The “Palestine Museum” in Istanbul is the first of its kind in Turkey and even in the world. The museum, which opened its doors last July, aims to keep Palestinian memory alive and present heritage to visitors.
According to Ibrahim Al-Ali, director of the Turkish Society for Solidarity with Palestine “Fidar,” the society established the museum to affirm “the justice of the Palestinian cause,” and to make Istanbul “a destination for tourists in the world,” a place to revive the memory of new generations and document Palestinian life in all its details.
The “Palestine Museum” was established on an area currently measuring 70 square meters, and “Vidar” hopes in the future to expand it and increase its holdings and contents, according to Ibrahim.
Documenting the Palestinian situation
The museum includes documents and photos documenting the Palestinian situation, and products that confirm the Palestinian people’s attachment to their land, as those in charge of it seek to refute allegations that Palestine was a “land without a people” before the Nakba.
The “Palestine Museum” also includes pictures and necessities of ordinary life, Arab clothes and sitting rooms, coffee cups and a kitchen corner, in addition to a bottle containing dirt from Palestine, and old Palestinian coins.
The visitor feels the scent of Palestinian history, as the museum’s organizers were keen to present visitors with a bright picture of the country they had not visited or known, through the clothes and supplies on display.
The Vidar Association was also keen to display some of the possessions that Palestinians took out during the first waves of displacement, carrying with them what they could, whether from those in Turkey or in neighboring countries, such as Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Speaking about the museum, the director of “Vidar,” Ibrahim Al-Ali, said that the idea “was launched in Istanbul during a discussion of the justice of the Palestinian issue and the injustice of the people who have been suffering for 75 years of occupation, preceded by the British Mandate and the violations that took place during it.”
Ibrahim added, “Zionism claimed that Palestine is a land without a people, and this false statement had to be refuted by highlighting Palestine’s historical, geographical, and cultural features. Palestine was prosperous in the economic, administrative, and practical aspects, and it had media, hospitals, and everything that is found in any country.” civilized”.
Ibrahim continued, “The saying that Palestine was empty and void was invented by the occupation to justify its occupation, oppression, and control of its land. From this museum was our message to the world; the message of Palestine from Istanbul, which is a destination for Muslim and Arab tourists, and from the free people of the world, that the Palestinian cause receives the necessary support and support to stand.” alongside the Palestinian people in their struggle against the occupation.”
Museum departments and collections
Regarding the preparation of the museum, its collectibles and its sections, Ibrahim Al-Ali said, “We worked to prepare the place in a small space, and we brought items to it, and we secured some of it from within Turkey, and from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan via shipping, and there were those who presented us with existing collectibles from the ancestors who carried them with them.” Time of displacement.
He added, “There is a historical stage, an introduction to Palestinian geography, and every Palestinian visitor can recognize his village. Many visitors felt nostalgic, and we exhumed the memory when the visitors entered and saw the museum’s holdings.”
A forward-looking painting for the future
Regarding the presence of a forward-looking painting for the future in the museum, Ibrahim said that the curators were keen to imagine “how the Palestinian breaks the separation wall, leading to the liberation of Al-Aqsa. There is a section of Palestinian art, literature and cinema, in which films are shown about the history of Palestine and its struggle, about the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and the Balfour Declaration, for example.” And information about the villages, all of which is introductory in Arabic and Turkish.”
The museum also highlights the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, who suffer from violations, and the museum contains a model that embodies solitary confinement in the occupation prisons, in which the prisoner is isolated not only for a day or two, as there are those who have been isolated for 5,000 days, meaning approximately 14 years, without being seen. The prisoner has something in it.
Regarding the challenges and prospects, Ibrahim Al-Ali stated, “The museum is rich in its contents, and space today is the biggest challenge. The area is about 70 square metres, and we aspire to have it later be 700 square metres, then 7,000 metres. We hope to have wider halls, and this will come later.” The important thing is that the idea was launched, the project began, and the message reaches everyone who visits the museum.”
Ibrahim says, “Although many Palestinians lived and passed through this stage, yet when they enter the place, they experience a stage of unearthing memory and nostalgia for the town and village in which their fathers and grandfathers were born. There is a new generation that comes to know Palestine from this place, and we are speaking in front of the children of the fourth generation.” Of the Palestinians (since the migration of 1948), and there was a bet on forgetting the generations, but when they came and saw the museum they knew Palestine, and when they saw the films, models and objects on display, they had questions, and we provided an explanation for them.”
Visitors to the museum are Arabs, Muslims, and members of all communities. Many of them said that the museum transported them to Palestine without them ever going there.
Ibrahim Al-Ali concluded by saying that the “Palestine Museum” is “the first of its kind in Turkey, and we hope that its idea will be repeated in other cities and in various countries of the world.”