Dundee University Action Palestine invite you to a showing of
THE GREAT BOOK ROBBERY on
Wednesday 20th November
5pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee
The Great Book Robbery tells the story of the systematic looting, in 1948, of tens of thousands of Palestinian books in a joint operation by the Haganah – what became the Israeli army, and the Israeli National Library. The film is the culmination of a joint project by filmmaker Benny Brunner and Arjan El Fassed, who is a co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.
Using eyewitness interviews, secretly shot footage, historic images and shots of the books themselves, The Great Book Robbery tells the story of the books and their owners, despite ongoing Israeli official denial.
Israel’s National Library denied the filmmakers permission to shoot the collection of looted Palestinian books it holds, but the filmmakers did so any way with a palm-sized camera. Not only did the National Library refuse to cooperate with the film, but the “Custodian of Absentee Property” which allegedly is responsible for the books, did not respond to requests for interviews. It was an Israeli graduate student who helped break the silence around the systematic theft. As Arwa Aburawa wrote in 2010:
“This untold story of the Nakba has remained hidden over the years until, by complete accident, Israeli graduate student Gish Amit stumbled across archives documenting the systematic looting of Palestinian books. “I came across this topic quite accidentally,” Gish admits. “I spent the first few months of my doctoral studies at various archives, among them the archive of the Jewish national and university library, where one day, I discovered the first documents regarding the collecting of the Palestinian libraries left behind during the 1948 war. Anyhow, it took me a few more weeks – and dozens of documents – to realize that there was a story to tell. A story that hasn’t yet been told and one that might enrich our knowledge about the Palestinian culture and its erasure.”
Although many Palestinian families were aware that their books were taken during the aftermath of 1948, they had no idea that there was a systematic and conscious effort to appropriate their books.
For those who are just learning about the Nakba or those who have lived with it all their lives, The Great Book Robbery is an eye-opening film.
You can also learn more about the books at the project’s website: thegreatbookrobbery.org.