Just the Facts: Preserving History and Culture

  • The Israel’s Defense Ministry’s secretive security department, Malmab, has for decades run a program to conceal the events of 1948so as to avoid unrest among the country’s Palestinian population.
  • During the British mandate colonial authorities used around 3,700 Arabic names of localities, towns and villages.
  • By contrast, there were just 200 Hebrew toponyms, most of them being names of Jewish settlements.
  • Immediately after the creation of the state of Israel a campaign to “remap” Palestine was launched, replacing Arabic names with Hebrew names so the new state could lay its claim to towns, villages, and various other geographical features.
  • A 1948 letter read: “The conventional names should be replaced by new ones … since, in an anticipation of renewing our days as of old … we must begin in the fundamental Hebraicization of our country’s map.”
  • Israel has destroyed some 530 Palestinian villages.
  • In 1957 an Israeli foreign ministry official urged the Israeli Department of Antiquities to speed up the destruction of Palestinian homes conquered during the Nakba: “They should be cleared away.”
  • Many of these destroyed villages have been planted over with artificial forests that hide their remains and replace native species with imported ones.
  • Israel has demolished hundreds of Palestinian mosques, cemeteries and other religious sites since the state’s creation in 1948. Dozens have been turned into bars and night clubs.
  • Decades of Western and Israeli history and archeology have framed Palestinian history in terms of Biblical and Jewish history, destroying and ignoring the stories and artifacts that don’t fit these narratives.

This week’s Just the Facts comes from:

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