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HALT THE DESTRUCTION
OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

Stop the eradication of Palestinian cultural heritage and knowledge through settlement expansion and targeted destruction, bulldozing and bombing.

04

A BRIEF CONTEXT 

      “The erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine”

IlAN PAPPE

WRITER & HISTORIAN

     Termed as memoricide by historian Ilan Pappe, a core strategy of settler-colonial states is the destruction of indigenous people’s culture, seeking to erase it from historical memory. Both the British Mandate and then Israel have used this strategy intending to stifle Palestinian self-determination and weaken a sense of belonging, identity and unity as they continue the expansion of land control.

SETTLEMENT EXPANSION & LAND GRABS

    Since 1948, one of the most significant factors in the eradication of Palestinian cultural buildings is the physical expansion of Israeli settlements. This expansion can be viewed in these MAPS, with 2023 becoming an all-time record for settlement construction in the West Bank, according to Peace Now. This means that any call to end the destruction of Palestinian cultural heritage must also include an immediate halt to settlement expansion. 

Two examples include:

      In 2022 the Sakiya Art, Science and Agricultural space was ransacked, vandalised and smashed up by settlers. Sakiya is described by their team as being “in a unique natural site of high cultural, historic, and spiritual importance”. Located in Area C, it is surrounded by the illegal Settlements of Dole and Talmon that sit on the hilltops, blocking access to agricultural lands and natural resources which Israel has confiscated while also severing connections between local Palestinian villages.

     The Yabous Cultural Centre in East Jerusalem was founded in 1995 to strengthen artistic life in Jerusalem and to keep Jerusalem, the Palestinian capital, on the map. The Israeli authorities who oversee the premises have waged a relentless campaign to close down the building, which includes  ransacking the building and confiscating documents and equipment. Since the US decided to move their embassy to Jerusalem, this has escalated with the arrests of the director, Rania Elias, and her husband Suhail Khoury.

DELIBERATE ERADICATION

     Israel specifically targets, bombs and bulldozes cultural heritage, including educational and cultural buildings, monuments and landmarks.  In 2018 they bombed the Said Al-Mishal Cultural Centre, turning a six-story building into a crater. Less than a month before, the Village of Arts and Crafts, had been destroyed, and in 2009 the Red Crescent Theatre and Gaza School of Musical Arts were razed to the ground.  

      One month into the genocide in Gaza, a survey by Heritage for Peace, found that over 100 cultural landmarks had been damaged, including churches, mosques and cemeteries.

THE FREEDOM THEATRE

​     After the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis in 2011, The Freedom Theatre has been repeatedly targeted. This includes, most recently in July 2023 the theatre being damaged due to bombing, and a few months later in December, the army occuping the building, and destroying everything in the offices, including computers and hard drives that held the history of the theatre.  The threat that the army will attack the building and harm those inside, including children, is making daily work and training very difficult.

SCHOLASTICIDE

​    Attacks on Palestinian scholars, students, and educational institutions date back to the Nakba in 1948, and continued after the 1967 war on Palestine and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Termed Scholasticide by Professor Karma Nabulsi, she used it to describe the "systematic destruction of Palestinian education by Israel". 

     Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reported that Israel has systemically destroyed every university in Gaza since the beginning of October 2023. Hundreds of schools have been bombed, and students and teachers killed.

   The destruction of knowledge and cultural heritage also includes targeting archives. In November 2023, Israel shelled the central Archives of Gaza City, causing a fire which completely destroyed the archives which held Gaza’s history and contained 150 years of records.

WAR CRIME

      Under international law, deliberately targeting or stealing from religious, historical, and cultural sites is prohibited

READ MORE IN No. 6 >>

EXAMPLES OF ACTION TO INSPIRE YOUR OWN

HOLD AN EXHIBITION

French Friends Of The Freedom Theatre
French Friends Of The Freedom Theatre

LES AMIS DU THEATRE DE LA LIBERTÉ DE JÉNINE hold an exhibition on the destruction of cultural buildings in Palestine on the street as part of a protest in Paris.

CREATE A PORTAL

Gaza Mirror is an installation created at PRIMAVERA SOUND connecting Gaza and Barcelona, reflecting the current devastation in Gaza through some emblematic buildings in Barcelona. The idea is to challenge the viewer's privileged perspective in Barcelona and reflect on how our global realities are interconnected, highlighting the individual responsibility in perpetuating violence.

COMBINE ART WITH PROTEST

Screenshot 2024-02-17 at 09.39.59.png

Created by Ahmed Masoud, Obliterated was a theatrical experiment and an artistic protest where there as never a play or a production. Ahmed wanted to highlight what it felt like to have art and theatre taken away from the audience in protest of the bombing of the El Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza.  

ORGANISE A
FUNDRAISING EVENT

Event organised by Jacque Lauritsen in Denmark

When The Freedom Theatre was raided and destroyed in December, groups worldwide organised fundraising events so that the venue could replace its equipment.  Both for The Freedom Theatre and other cultural venues this financial support is crucial as there is no way otherwise to build back after attacks, it also helps inform audiences what has happened.

JOIN A FRIENDSHIP GROUP
OR FORM YOUR OWN

French Friends Of The Freedom Theatre

The Freedom Theatre has friendship groups in France, USA and Sweden who are crucial to supporting the theatre from fundraising to advocacy to tours. Join a friendship group or create your own

JOIN A COALITION AGAINST 
SCHOLASTICIDE

SCHOLOARS AGAINST THE WAR IN PALESTINE are a coalition of academics, researchers, scholars and students working to stop the destruction of schools, universities and places of learning and the killing of those who live there. 

READ TESTIMONIES FROM THE REVOLUTION'S PROMISE

The Revolution's Promise is a collection of testimonies from Palestinian artists under attack. They are available to read, perform and share in multiple languages at public events, protests, Universities and in your local community or groups. There is also a full-length script of 1hr, put together from some of the stories.

READ ALL THE TESTIMONIES >>

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE REVOLUTION'S PROMISE >>

Below are testimonies in English specific to artists in cultural venues that have been raided or destroyed.

AHMED TOBASI 

ATTACKS & IMPRISONMENTS AT THE FREEDOM THEATRE, 2023

Ahmed Tobasi, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, speaks of the recent attacks on cultural venue and its team as part of a long history of Israeli targeting of the theatre. 

BIOGRAPHY >>

RANIN ODEH

ON ATTACKS AT THE FREEDOM THEATRE & MURDER OF CHILD PARTICIPANTS, 2022 - 2024

Ranin Odeh, Child and Youth Co-ordinator at The Freedom Theatre, takes us through a year of attacks on the theatre. As three child participants are murder she continues to fight for the human and cultural rights of young people.

BIOGRAPHY >>

ALI ABU YASEEN 

BOMBING OF AL-MISHAL CULTURAL CENTRE, 2018

Ali Abu Yaseen, an actor, writer, and director, tells the story of the day Al-Mishal Cultural Centre was specifically targeted and bombed in 2018.

BIOGRAPHY >>

RANIA ELIAS

ON ATTACKS ON YABOUS CULTURAL CENTRE, 1995 - 2021 

Rania Elias tells on the challenges for Palestinians working in Jerusalem and the Israeli aggression towards Yabous and its staff, including her own detainment and interrogated. 

BIOGRAPHY >>

DESTRUCTION TO PALESTINIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE

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