Palestinian historian Saleh Abd al-Jawad has argued that as part of the depopulation of Arab Palestine in 1948, “Israelis destroyed or confiscated all public libraries, printing presses, and publishing houses, the land registry, the archives of municipal councils, hospitals, schools, and cultural centers” in addition to the erasure of “private libraries, family papers, and personal diaries of intellectuals.” While countless destroyed records are lost, much of the looted Palestinian cultural heritage remains inaccessible in Israeli archives, including those of the Shin Bet, the military archives, and state archives. In recent decades, a small subset of these materials has been made available to scholars. These declassified sources joined with materials produced by the Palestinian minority within Israel, and sources in previously unused Zionist archives resulted in new and innovative studies of pre- and post-1948 Arab Palestine. This roundtable will discuss both the theoretical implications of the destruction and looting of Palestinian archival heritage and the continued withholding of the materials from the public eye and the practical matters of what is currently available to scholars, where it is located, and how to access it. Participants will discuss ways in which they circumvent erasure by using different Israeli archives to uncover Palestinian history and find alternative sources and modes of analysis to produce novel historical writing about Palestine. Participants will address the ways in which they find and use sources in state archives, Zionist movement archives, archives of international organizations and Zionist organizations based abroad, local archives in kibbutzim, moshavot, moshavim and regional and municipal council archives, personal archives, consular records, laws, minutes, and proceedings from the Knesset and the different ministries. In addition, non-written sources, such as oral histories (with Palestinian and non-Palestinian interlocuters), the landscape, and the built environment, as well as video and audio recordings, photographs, maps, films, and more. These new sources and novel methods of reading and analysis make it possible to better map the changes in social, cultural, economic, legal, and environmental conditions of Palestine and the Palestinian people through loss, erasure, and censorship. We aim to highlight indigenous persistence and resistance in hegemonic archives of the settler state and to emphasize that no act of erasure can ever be complete.
Dr. Mezna Qato – Presenter (PARC Fellow)
Dr. Shay Hazkani – Organizer, Presenter (PARC Fellow)
Nimrod Ben Zeev – Presenter
Basma Fahoum – Organizer, Presenter