Random Nakba fact: Early Zionist thought police destroyed tens of thousands of Palestinian books in name of security

by Yaniv Reich on July 15, 2010

This is not a current event, but then again the Israeli effort to erase Palestinians from history and contemporary life make the article forever relevant.

According to a doctoral dissertation prepared at Ben-Gurion University using Israeli government archives, Israel “plundered and destroyed” 27,000 Palestinian books as part of its effort to “Judaize the country,” which is a rather obvious euphemism for ethnic cleansing, of course.

Israel destroyed the Palestinian books in the framework of its plan to “Judaize the country” and cut off its Arab residents from their nation and culture.

According to the doctoral dissertation, Israeli authorities collected tens of thousands of Arab books in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Safed, and other towns that were home to Arabs. Israeli officials proceeded to hand out about half the books, while destroying the second half, characterizing them as a “security threat,” the researcher said.

In his al-Jazeera interview, the researcher claimed that, based on Israeli archives, IDF troops plundered the books from the homes of Palestinians expelled during the “Nakba” and handed them over to authorities. The State proceeded to establish a library in Jaffa and other towns for the books, he said.

The researcher told al-Jazeera that according to documents he possesses, Israel destroyed 27,000 books in 1958, claiming that they were useless and threatened the State. Authorities sold the books, most of them textbooks, to a paper plant, he said.

“This was a cultural massacre undertaken in a manner that was worse than European colonialism, which safeguarded the items it stole in libraries and museums,” the researcher charged.

There is much to be said about Israel’s hyper-paranoid definition of security, but the main point I would like to highlight is the effort to Judaize the country, to rid the country of its Arab inhabitants (as documented by Benny Morris and early Zionist leaders themselves, such as Ben-Gurion (1937), who explained “we must expel the Arabs and take their places”), to destroy or resettle their villages, to erase them from memory, and then propagate the revolting nationalist myth that “Palestine is a country without a people for a people without a country.”

A mind-numbing, gut-wrenching, logic-shattering piece of chauvinistic chutzpah.

Of course, most Israelis don’t know much about this history of ethnic cleansing. And even if they have heard of some of the more famous massacres of Arab innocents, like at Deir Yassin, they do not know much about the coordinated attacks on Palestinian history. Ben-Gurion led massive efforts to erase Arabs and Arabic from the geographical and social landscapes, which were presumably to be followed by Palestine’s erasure from the political one as well, or so the thinking went. So most Israelis don’t know about the Jewish National Fund’s Names Committee or the Negev Name Committee, both founded by Ben-Gurion, which together assigned over 200 new names to formerly Palestinian towns because “Israel was obliged for reasons for state to remove Arabic names.”

This effort found great “success”, as Moshe Dayan, Israel’s famous former Defense Minister, explained:

“You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either…. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

And this is the essential story of how a land populated with over 450 Palestinian towns has become a map filled with Hebrew. With the publication of this dissertation on the destruction of Palestinian intellectual life, we now know a bit more about the social disaster that was the founding of Israel.

An utterly disgraceful chapter not only in Jewish history but in world history at large.


As I first published this, some racist nimrod named Moshe Dann took to the pages of Ynet to write about the non-existence of the Palestinian identity that his idols did so much to try and erase. It boggles the mind that this genocidal soul butter (definition: moralizing drivel with the purpose of erasing a people) can still be published anywhere on earth, much less taken at all seriously by, say, aspiring political leaders in the US (e.g. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin).

He writes:

Efforts to impose a Palestinian state (the “two-state” proposal) are doomed to fail for one simple reason: Palestinian Arabs do not want such a state; they don’t constitute a nation, or a people. Their nationalism is not based on a unique linguistic, historical, cultural, or religious identity; its primary goal is to wipe out the State of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants.

Palestinianism’ is not a national identity, but a political construct developed as part of a terrorist agenda when the PLO was formed in 1964. It was a way of distinguishing between Arabs and Jews, and between Arabs who lived in Israel before 1948 and other Arabs.

What a violent, orientalist, colonial mentality allows this man to write about what Palestinians want. But what a shocking chutzpah allows him to overlook the history of ethnic cleansing highlighted by his own newspaper. Disgusting.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Joseph August 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people. Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. ”

— Zuheir Muhsin, late Military Department head
of the PLO and member of its Executive
Council, Dutch daily Trouw, March 1977

Maybe that’s where he got that idea.

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