In a landmark new project, the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) has made available online Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi’s immensely important work Before Their Diaspora: A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948 in its entirety for free. Not only that, but the IPS has gone to the trouble of fashioning an innovative new interactive website around the work.
You can watch Khalidi talk about his book and the new website in this video.
The book is great collection of photographs and historical documents of the Palestinian people from the late Ottoman period, up to the eve of the Nakba, the 1948 wave of ethnic cleansing that Israel used to establish itself. Everything is laid out in chronological order, with well researched captions, and contextual writings on the historical context of each period. The book is both an essential reference work and a useful introduction to the history.
The new interactive website has features useful even for those who own a physical copy. Photographs can be searched for according to location, era, subject and so forth.
Before Their Diaspora is hugely influential, and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen it referenced in footnotes in books about Palestine over the years.The book reclaims the Palestinians’ own history, and debunks the Zionist myth that the Palestinians were not a people before the rise of Zionism and the establishment of Israel.