterly 47, 2011One of Mohammad Nimer Al-Khatib’sreligious books included several names,dedications of prayer to keep thebooksafe, and a handwritten dedicationfrom father to son.IsraeliNationalLiberaryBooks bearing APmark, Israeli NationalLiberary
  • 19. 1 8 | N A K B A“Years later the Israeli Custodian removed the veil ofsecrecy: ‘The inspectors found most of the houses brokeninto, and rarely was there any furniture left,’ he wrotein his memoirs. ‘Clothes, household effects,jewelry,bedding-other than mattresses-never reached thewarehouses of the Custodial authority.’ ...More than50,000 [Palestinian]homes had been abandoned, butonly 509 carpets reached the Custodian’s warehouses”– Tom Segev51Taking Over Palestinian Property, Cultural Assets – A TimelineApril 1948The Committee for Abandoned Property is created1948-4930,000 books “collected” from West Jerusalem alone. About 6000 given to the NationalLibrary of Israel, along with 40,000-50,000 collected from cities including: Jaffa, Haifa,Tiberias, NazarethJune 1949Jewish national library announces it “has gathered tens of thousands of abandoned books”and thanks the army for “the love and understanding…shown towards this undertaking”1950Custodian of Absentee Property declared “owner” of Palestinian property through Absen-tee Property LawMay 1954Israel signs the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event ofarmed conflictStorybook Kalila andDimna, now amongbooks marked ‘AP’in Israeli NationalLibrary
  • 20. T h e U n t o l d S t o r y o f a C u l t u r a l C a t a s t r o p h e | 1 9EPILOGUENakba for Palestinians is an unfinished journey of pain, loss, and injustice. The plight of approximately 7.1 million Palestinian refugeescontinues; their rights to recognition, return, compensation, and restitution remain unfulfilled.They constitute the majority of the Palestinianpeople and as such, their collective memory is that of their nation.Nakba is also relived and remembered in Palestinians’ daily lives. Its scenes of destruction and memories of loss, have been relived bythousands since 1948.Since 1967, Israel has continued to displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians inthe Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, through its policy of homedemolition and eviction.According to United Nations and human rights organizations, Israeli authorities demolished458 Palestinian homes and structures between 2009 and 2011 in the occupied West Bank,including East Jerusalem, displacing thousands of people. Some studies suggest that since itbegan its occupation of Palestinian Territory in 1967, Israel has demolished at least 18,000Palestinian homes and structures.52The assault on Palestinian culture also continues. One of the largest recent attacks tookplace March and April of 2002, when Israeli forces destroyed at least 30 libraries and otherinformation collections. These included governmental archives, public and academic libraries,and libraries of nongovernmental organizations and private institutions.“[Thirty seven] years of fear, uncertainty, and reluctant lingeringculminated within twenty harrowing minutes. As the family gatheredon a nearby street the totality of their possessions were removed fromthe home and placed in a truck. The family were given a short timeto reclaim these pieces of their past but most of the items had beendestroyed during their hasty removal.”53Personal testimony of the Hanoun family, Sheikh Jarrah, EastJerusalem, 2009“One institution most seriously affected was the Ministry ofCulture where furniture was broken, equipment was wreckedor stolen, children’s paintings were destroyed, books, pamphlets,documents, and disks were piled up and soiled with urine andfaeces, and ‘someone even managed to defecate into a photocopier’.”54Librarian Tom Twiss on the attacks by Israeli occupationforces on Palestinian institutions.
  • 21. Endnotes1 Falah, G. ‘The 1948 Israeli-Palestinian War and Its Aftermath: The Transformation and De-Signification of Palestine’sCultural Landscape’Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 86, No. 2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 276-7, p. 4722 Davis, R. ‘The Growth of Western Communities’, in S. Tamari (ed.) Jerusalem 1948, Jerusalem, 1999, p. 473 Sakakini, H. Jerusalem and I: A Personal Record, (Jordan,: Economic Press Co., 1990) [2nd e.], p. 915 ibid., p. 486 ibid., p. 917 Palestine Encyclopedia, ibid.9 Al-‘Arif, ‘Arif. Al-Mufassal fi Tarikh al-Quds, (Jerusalem: Maktabat al-Andalus, 1992) [3rd ed., Arabic],10 ibid., p. 451-211 Sakakini, Jerusalem and I, p. 6913 Palestine Encyclopedia14 Ibid.15 Reuner,G. T. “Arab Education in the Near East,” Middle Eastern Affairs 1, nos. 8-9 (August-September 1950), p. 222.Original source, Roderic D. Mathews and MattaAkrawi, Education in Arab Countries of the Middle East (Washington, D.C.:American Council on Education, 1949)16 Palestine Encyclopedia17 Davis, ‘The Growth of Western Communities, p. 4418 Passia, ibid.20 Palestine Encyclopedia21 ibid.22 Ibid.23 Palestine Encyclopedia24 ibid.32 ibid.33 ibid.,34 ibid.38 ibid.44 Tania Tamari Nasir, Rose, John H. Melkon, Armenians of Jerualem: Memories of Life in Palestine, (New York: Radcliffe Press, 1993), p. 20047 L. Abu-Lughod, ‘Return to Half-Ruins. Memory, Post-memory, and living history in Palestine’, in A. H. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod, Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the claims of memory, 2007, p. 8648 Falah, The 1948 Israeli-Palestinian War, p. 25751 SheikhJarrah report 200954 TomTwiss, librarian, Pittsburgh, PA, 2011. Archive
  • 22. NakbaThe Untold Story of a Cultural CatastrophePalestine Liberation OrganizationNegotiations Affairs