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Institutional use, like universities, the DVD price is Euro 250. Individual use – Euro 38.

The Great Book Robbery (57 minute) documentary is in English & Hebrew with English subtitles. And is also available with Arabic or Hebrew sutitles.

When buying please provide a postal address to send the DVD to.

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Five years in the making, the 57-minute film interweaves various story lines in a structure that is dramatically compelling and emotionally unsettling. The film’s interviews center on eyewitness accounts and cultural critiques that place the book plunder affair in a larger historical-cultural context.

If you are interested in hosting a screening please fill the form below.

Hosting a screening will entail an honorarium, provision of travel fare and accommodation for the director, as well as logistical arrangements for the venue of the screening.

The director’s suggested honorarium is ranges from $1000.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration, we hope to get a chance to screen the documentary to your audience.

The Great Book Robbery trailer is here:

Dayana Khatib & Karina Goulordova
National Tour Directors

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The great Book Robbery employs a multifaceted approach to tell a multi-layered story: dramatic location filming, eyewitness accounts, archival footage, pictorial material, C.G.I.—computer generated images, documents and culture critiques.

The film interweaves various story lines in a structure that is dramatically compelling and emotionally unsettling. For example, we reveal, gradually, the mechanism behind this state sponsored looting – how it was done practically. Interwoven into this story line are the eyewitness accounts and culture critiques that place the plunder affair in a larger historical-cultural context. Another story line is the justifications, produced internally by the National Library’s management, for the “collection” of the books – “we carried out a cultural salvage operation”.

Among the participants: Palestinian author and editor Mohammed Batrawi; Palestinian-Israeli author and scriptwriter Ala Hlehel; Aziz Shehadeh, a Palestinian-Israeli lawyer from Nazareth, and former Israeli librarian Uri Palit, both indexed the “collected” books in the early 1960s. We also interviewed Nasser Eddin Nashashibi, who witnessed the looting of his uncle’s (Is’aaf Nashashibi) priceless library. The Nashashibis trace their presence in Palestine to the 13th century. In 1948 Nasser was in his early 20s. His own books were looted too, among them Makramiyat which he received from its Egyptian author in 1945 with a personal inscription. We found the book in the National Library; the handwritten inscription fitted to the last comma Nashashibi’s recollection of it.

Israel has constructed a moralistic and heroic narrative of the 1948 war. One of the film’s aims is to deconstruct this imperial history. In this context we interviewed noted Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. Other participants are Palestinian author Ghada Karmi; Israeli curator Rona Sela; and Palestinian-Israeli social-historian Mahmoud Yazbak.

Ultimately, the film’s purpose is to prevent this story from fading into oblivion by passing it on to future generations.




Posted: July 26, 2013 – 15:48
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.”


Posted: July 26, 2013 – 15:46
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.


Posted: May 22, 2012 – 18:43
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


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.


Posted: November 18, 2011 – 13:36
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.


Posted: October 9, 2011 – 16:37
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.


Posted: October 7, 2011 – 16:10
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.”


Posted: October 6, 2011 – 13:48
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.


The director of the National Library, Kurt Warman wrote the following concerning the handling of the looted, Palestinian book.


Posted: September 28, 2011 – 15:44
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.



was established in Febuary 2010 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by filmmakers Benny Brunner,  Alexandra Jansse of Xela Films and Amsterdam Art Station, and lobbyist, digital media proponent, and member of Parliament Arjan El Fassed in order to produce The Great Book Robbery project. The three shared a common appreciation of the project’s importance and the vision of how it should be made.

For contributions, payments, and DVD purchase:

2911 Foundation
Account number: 412430622
IBAN: NL63ABNA0412430622
Banking institution: ABN-AMRO bank (Netherlands)
PayPal:  2911foundation(at)
2911 Foundation
Weteringschans 40/1
1017SH Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T +31 20 6277859



(b. 1954, Israeli-Dutch) has written, directed, and produced documentary films internationally since the late 1980s. Brunner sides with the dispossessed, unrepresented, and the ‘other’. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jewish and modern Israeli history, and inspiring individuals are the subject matters of his films. His work is subversive in nature and has proven to be a thorn in the collective Israeli establishment’s backside.



is a member of parliament in the Netherlands. He is the son of a Palestinian father and Dutch mother. He was interim head of humanitarian campaigns at an international development organization and has worked for several human rights organisations in Palestine. El Fassed is the author of ‘Niet iedereen kan stenen gooien’ and has initiated several successful social media initiatives.


is the soul-child of veteran director-producer Alexandra Jansse who founded it in 2001 with the mission to produce films that matter – stories that utilize our collective human experience and offer new perspectives on our existence. Xela Films productions have been shown internationally on ARTE, TVE (Spain), Spiegel TV (Germany), Al-Jazeera, SBS Australia, Discovery Channel Europe, Dutch TV, Israeli TV, and others.


is an idea-driven graphic design collaboration based in Rotterdam, formed by Ties Alfrink and Hugo de Pagter. In early 2009, after having gained experience as designers at Categorie 1, Studio Dumbar (Ties), Nike and Vijf890 (Hugo) they felt the need to set up their own shop.


is a design studio founded by James Burke which explores and critically thinks about culture, communities and new technologies to meaningfully intervene or develop new products and services.

Projects Aims


  • Build a virtual library for the 70.000 “collected” books.
  • Find the books’ legal heirs.
  • Mobilise legal action.
  • Podcast “collected” literature and poetry.
  • Raise funds for documentation and outreach programmes; especially for turning this website into a genuine interactive site with a database streaming video, audio, and much more.
  • Organise exhibitions and art installations around the looted books; reprint some of them as an act of cultural renewal.

The website will become an interactive repository, allowing visitors to upload and rearrange information to it according to their needs. People will be able to create narratives of this event according to date, location, specific family library or any other criteria they choose.

This is a major undertaking that in time will evolve into more than just online activity. We imagine collaboration among academics, researchers, and grass roots groups with the aim of documenting and reviving Palestinian culture before 1948.