How Israel Uses Museums to Destroy Palestinian Existence | Israeli and Palestinian conflict


The destruction of Palestine and Palestine is the call of the Israeli government.

After all, the myth of Palestine’s nonexistence is part of its founding. In the year This call was on full display in the Nakba of 1948, when Palestinian communities were wiped out. Strategic military campaign.

The ongoing settler violence against Palestinian communities with impunity is further evidence that this desire to destroy Palestine and Palestinians continues in our time.

But this erasure is not just a matter of making Palestinians invisible, either physically or materially. The same goes for the stories told about the past.

As active participants in this colonial effort, Israeli museums play an important role.

Terror of Israeli museums

I observed this while doing fieldwork at the Mount Scopus campus. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem In 2015

The grounds today look like a museum celebrating Jewish history, accompanied by archaeological finds – a marble statue from the Temple of Augustus in Samaria, made by King Herod, and a stone from the Third Wall of the Second Temple. It adorns the front of the Institute of Archaeology.

The idea is to demonstrate the Israeliness of the land – deliberately spreading ignorance that the university is built on stolen Palestinian land.

The Tower of David Museum did the same. Officially, the museum website He described the Jerusalem Wall as “the meeting point of ancient and modern, East and West, history and innovation, experience and creation” and that the museum is linked to the history of Jerusalem and its significance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. .

However, the museum has been accused for a long time Destroy systematically Islamic and Palestinian heritage. After Israel occupied the site, authorities forbade worshiping at mosques. The Israel Antiquities Authority removed the dome and crescent on the grounds. And Accounts Identifying artifacts clearly highlights the city’s Jewish and Israeli “nationalist views.”

The museum on the sea Claims To convey the history of the divided Jerusalem and its performances, it is to “raise various social issues for public discussion and bridge the gaps”. But in practice they are Do a little In recognition of the fact that the building that houses the museum was once owned by the Palestinian Barkami family who were forced out of Jerusalem during the Nakba.

Museums that celebrate Mina Jewish dependent organizations Try to perpetuate the myth that Palestine did not exist when Israel was created. These organizations wrote most of them. Violence During the Nakba in places like Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and Tiberias. For example, the organization Palmach established new Israeli settlements and in “Cleaning works” in rural Palestinian communities.

In the year When I visited the Beit HaPalmach, or Palmach Museum, in Tel Aviv in 2013, this politics of annihilation seemed to continue. During my visit, the exhibition in the museum was three-dimensional, and visitors passed a film that recreated the life of the young Palmach recruits during the Israeli “war of independence”.

While the targets of the Palmach attack were Palestinian communities, Palestine and the Palestinians were left out of the story. In fact, the words “Palestine” and “Palestine” are never used in the film.

Instead, the Palestinians were simply called “Arabs.” This in itself shows that the Palestinians are not recognized as a national community different from other Arab countries.

But even when the Palestinian (or “Arab”) presence is mentioned, it is quickly pushed to the margins of the narrative. In particular, there were only two instances when “Arabs” were mentioned.

The first was when the film’s characters simply referred to the Palestinian fighters as “Arab thugs.” The second is a conversation between two Palmach recruits who appear to be momentarily concerned about the “problem” of Palestinian refugees. One character asks, “What shall we do with the refugees?” he asks. The other, in a no-nonsense tone, replies, “Do what’s best.” Both characters are ignorant of how these refugees migrated and seem to care less about the dangers of mass displacement of Palestinians from what they consider their national home.

In the year In 2015, visiting the Haganah Museum in Tel Aviv, the same erasure of Palestinians was evident, especially in the exhibit on the Great Revolt of 1936-39 against the British Mandate and its open policy of encouraging Jewish immigration.

Historian Rosemary Saigh says. It is described The revolt was one of the first significant national crises faced by Palestinian farmers in the long journey of the Palestinian struggle for independence. The violent response from extremist groups like the Haganah was a prelude to the Nakba. The rebellion also had regional significance. the longest –Persistent “Military Anti-Imperialist Struggle in the Arab World” until the beginning of the Algerian War of Independence.

But the exhibition in the museum does not recognize the historical significance of the uprising or the existence of the Palestinian people and their national issue. Instead, he describes the Great Revolt in Palestine, led by “Arabs” and targeting Jews and the British, simply as “riots” and “bloody riots.”

The museum visitor is left with the impression that the violence was carried out for no reason or reason beyond harming the Jewish people.

Museums and colonialism

Of course, museums in general have long been used as media to display and celebrate colonial power and empire-building exploits. In fact, the historian Robert Aldrich has. He argued“Empire building and museum building went hand in hand”.

Specimens of plants and animals, statues and precious stones, mummies and skulls – collected or It was stolen – Those displayed in museums often help to establish a hegemonic, metropolitan view of “primitive” peoples and cultures in distant lands.

The Royal Museum of Central Africa in Brussels was founded in 1898 by Leopold II. Respect Belgium’s “civilizing practice” in the Congo, dismisses critics of his brutal repressive policies there and proclaims the civilized superiority of the Belgians compared to the “uncivilized Congolese tribes”.

in HawaiiAt the Honolulu Academy of Arts or the Pope Museum, the exhibition only refers to colonialism. And this omission is to maintain ignorance of the violent overthrow of the Hawaiian government by white businessmen and the United States military, and of Hawaii’s settlement as a settler colony.

The British Museum in Bloomsbury, London is one of the great examples of how empire building and museum building went hand in hand. The spread of exhibits from all corners of the world is symbolic. Limitless The power of the British Empire. Historians also refer to catalogs of exhibits as “Imperial war chestHe said.

Resistance through museums

As Palestinians face Israel’s unrelenting military terror, the museum offensive may seem pointless. But it reminds us of how history and heritage can be harnessed.

This is why it is important to use the same tools of history and heritage to counter Israeli oppression. The Museum of the Palestinian People in Washington, DC in the United States strives to preserve and celebrate. Palestinian History, Art and Culture. He testified that a Spill Average monthly attendance increased from 132 people in 2022 to 277 people in 2023, between shifts. Public awareness In support of Palestine.

In the year In 2016, the Palestine Museum was inaugurated in Bir Zeit in the occupied West Bank. The first exhibition was titled.Jerusalem will live.He showed a “vibrant face” of a city besieged by Israeli military attacks, closures and “exclusionary policies” targeting Palestinians.

The settler can weaponize historical narratives and artifacts to erase the signature of Palestinian existence in the Holy Land. But these Palestinian efforts show how those efforts can be countered with a bold response: “We are here, and we belong.”

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

We offer you some site tools and assistance to get the best result in daily life by taking advantage of simple experiences