June 1948: Israeli soldiers advance in an affluent Arab neighborhood, now almost deserted, in western Jerusalem. The soldiers are followed by several librarians from the national library. Sporadic gunfire is heard. The men cling against the walls as they arrive in a street lined with empty, affluent houses, their occupants having left in haste. Breaking into house after house, the librarians “collect” entire libraries into boxes that are loaded onto trucks. Similar scenes are repeated throughout the Arab neighborhoods of western Jerusalem, and later on in Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth and elsewhere. In total, 70,000 Palestinian books were “collected” in this manner.
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