In “Khazaen” … Palestine Humanitarian Archive before and after the Nakba | culture

Director of Khazaen Hatem al-Tahan says they are seeking to build an archive that is “an alternative to what was stolen during the occupation of the Palestinian Nakba or which followed the invasion of the Palestinian Research Center or the theft of family” archives from Palestinian homes. “

Ramallah – On June 17, 1942, Egyptian artist Muhammad Abdel Wahab published an advertisement in the Palestinian Defense newspaper for readers to suggest a name for his new movie “Forbidden Love” and to submit their proposals to the management of Al-Hamra Cinema. in Jaffa to send in back for a financial prize of £ 200. The name that the Egyptian artist adopted a few days before it was shown in cinemas.

That incident and others documented archive records kept by Musa Younis al-Husseini, then the youngest film director, who took office when he was just 25 years old, after losing his job after the British Mandate government shut down the newspaper in which he was. work.

In his time, filmmaking developed and his shares rose thanks to his efforts and contacts with Arab artists and poets, as he was eager to show the strongest and latest films and bring in the best artistic teams.

Details of the life of Al-Husseini and his family were followed by the Khazaen Initiative Foundation and researcher Fadi Asleh through Al-Husseini’s messages with poets and artists in the Arab world, and later through his letters to his brothers spread across various countries. wash. to the Nakba.

These letters reached Khazaen’s archive through the family’s granddaughter, Ghadeer Dajani, who tried to preserve what was left of them after her grandfather’s house in Salah El – Din Street in occupied Jerusalem was stolen and part of it documents have been lost.

The Khazaen Initiative – launched in 2016 – is a community archive documenting Arab human activity in various capitals, with an interest in Palestinian production, especially as a community archive documenting daily life and for each institution, association or family provides a special treasury that documents its activities, preserves its heritage and protects it from damage, and this archive It is the daily publications of documents, posters, brochures, advertisements and every piece of paper.

5 thousand documents

Al-Dajani told Al-Jazeera Net, “These documents were not a discovery for the Khazaen team, but for the family, as they contain details of their diaries and places that no longer exist, and they are events that are not limited to my mother’s family, but cross with all the Palestinian events of the Mandate, the Nakba, the setback and what followed. “

Al-Dajani’s archive consisted of more than 5,000 paper clips, and after they were archived by the “Khazaen” team, with the participation of the family, researcher Asleh was able to write the story of Musa Al-Husseini – one of the most successful Palestinian economists – through messages he received from various places in the world to Jerusalem, and later his letters to his sisters who remained in Jerusalem after the Nakba.

After documenting the archives of her mother’s family, al-Husayni, and discovering the importance of this archive, Dajani works to document the archives of her grandfather’s family to her father, especially in light of the threat to her grandfather’s house, Fouad al-Dajani, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. During the five years of Khazaen’s life, she was able to document thousands of documents.

These archives open their suitcases to researchers and interested parties, especially since they cover some aspects that have not been academically documented, says researcher Asila.

rare documentation

And the Abu Eid Family Archive was one of those archives containing documents from 1830 to 2017, including protest letters sent by the people of the village of Beitunia, west of Ramallah to the High Gate in Istanbul, in protest against the corruption. of the district director, Jerji Afandim Al-Homsi, who paid the money to win the elections. .

“This archive has provided us with documents dating back to the 19th century from farmers who demanded a change in the political leadership they govern, a rare document that is difficult to find in any other historical source,” Asla said. to Al Jazeera Just said.

This archive arrived at Khazaen through the family’s granddaughter Sarah Abu Eid, where Lama’a Abu Eid, her mother’s grandmother, kept it in her home all these years. After her death in 2017, she suggested to the family that it be held in “Khazan” and it was registered in the name of Hanan Abu Eid, Lama’a’s daughter.

Palestine - Aziza Nofal - Sarah Abu Eid with Khazaen founder Fadi Asleh at the initiative headquarters in occupied Jerusalem while archiving her family documents - Khazaen website on Twitter
Sarah Abu Eid, accompanied by the founder of “Khazaen” Fadi Asleh, at the initiative’s headquarters in occupied Jerusalem, while archiving her family’s documents (communication sites)

Sarah Abu Eid told Al Jazeera Net: “After the grandmother’s death, we found two boxes in the house where she lived that she kept with each piece of paper.”

These pieces are land and property bills, water and electricity bills, and invitations for joy, and part of them is an old archive that belonged to her father-in-law Abdullah Abu Saleh during the Ottoman period, in addition to his ownership of the land. which was confiscated behind the partition wall.

Abu Eid continues, “Some of the papers date back to 1909, including a letter to the head of the Baqa al-Gharbiyye Diwan about the salt trade that Abdullah Abu Eid did between Lydda and Ramle.”

This archive not only provided researchers with something new, but also encouraged Abu Eid to reconsider the importance of each document and preserve it as it was found. She continued: “It is important for every family to have an archive. to have safes. “

voluntary efforts

The Khazaen team is working voluntarily to achieve the goal of establishing a knowledge store documenting Palestinian social history, to turn it into a source of knowledge that supports the Palestinian narrative and the preservation of Palestinian memory, says Foundation Director Hatem Al-Tahan.

Al-Tahhan continues to Al-Jazeera Net, “We seek to build an alternative archive for the one who stole the occupation during the Palestinian Nakba or who followed the invasion of the Palestinian Research Center or the theft of family archives from Palestinian houses. “

Khazaen’s work does not depend on the collection of these documents, but rather uses it to produce knowledge content, as is the case with the “Ahmed Hussein Al-Khatib” collection, which contains 40 sheets of large pieces in its own was written. handwriting during his stay in the Acre Prison after being sentenced to death in 1938, and this sentence was not enforced thanks to a great effort by the lawyer which could reduce the sentence to life imprisonment.

The archive, which Khazaen reached after 80 years, did not indicate the fate of al-Khatib after the Nakba. The research team was able to reach one of his family members, and it was found that he left for Nakba in Lebanon and settled . in Baalbek.He only took his daughter Amina from Palestine.The rest of his children and his family lived in Palestine, and later Amina married in Ain al-Hilweh, while the father died in 1956 in Baalbek.

With the commemoration of the Nakba, Khazaen is active in publishing photographs and documents related to the Nakba about the displaced villages and the fighting that took place in Palestinian villages and towns.

Asleh says: “These archives document the pre-Nakba period, and cover the gaps that researchers have not addressed before. All we know about the Nakba is that 850,000 Palestinians were displaced from their land, but these extracts provide the human story of these refugees to. “

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