Muhammad Issaf Nashashibi (1885-1948), well known as Issaf Nashashibi, was a scholar of literature and philosophy, an educator, and a writer. During the 1948 Nakba, Nasser Eddin Nashashibi, Issaf’s uncle, witnessed the looting of his uncle’s personal library by soldiers and librarians from the Jewish National Library and Hebrew University. Nashashibi’s books were among approximately 30,000 books stolen from the Jerusalem area, and almost 6,000 have ended up in the National Library classified as “AP” — “abandoned property.”
The Issaf Nashashibi Center for Culture and Literature, is situated in East Jerusalem in Nashashibi’s former mansion. The property became part of the Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi Institution, and in 1982 the writer and scholar Ishaq al-Husseini sought to establish it as a research center with a collection of thousands of manuscripts and hundreds of rare books. Though the library’s goal was to be a resource for scholars throughout Palestine, this was made impossible due restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The center’s activities were stymied, until the decision was made to move towards being a resource for cultural events and programming for residents of East Jerusalem. This was significant considering the great disparity of public resources for Palestinians in East Jerusalem (There are only 2 public libraries in East Jerusalem in comparison to 26 public libraries in West Jerusalem). Since 1997, the center has undergone renovations, updated its organizational systems, and started preservation work. It began hosting public events including poetry readings, art exhibitions, music, and lectures celebrating Arab heritage and culture.
For more about Issaf Nashashibi and the Center, see:
- The profile of the “Dar Issaf Nashashibi for Culture and Arts,” on the Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi Institution’s Cultural Projects page;
- The resource section of the Palestinian American Research Center (Archives and Libraries of Jerusalem);
- This Week in Palestine‘s “Personality of the Month,” June 2014. “Muhammad Issaf Nashashibi, 1885-1948.