Museum Security Network

The Israeli army’s "looting" of books belonging to Palestinian intellectuals is the subject of a documentary being made by Dutch-Israeli film maker Benny Brunner. He claims as many as 30,000 Arabic books and manuscripts, some of them rare and valuable, ended up in Israel’s National Library after the 1948 war.

Brunner’s interest in the story was sparked by an article written by young Israeli academic Gish Amit who stumbled across books while researching his Ph.D. According to Mr Amit, the library “collected” the books from the private collections of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in 1948.

Benny Brunner is now recreating what he calls the “looting” of the books in a documentary, The Great Book Robbery. He hopes eventually to locate the original owners of the books. One witness he has spoken to is Nasser Eldin Al Nashashibi, a member of a well-known family of intellectuals in Jerusalem, who was in his 20s in 1948:

“Our books were stolen from my house here. They were looted by Jews. I saw that with my own eyes”.

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