The Great Book Robbery

chronicles of a cultural destruction
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US screening tour

Benny Brunner's picture
During February 3rd to 17th the film was screened 6 times in some leading Universities on the East Coast of the US. Among them, Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Pittsburgh. The screenings were well attended; the audience comprised of students, teachers, and members of the community. In Columbia we had Mariam Said the widow of Eduard Said and prominent Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi. The Q&As usually lasted 60-90 minute and were of high quality. A recurring feedback I got from the organisers: “The film energised us and the activists in our group.”   Read more

Israel-Palestine screening tour

Benny Brunner's picture
During January 2013 the film was screened in the three major Israeli cinematheques of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa 6 times. We produced for these screenings Arabic and Hebrew versions of the film. We participated in 3 well attended screenings in Israel. The Q&As, as expected, were emotional and at times resulted in shouting matches among the audience. I was accused of “distorting history” and “being a disgrace to Israel” among others. But most of the people were genuinely open to the film’s alternative narrative of 1948. Read more

Post broadcast

Benny Brunner's picture
I know, I didn't post for many long months. Simply put, I just didn't have the time. The work on editing the film and everything around it consumed all my time. Now, that we are post the Aljazeera broadcast and the  Read more

Editing - the beginning

Benny Brunner's picture
Two weeks into the editing; only logging the material but the story’s contours begin to get into shape. Next to dramatic testimonies of Palestinians we have some really arrogant Israeli justifications of what took place in 1948. It is fascinating to watch many of our interviewees struggling with fading memories and elusive recollections of their distant past. But, memory and the struggle to shape it form a key subject matter of this film. After all, one of this project's aims is to avoid the memory of what happened to the Palestinian books in 1948 from fading into oblivion.  Read more

Radio Against Apartheid

Karina Goulordava's picture
This past Wednesday I spoke on West Philadelphia's Radio Against Apartheid on WPEB 88.1 hosted by Matt Graber. Author of 'Mornings in Jenin' Susan Abulwaha and I discussed the importance of The Great Book Robbery and how it can be viewed through the lens of Edward Said's theory of Orientalism. Below is the link to listen to the podcast in full. If you're in the Philadelphia area, tune in every Wednesday night at 9:00pm for a new show. Read more

The National Library News

Karina Goulordava's picture
This last and final post contains quotes from Gish Amit's essay which features an excerpt from the National Library's annual booklet entitled, "The National Library News." The following quote comes from their January 1948-June 1949 report. "Throughout the years of fighting, the National Library has collected tens of thousands of abandoned books, thus saving them from ruin. This operation has been carried out with dedication and sacrifice on the employees' part. Read more

Processing the Arab Books from the Occupied Territories

Karina Goulordava's picture
In the summer of 1948, another memo was published concerning the looted Palestinian books. This time the memo was issued by Dr. Strauss, the head of the Eastern Sciences Department at the National Library. Dr. Strauss received, catalogued and stored the books. His memo was entitled, "Processing the Arab books from the occupied territories." Read more

Letter from an Unknown Source

Karina Goulordava's picture
On July 26, 1948 Kurt Warman, the director of the National Library received a letter from an unknown source. The letter read, "According to my estimates, 12,000 books or more have been collected so far. A large portion of the libraries of Arab writers and scholars is now in a safe place. Several bags of manuscripts, whose value has not been evaluated yet, are also in our hands. Most of the books come from Katamon, but we have also reached the German Colony and Musrara. We found some magnificent Arab libraries in Musrara. We also removed from Musrara part of the Swedish School's library. Read more

Competition Over Looted Palestinian Books

Karina Goulordava's picture
The director of the National Library, Kurt Warman wrote the following concerning the handling of the looted, Palestinian book. Read more

The First Letters

Karina Goulordava's picture
In mid-June 1948, the first letters were written directly referring to what is now known as The Great Book Robbery. David Senator, a Hebrew University administrator, sent the first letter to the Jewish Agency's directorate. The letter was labeled for "urgent discussion." Attached to the letter was a memo from the director of the National Library, Kurt Warman. Read more