Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fahrentheit 451 in Israel

Guernica reports a little known historical incident: Israeli forces, in 1948, raided Palestinian homes for books and newspapers, in an attempt to erase Palestinian history and culture.

This incident is now documented in Dutch-Israeli filmmaker Benny Brunner's film, The Great Book Robbery.

According to Guernica's article:

"As the 1948 war which led to the creation of Israel was in full gear, a campaign was under way to steal Palestinians’ cultural patrimony. Israeli forces entered vacant Palestinian homes and removed over seventy thousand books, newspapers, and manuscripts which ultimately led to the premature death of a Palestinian literary and cultural movement.

"When Benny Brunner, a Dutch-Israeli filmmaker, discovered this hidden chapter of history and its implications, he decided the story must be told, the books a heritage that must be returned.

"In a war which led to the creation of seven hundred and fifty thousand refugees and a simmering conflict running for over sixty years, stolen books may seem like a trifle compared to other kinds of loss—lost homes, lost lives. But books, as the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges illustrated so well in his stories, almost literally contain the world.

"Brunner’s film The Great Book Robbery is the latest in a line of documentaries in which he challenges the Zionist narrative, a narrative he sees as dangerous and counterproductive....

"[Brunner] served in the Israeli Army in his youth and never thought he would have reason to question the Zionist narrative, which insisted that Palestinians were not expelled in 1948 but fled because their leaders told them to leave. In this version they were promised a triumphant return once they had drowned the Jews in the sea....

"[But later, Brunner says,] 'I began to realize that a lot of what we were taught at high school -- the history and the Zionist narrative -- was made up,' he explains. 'These were just legends of nation building.' "

The Israeli State is trying to erase history. I don't know whether their actions are more comparable to Fahrenheit 451's book-burning, or 1984's Memory Hole.

1 comment:

john jay said...

This is a good time for my old standard:
"Who wiped whom off the map?"