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The Great Book Robbery
About the Film:
This film describes the looting of 70,000 Palestinian books by the newly created State of Israel in 1948. When Palestinians were expelled from their homes, part of Palestinian culture was also destroyed: furniture, musical instruments, carpets, and also valuable books.
Some books were saved and arrived at the National Library and the Hebrew University, labeled “AP” for Abandoned Property.
The film interweaves various story lines into a structure that is both dramatically compelling and emotionally unsettling. The interviews center on eyewitness accounts and cultural critiques that place the book-theft affair in a larger historical-cultural context. In the process, new light is shed on the Palestinian tragedy of 1948, and the moralistic-heroic Israeli narrative of the 1948 war is deconstructed.
Ilan Pappé says in the movie that appropriation of the culture assets is no different from appropriation of the land. It was done to defeat the Palestinian project – to erase Palestine from history. He goes on to suggest possible steps of reconciliation, namely, to list the property for heirs to claim and turn over the remainder to Palestinian universities.
Filmmaker Benny Brunner will join us through video conferencing to respond to audience questions following this screening. A Dutch-Israeli filmmaker, Brunner has been writing, directing, and producing documentary films internationally since the early 1990s. He makes critical political films that side with the dispossessed, the unrepresented, and “the other”.
Language: English; Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles