Why looting was central to the Nakba

These gushing lines from a letter don’t describe shopping items, but bounty: an Israeli soldier’s private profits from the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the city of Safed during the war of 1948.

Alongside the massacres, expulsions, and expropriations of that war, Israelis — combatants and civilians alike — stole and looted an astonishing range of Palestinian belongings: personal items, musical instruments, livestock, agricultural produce, agricultural machinery, antiquities, and the contents of entire stores and libraries. The full scale and value of private plunder has never been established conclusively, as only items expropriated by or handed over to the state were documented in detail.

This mass theft is the subject of “Looting of Arab Property in the War of Independence,” a new book by historian Adam Raz, who works as a researcher at the Israeli archival group Akevot. The book concentrates specifically on the looting of movable assets belonging to Palestinians who were expelled from their land in 1948 and never permitted to return.

Raz separates this particular practice from the expropriation of Palestinian land by the nascent Israeli state, in a bid to trace acts initiated not from the top “by political decree,” but rather “from the bottom up” — by neighbors who cohabited in a shared space until the very eve of war. This experience, Raz believes, proved formative in shaping the

— source 972mag.com | Avi-ram Tzoreff | Mar 24, 2022

Nullius in verba

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