Stolen Memories

Israeli State Repression and Appropriation of Palestinian Cultural Resources


  • Blair Kuntz University of Toronto


Palestine, Israel, cultural destruction, censorship, library resolutions;, archival restriction


After the events of “the Nakbah†(or, the Catastrophe) in 1948, Jewish military and paramilitary forces dispossessed over 800,000 Palestinians, forcing them to live as refugees. In the process of leaving, not only were their homes and land confiscated but also their cultural resources. In the intervening years, Israel has banned and censored Palestinian books and publications, and has imprisoned, deported, and assassinated Palestinian journalists, writers, and artists. These actions have spurred organizations such as the American Library Association to introduce resolutions sanctioning Israeli measures, only to see these resolutions watered-down to the point of inaction due to the intervention and agitation of pro-Israeli pressure groups. This paper describes and itemizes the actual Israeli destruction, looting and censorship of Palestinian libraries, archives, and cultural institutions both within 1948 and 1967 Palestine, as well those established by the Palestinian refugee diaspora. The paper also portrays how Israel classifies and restricts or denies access to archival materials to secure control of the historical narrative. It then delineates the deliberate Israeli harassment, imprisonment and assassination of Palestinian writers, journalists, intellectuals, and other cultural workers that have occurred since 1948. All these actions belie Israel’s self-serving propaganda image as a beacon of democracy.



2021-05-19 — Updated on 2021-08-19




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