Israeli historian Shay Hazkani has said that the Israel State Archive’s refusal to release written material looted from the Palestinians on the pretext that this would “undermine national security” is actually “cover for a completely different fear”. He believes that the tens of thousands of documents looted by Israel during the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population in 1947/48 will, if made available, completely undermine the Zionist narrative about the founding of the occupation state.
Writing in Haaretz, the associate professor of Jewish Studies also described the impossible hurdles he has had to jump through to obtain access to tens of thousands of pages of yet to be declassified Arabic documents looted by Israel.
One of the many false claims spread by Israel’s founders was that the Palestinians wanted to “throw the Jews into the sea.” Hazkani has found no calls for murdering Jews just because they were Jews in either Arab propaganda or the educational material aimed at Palestinians and Arab fighters in 1948.
“Judging by the documents I collected for my latest book, the claims about an Arab plan to ‘throw the Jews into the sea’ are actually rooted in official Zionist propaganda,” he explained. “This propaganda began during the [Nakba], perhaps to encourage Jewish fighters to leave as few Palestinians as possible in the areas that would become part of Israel.” A comparison of Arab and Jewish propaganda issued in 1948 revealed that the propaganda of the Israeli army and its precursor, the Haganah, was much more violent.
Hazkani was only granted permission to view documents five years after he had sought permission to examine several files that were looted from Palestinian institutions during the fighting that took place in the wake of Israel’s creation and whose existence had been concealed. Nevertheless, full details of the information that would reveal what Palestinian intentions were, including those of the much-maligned Mufti of Jerusalem Amin Al-Husseini, remain classified until 2040. While Al-Husseini’s correspondence with senior Nazi officials was made available, the official policy and motives of the leader of the Palestinian national movement during World War Two will remain classified for another two decades.
“There are not and cannot be any state secrets in Arabic documents written by Palestinians, such as their plans for an independent Palestinian state or documents from an orphanage in Jaffa,” argued Hazkani. Indeed, he said that the biggest secret is the very existence of these documents, which are a memorial to a destroyed Palestinian civilisation. The reason why they remain a “secret” and why Israeli officials responsible for declassifying the documents want to keep them locked away is because they might undermine the official Zionist narrative and raise doubts among people willing to examine history with a critical eye.