The Great Book Robbery, by director Benny Brunner, co-produced by Xela Films for Aljazeera’s English Witness slot.

Was the appropriation of Palestinian books and manuscripts in 1948 a case of cultural theft or preservation?

Chronicles of a cultural destruction: The story of 60,000 looted books.

The film reconstructs in a multifaceted approach the systematic looting – by the newly born State of Israel – of 60,000 Palestinian books during the 1948 war.
Dramatic new light illuminates the disaster that wreaked not only the Palestinian people in 1948 but also their culture. A particularly chilling document, from March 1948, lists tens of Jerusalemites whose libraries were looted.

For decades Zionist and Israeli propaganda described the Palestinians as “people without culture.” Thus, the victorious Israeli state took upon itself to civilize the Palestinians who remained within its borders at the end of the 1948 war: They were forbidden to study their own culture or to remember their immediate past; their memory was seen as a dangerous weapon that had to be suppressed and controlled.

The Great Book Robbery is a multifaceted cultural heritage project. It has two major components: a documentary film and this very website:

Farewell my library! Farewell mansion of wisdom, temple of philosophers, institute of science, council house of literature!” ~ Khalil al-Sakakini

© 2012 Benny Brunner, 2911 Foundation & Xela Films