On May 25, the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem hosted a day-long conference under the title. “To Whom Does the Past Belong? Archive and Society in Israel.” Three historians involved with the event — On Barak, Liat Kozma, and Avner Wishnitzer — shared their thoughts with the editors of The Nakba Files.
Mezna Qato: In recent months, Israeli and Middle East Studies historians, particularly those outside Israel, have responded with indignation, frustration, and general discontent, at the Israel State Archive’s plans to restrict access to their records in the name of “digitisation.” Palestinian historians and archivists, however, have pointed out that this access was never afforded to Palestinians to begin with.
Shira Robinson: The erosion of the already deeply limited access to Israel’s archival record has been at least a decade in the making, following a period of relative openness in the 1990s.
Haneen Naamneh: The impasses of liberal legalism, as have been experienced by the Palestinians since the Nakba, can be critiqued by utilizing law in constructing a counter-archive to the one produced by Israeli legalism.
This week, The Nakba Files will feature a series of posts on the theme of the archives. We hope to expand the discussion on archives in Israel, which has tended to emphasize abstract liberal values such as freedom of information or the public’s right to know. It is also a discussion that has not included many Palestinian voices.