‘Museum on the Seam’: We are all terrorists

The Jerusalem-based ‘Museum on the Seam (peace)’, like the rest of the Jewish museums in the West, is part of Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) outlet to distort the Arab and Muslim history and keep the western guilty conscience alive about the Church’s persecution of its Jewish communities for centuries in the past – for the benefit of Jewish imperialism in the Middle East.

Some of the propaganda tactic applied in the ‘Museum on the Seam (coexistence)’ includes a verse from Book of Genesis (19:8), written in 26 different languages on a wall, in which prophet Abraham says to prophet Lot: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee.” Another one is screening conflicts from various places in the world, such as, Belfast, Sarajevo, Johannesburg and Berlin – to give the visitors a sort of consolation that terrorist acts being committed in all over the world, not just in Israel.

The German publisher with Nazi ties, George von Holtzbrinck (died 1983) family, donated $2 million to the Jerusalem Foundation to establish the Museum on the Seam, and every year it contributes $700,000 for its upkeep since it was opened in 2000.

The Museum is situated in a building constructed in 1932 by the Arab Christian Architect, Anton Baramki. It was designed by Andoni Baramki, then a young Palestinian architect who designed many of Jerusalem’s houses. In 1934 he built it and rented it to two Palestinian families who were forcibly expelled from the house in 1948. The Baramki family lived in a rented house nearby and, like hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, were forced to flee their homes in search of temporary safety during the violent spring of 1948. Denied return to their home, the Baramki family lived as refugees in Gaza before moving to the village of Birzeit, north of Ramallah, in 1953. Following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967, all members of the Baramki family with the exception of son Gabi—his parents, brother and sister- managed to obtain Jerusalem ID cards and live in East Jerusalem. Dr. Gabi Baramki, who was 18 when his family fled Jerusalem in 1948. He is a former vice president of Birzeit University, and lives in Ramallah.

After 1967, when the family was able to cross over to the west side of the city, Gabi’s father, Andoni, fought for his right to his house. He went to the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property, presented the deeds to his house and his identification documents. According to Gabi, “My father, a 6’4″ tall man, stood in front of the Custodian and told him: ‘I’m Andoni Baramki and I want to return to my house.’ The Custodian looked back at him and replied: ‘you are absent.'” The family then turned to the court but received no justice there, either. “You will get your house when there is peace,” the judge told Gabi’s father. People often told Gabi that his father, a very well-known figure in Jerusalem, “stood in front of the house for hours looking at it the way Romeo used to look at Juliet.” Andoni Baramki was never allowed to set foot inside his house again. He died in 1972.

About 10 years after losing the court case, Gabi recalled, the municipality turned their house into a museum, called the Museum for Understanding. He then received a visit from two people representing the museum, seeking his approval of the project. “This means that you recognize that this property belongs to us,” he told them, adding: “I don’t have a problem at all in donating this house to be a museum but it will be our choice, our decision, not yours. So you tell us that we own the house and ask us what we want to do with it, and if you propose something that we accept, then I will do it.”

The museum representatives never returned and, apart from his mother, who was granted access to the house in 1998 for the shooting of a documentary film, Gabi, his brother and sister were not allowed into the so-called Museum of Understanding. Like their father, they could only stand outside it. The house was occupied by the Museum for Understanding until 1999, Gabi said, when it became the Museum on the Seam. “First, the municipality got the house from the Custodian of Absentee Property and transferred it to the Jerusalem Foundation,” he explained. “They established the museum with the funding of a German supporter.” This was yet another violation of international law, which stipulates that an occupying power is not permitted to change the status of the property, land or people it occupies.

When the Museum on the Seam opened, Gabi allegedly was invited to the opening. “They said they tried to get in touch with us to invite us to the opening,” he said, “and tried to put the blame on me for not attending. I was in Montreal at the time, and I told them that even if I had received an invitation I wouldn’t have attended the opening. It’s theft in daylight and they had the audacity to invite me to attend to legitimize the illegitimate.”

Gabi did have the chance to enter the family house after 2000, with a German journalist who was working on a feature story about the house. When the receptionist asked him to pay the entry fee Gabi refused, saying that one doesn’t pay to enter his own house. The receptionist consulted with the management and he was allowed in without paying.

“In Israel “art,” “education” and “culture” go hand in hand with the Zionist mission of eliminating Palestinian existence and history in Palestine. While the Israeli military handles the physical erasure of the Palestinian presence, education, art and culture complete the mission by erasing what Palestinian traces remain, thereby contributing to the reconstruction of knowledge and aesthetics to fit the Zionist myth: that no Palestinians ever were here. Art and culture reshape the space, appropriate Palestinian property and heritage, and further consolidate the physical dispossession via an ostensibly pacifistic and “green” process. Hummus and falafel became Israel’s national foods. Ruins of Palestinian villages are camouflaged with artificial forests, Palestinian homes house “leftist” Israeli artists in such “artists’ villages” as Ein Hod, a Palestinian village north of Haifa, and Mamilla, Jerusalem’s ancient Muslim cemetery and holy site believed to date back to the 7th century, is being destroyed to construct the so-called Museum of Tolerance in West Jerusalem,” wrote Awatef Sheikh.

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