Filistin Biladi, April 1980. Monthly publication issued by Tokyo office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Unique Arab Diaspora Materials Saved for Future Scholars

Filastin Biladi, issued by the Tokyo office of the PLO in the late 1970s, illuminates the relations between the Japanese left and the Palestinian struggle.

The Middle East Materials Project (MEMP), based at CRL, continues to identify, reformat for preservation, and promote access to rare and distinctive documentation for researchers. In 2018 MEMP brought together Arabic literature from diaspora communities in several non-Arab countries, including the UK, Japan, the U.S., and Poland.

MEMP preserved on microfilm issues of the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, published in London by Palestinian expatriates and distributed in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and North America. The paper’s founder Abdel Bari Atwan (born in a refugee camp in Gaza Strip) served as editor-and-chief from its start in 1989 through 2013, the period captured on microfilm. The paper’s motto is “Daily, Political, Independent”; it is a vocal advocate for the cause of Palestinian rights.

MEMP also microfilmed the Japanese-language magazine Filastin Biladi, published by the Tokyo office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) between 1979 and 1983. The paper includes translated articles by Palestinian writers and original articles by Japanese leftist intellectuals. According to Guy Burak, Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies librarian at New York University, “Filastin Biladi will be of interest to scholars of the PLO’s international outreach, and the relations between the Japanese left and the Palestinian struggle.”

Other diaspora titles MEMP recently preserved are Awedis (2015–16) from Poland, and from the U.S. The Beirut Times (2013–15) and USA Turkish Times (2005–6), which was digitized. Since 1987 MEMP has acquired more than 100 newspaper titles in Arabic, Turkish, and English, including an extensive collection of Sudanese and Turkish papers. Besides Arab countries, MEMP addresses related geopolitical areas not covered by the other cooperative materials projects under the CRL administrative umbrella.

Jan 2019