the destruction of memory

“Soldiers and civilians are not the only casualties of war. Aggressors also target the physical monuments to an enemy’s existence and so attack their libraries, churches and schools. Robert Bevan reports on the destruction of memory.”

Robert Bevan in The New Statesman:

Screenhunter_1_1Two weeks ago in Anata, Jerusalem, a Palestinian stood contemplating the rubble of his family home in the winter rain. “Did my house kill anyone that they should do this to me?” he asked. The Jerusalem municipality has 1.5 million shekels left in its demolition budget – enough to level 70 Palestinian homes – and it needs to spend the money before the end of the year. Such demolitions are part of Israel’s campaign to create “facts on the ground”: the aim is to guarantee Jerusalem’s survival as the country’s “eternal and undivided capital”. Thousands of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, in Gaza and around Jerusalem have been destroyed in the face of international condemnation. Bulldozers have become a weapon of war.

Israel’s assault on Palestinian houses is not unique. In times of conflict, civilian homes are invariably singled out for attack. In recent decades, whole villages have been eradicated in various parts of the world, from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Rwanda and Darfur. But homes are not the only type of building that has been targeted. Countless libraries, museums, churches and monuments have also been destroyed, representing an incalculable loss to the world’s cultural patrimony.

More here.