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University of Haifa
Pro-Palestinian Tamar Katriel, Department of Communications, guilty of Swamp Denial

...In a recent study, Tamar Katriel, an Israeli professor charted both sorts of museums. She suggests that these two types of museums, working together, provide evidence of how particular stories are cultivated in museums to provide “important clues to the ideological motivations and cultural images that inform processes of identity formation and social legitimation”. [5] Katriel found that many museums had actively ignored recent historical discoveries that debunked popular ideologies. For instance, there is a famous Zionist story about conquering the swamps in the Jezreal valley, and the story is celebrated as proof of Zionists conquering and making productive inhospitable land. Scientists, however, have recently determined that no such swamps ever existed. These
particular stories, among many others that Israeli historians have recently investigated were found to be simply untrue. Katriel, when she confronted museum curators and tour guides with these facts found that, while they were familiar with such evidence, they rejected them as “academic” and not of “the people”. The pioneers that came to Palestine to create a “new society” in hostile and unproductive land is one of the most important and powerful myths that grounds the Israeli national narrative. Integral to these stories of pioneers conquering an inhospitable nature is the belief that Arabs, in contrast, were unable to make the land
productive. The pioneering museums stress this vision of remaking the land where the Arabs couldn’t as another justification of rightful ownership...

 ...For Israel, Palestinians played no special role in the birth of the
nation, or in the success of it. Rather they have been seen as the reason that the nation has not been more successful. In Israel, Palestinians are simply the remainders of an ancient and failed culture. Further, they are usually referred to only in relation to Zionists and Jewish settlers, as a way of creating an us vs. them dichotomy. As Katriel says: in the heritage museums, “museumified Palestinian peasants typically appear in the guise of anthropology’s “timeless other”, like ancient forefather figures whose “primitive” tools are symbolically appropriated by [being] given biblical names and having Jewish pioneering tales associated with them”. [9]...




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