Overdue Books: Returning Palestine’s “Abandoned Property” of 1948, Part 5

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I’ve spent the past four weeks blogging about the research I did on Palestinian books considered “Abandoned Property” by Israel. My research was for an academic degree, yes, but it was primarily for practical and activist purposes. I am far more of an activist than an academic. Today I’ll leave you with resources for education and activism. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just a few things in each category that I find helpful.

For more about the case of the AP books in particular:

Overdue Books: Returning Palestine’s “Abandoned Property” of 1948 by me (article)

Ownerless Objects: The story of the books Palestinians left behind in 1948 by Gish Amit (article)

The Great Book Robbery by Benny Brunner (website, film trailer, soon to be film)

Websites with more of this type of archival information dating back to 1948 and before:

Palestine Land Society


Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Books to read (there are so many more – these are just a very few that I feel like highlighting today):

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe (good for history of 1948 in particular, destruction of Palestinian villages, etc. Also check out his A History of Modern Palestine for a slightly broader timeline.)

I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti (poetic and poignant, reflections on returning to Palestine 30 years after the war in  1967)

This Side of Peace by Hanan Ashrawi (memoir and political history about negotiations in the Oslo era – early 1990s – from one of the most well-known Palestinian women)

Sharon and My Mother-In-Law by Suad Amiry (memoir about the Second Intifada – early 2000s – full of both humor and poignancy)

Palestine by Joe Sacco (if you’re into the comic form, this one’s for you!)

Zaatar Diva by Suheir Hammad (poetry from a fabulous Palestinian American spoken word artist – born and raised in Brooklyn!)

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights by Omar Barghouti (from a leading Palestinian activist, the case for BDS – Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – against Israel, written with clarity and hope)

A movie and a couple short videos:

Slingshot Hip Hop (best movie ever, in my opinion) J

On the Day Yafa’s Refugees Return (7 minute video from Israeli organization Zochrot, exploring the right of return for Palestinian refugees)

Targeted Citizen (15 minute film about Palestinian citizens of Israel, put out by Adalah, a Palestinian legal rights organization in Haifa)

News and analysis:


Electronic Intifada



Ok, before giving a few links here, I just want to say a few words about the BDS movement, since it is currently the biggest (and growing!) organized global movement against Israeli occupation, colonialism, and apartheid. In July 2005, 171 Palestinian civil society organizations put out a call to the world to impose boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and basic human rights. The movement has 3 demands, corresponding to the 3 different groups of Palestinian people:

1. An end to the occupation of the Arab lands and a dismantling of the Wall

2. Equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel

3. Right of return for Palestinian refugees, as reaffirmed in UN Resolution 194

For me, this movement is particularly significant for a number of reasons. First, it brings together different Palestinian populations that Israel has done its best to divide, and its demands are a unifying force for Palestinians who don’t necessarily all agree on political solutions. Next, it is modeled on and connected to a number of other movements, including the boycott movement against South African apartheid, and at the same time it is a continuation of a long history of Palestinian nonviolent civil protest that has mostly been ignored in Western discourse. Finally, it gives all of us around the world a framework and a tactic that is both principled and effective (I don’t have time to go into all the BDS successes so far, but there have been many and the movement is still young!). I used to speak to groups about Palestine and when they would ask, “What can I do?” I would say things like, “Read more, learn more, talk to your Congresspeople…” Of course, these are all important, but I don’t particularly have faith that any of them, at this moment, will bring about the change that is so urgently needed. BDS is full of hope and vision. It is deeply rooted in Palestinian leadership, yet flexible and context-specific in a way that inspires local organizing and creativity, and includes all people (Palestinians, Israelis, people around the globe). Are you sold yet? If not, see Omar Barghouti’s book in the list above. And check out some of these websites:

BDS National Committee (BNC) (includes the BDS call)

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) (I didn’t talk about the cultural boycott, but I’m deeply involved in that work – number one thing to know here is that it’s not a boycott of art or artists, but of institutions complicit in occupation.)

Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS) (Amazing group of activists responding to pinkwashing and other forms of Islamophobia and/or whitewashing of Israel’s crimes)

Local organizing:

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (the group I work with in NY)

Jewish Voice for Peace (nationally campaigning to get TIAA-CREF to divest from occupation)

Students for Justice in Palestine (I can’t link this because there are dozens of them, but if you’re a student, google SJP and your school and see if something comes up.)

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (national group, good resource to find local organizing)

Finally, if you’re ever interested in going to Palestine, I lead human rights delegations in the region and know of several others as well. E-mail me (my full name at gmail) for more on that or anything else.

Again, thanks for having me as your guest blogger for the month! I’ll leave you with a few words from Howard Zinn: “The memory of oppressed people is one thing that cannot be taken away, and for such people, with such memories, revolt is always an inch below the surface.”

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