Efforts to suppress Palestinian history defeated

Jan 19, 2024
Pharaoh Amnhotep II, 1400 BC, statue made of granite. Image: iStock

From the first days in their Jewish day schools and youth organisations, young Jews are drilled with the lie that Palestine was ‘a land without people for a people without a land’. From its inception, the Zionist movement has sought to suppress Palestinian history and narratives. Whenever there are exhibitions or events or publications featuring Palestinian artists, writers or speakers, there is a huge geschrei from the usual suspects in the Zionist propaganda machine, protesting at this example of ‘antisemitism’.

The latest example was against the current exhibition at the Australian Museum, Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs. Ramses reigned in the 13th Century BCE. One part of the exhibition included the text: ‘In his teens, Ramses fought alongside [his father] Seti in Libya and Palestine.’

The obscure far right-wing Australian Jewish Association (AJA) sought to pressure the Museum to remove the reference to Palestine in relation to the reign of Ramses. They claimed that the name ‘Palestine’ ‘wasn’t invented until thousands of years later’. The Museum initially bowed to this pressure by changing the reference to read ‘what is today known as Palestine’. This didn’t address the issue of historical accuracy at all.

The Australian Advocacy Network (APAN), the Australian Friends of Palestine (AFOPA) in Adelaide and the Palestine Justice movement Sydney (PJMS) led a vigorous campaign calling on the Museum to resist the AJA pressure to deny well-established academic records of historical Palestine and retain the original identification of Palestine during the relevant historical period.

Paul Heywood-Smith, a regular contributor to Pearls & Irritations, wrote an article in P&I, 29 December 2023, ‘Palestine’: the name the Australian Jewish Association wants expunged. There, he traced the history of the consistent use of the name Palestine in various forms in the area back to Ramses’ time as ‘Peleset’.

After exposing the museum’s interaction with the AJA, APAN called for its members and supporters to act in protest to the Museum’s position which violates historical accuracy for political reasons. On 31 December 2023, the PJMS responded to APAN’s calls by initiating a campaign calling on its network to write to the Museum, resulting in 1,133 emails sent.

Soon after, on 4 January 2024, the Museum issued a statement confirming that it ‘had no plans to modify the exhibition’s textual content ‘, meaning the original text would stand.

So, people power succeeded in defeating the desperate efforts of the Zionist Lobby to falsify history and ‘suppress Palestinian identification with the country…for political purposes.’ (Heywood-Smith, P&I, 29 Dec 23).

Given the relentless efforts of the Zionist Lobby to have references to Palestine removed or discredited as ‘antisemitic’, the efforts of the Palestine solidarity movement, and all those who care about justice and historical truth, are equally relentless.

In the meantime, we can celebrate this modest victory, confident that the Palestinian community and its supporters in Australia are very capable of standing up to the Zionist lobby’s frantic, impotent campaigns to erase their identity and history.


You might also be interested to read:

‘Palestine’ – The name the Australian Jewish Association wants expunged

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