By Cnaan Liphshiz
In accusing Israel of “robbing Palestinian identity and replacing Palestinian money,” the Netherlands’ Geldmuseum (Money Museum) has adopted propaganda that “runs contrary to the truth,” the country’s largest pro-Israel organization said this week.
The museum has denied any political bias.
The Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation (CIDI) has complained on the matter to the Geldmuseum in Utrecht following reports about an exhibition on people’s attitudes toward money.
In the exhibition, there are cardboard characters from 50 different locations including writing on what their currencies mean to them.
“The first character one sees upon entering the room is of a kaffiyeh-wearing Sami Issa from Israel, or Palestine, standing near a mock Arabic shop,” a disgruntled visitor told Haaretz.
Issa describes old paper notes, which he calls “real Palestinian money,” which “prove that Palestine existed.” He then argues the money was replaced with notes with Hebrew text, constituting “the theft of Palestinian identity.”
In a complaint letter to the museum, CIDI founder Ronny Naftaniel said he was “appalled” by the Museum’s “departure from factual truth.”
Naftaniel also wrote that from 1900 to 1948, Arabs and Jews in the Land of Israel used Ottoman, Egyptian and British money, but never “Palestinian money.”
Claiming otherwise, Naftaniel said, “gives the impression that an independent Palestinian state had existed before the birth of the State of Israel. The display goes on to reinforce this impression by saying the identity of that non-existent state was stolen.”
“The politically motivated and historically unfounded text in the exhibition is not appropriate for any museum aspiring to be a relevant source for monetary history,” Naftaniel said yesterday. The museum has not replied to his letter.
One visitor, who asked that his name be withheld from the article, said the exhibit, and the absence of an Israeli voice from it, showed that the Money Museum “has joined the fight against Zionism.”
Susanne Fels, a spokesperson for the museum denied the claim, saying the exhibit was meant to “bring people together” and that the museum has decided not to interfere with the contributors’ texts attached to the notes on display.
“The reason that no Zionist Jew expressed an opinion on the Palestinian issue is that this was not the issue we were dealing with. We invited an Israeli Jew for this exposition, who declined our invitation,” she added.