THIS WEBSITE IS THE FOCAL POINT OF A MULTI-PRONGED EFFORT TO:
- 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.
In time we intend to translate their entire online catalogue – close to 6000 – of these books. We are looking for volunteers who can translate from Arabic to English in order to complete this work. Please contact us if you are interested.
|Record number||Author||Title||Classification||Publisher||Year of publication|
|A-Dur Al-Nadid: Basics of Quran Intonation||Quran Studies||Jaffa: Al-Samhura|
|Collections of Classical Letters||Arabic Prose||Cairo: Mustafa Al-Babi-Alhalabi||1913|
|1001 Nights||Classic Literature||Egypt: Muhammad Ali Sabih Library|
|Kalila wa Dumna||Classic Literature||Egypt: Khazandar Publishing||1934|
|–||Book of Literary Tips: For Students of Arabic||Literature Studies||Egypt: Al-Saada Publishing||1907|
|—||Book of Intonation for Worship||Arabic literature||Beirut||1857|
|Abdallah, Tawfiq||Al-Qissas Al-Hadithat (The Modern Stories)||French fiction||Egypt: The Modern Printing Press||1924|
|Abdel-Raziq, Haroon||The Constructive Didactic Principles||Education||Alexandria: The Publishing House of Egypt|
|Abdul-Jawad, Muhammad||AL-Tathkira||Linguistics||Egypt: Al-Maaref Publishing House||1935|
|Ahmed Shawky||Layla’s Fool||Egypt: Egypt Press||1931|
|Ahmed Timoor||Translations of the Elites from the 13th and Early 14th Century||—||Egypt: Abd Alhamid Ahmed Hanafy||1940|
|Al-Abyari, Abdul Hadi Naja||The Piercing Star||Historiography||Egypt||1862|
|Al-Adawi, Sayed Qutub||Hidayat Al-Mureed: The Theory of Quran Intonation||Quran Studies||Egypt, Tanata: The Public Library||1927|
|Al-Alusi, Mahmmud Shukri||Translations of Baghdad Thinkers in the 12th and 13th Centuries||Literature||Baghdad: The Arab Library||1930|
|Al-Ansari, Zakariya Abu Yihya||Al-Lulu Al-Nathim||Dictionaries||Egypt: The Encyclopedia PrinHouse||1901|
|Al-Ansari, Zakariya Abu Yihya||Introduction to Common Phrases in Islamic Thought||Dictionaries||Egypt: The Encyclopedia PrinHouse||1901|
|Al-Aqad, Abbas Mahmoud||The Story of Qambiz and The Scale||Plays||Beirut: Al-Majal Al-Jadida Publishing House|
|Al-Asma’ai, Muhammad Abdul Jawad||Arab Epochs: Arabs and Arabic in the Jahilya Epoch||History and Linguistics||Egypt: Al-Jamliya Publishing House||1912|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes on Al-Azhariya Interpretation||Linguistics||Egypt: The Ottoman Publishing House||1901|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes on Al-Azhariya Interpretation||Linguistics||Egypt: Al-Khiriya Publishing||1891|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes on Al-Azhariya Interpretation||Linguistics||–|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes on AL-Zahiriya’s Interpretation||Linguistics||Egypt: Al-Castaliya Publishing||1864|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes||Linguistics||Egypt: Al-Hajar Publishing||1862|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes on AL-Zahiriya’s Interpretation||Linguistics||Cairo: AL-Kahiriya Publishing||1885|
|Al-Azhari, Khaled bin Abdullah||Hassan Al-Attar’s Notes on AL-Zahiriya’s Interpretation||Linguistics||Egypt: Al-Maumaniya Publishing||1889|
The drive to “collect” the books came from the management and librarians of Israel’s National Library – a leading cultural institution of the Zionist movement and the state of Israel – where all the valuable books ended up. Another forty thousand (40,000) Palestinian books were “collected” in Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth and other places.
Today, about six thousand of the these books can be found on the shelves of the National Library, organised like a fossilized army of a dead Chinese emperor, accessible but lifeless, indexed with the label AP – Abandoned Property.
This entirely unknown historical event came into light by chance; an Israeli PhD student – while researching in various state archives – stumbled upon documents from 1948-9 that mentioned “collecting books in Arabic from occupied territories.”
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 inflicted upon the Palestinian people and their culture in 1948. A particularly chilling document from March 1949 lists tens of Jerusalemites whose libraries were “collected” – 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.