Seized in Beirut

The Plundered Archives of the Palestinian Cinema Institution and Cultural Arts Section

in Anthropology of the Middle East
Author: Rona Sela 1
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  • 1 Tel Aviv University ronasela@netvision.net.il
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Abstract

One of the biggest acts of plunder by Israel was of a vast Palestinian film archive looted by Israeli military forces in Beirut in 1982. The films are managed under the repressive colonial control of the Israel Defense Forces Archive, which thus conceals many of them and information regarding their origin. This article documents my efforts to disclose the films and locate their institutions in Beirut, to chart their history, name their film-makers and open a discussion about returning them. It also provides a deeper understanding of colonial mechanisms of looting and truth production. I discuss the Third Palestine Cinema Movement and the various institutions that were part of the Palestinian revolution in the 1970s, with a focus on the Cultural Arts Section managed by Ismail Shammout.

Contributor Notes

Rona Sala is a curator and researcher of visual history and a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. Her research focuses on the visual historiography of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian photography, colonial Zionist/Israeli photography, colonial Zionist/Israeli archives, human rights violation, plunder and looting of Palestinian archives and their subjugation to repressive colonial mechanisms, and on constructing alternative postcolonial archives. She also researches the development of alternative visual practices connected to civil society systems, asking to replace the old Israeli official gatekeepers. She recently directed a film entitled Looted and Hidden: Palestinian Archives in Israel (2017). For more information, visit www.ronasela.com. E-mail: ronasela@netvision.net.il

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