The recognition stops then – almost a millennium ago. The site, called Beit Guvrin in the Israeli documents, is better known to Palestinians as the village of Beit Jibrin, whose inhabitants farmed the land, went to the mosque, built schools and clinics, ran a regular rural market and left the marks of their presence – both sacred and everyday – as an integral part of the site.
The people of Beit Jibrin, however, were expelled by Zionist forces in 1948. Many of them and their descendants now live in the refugee camps of al-Azzeh and Fawwar, near Bethlehem. Indeed, al-Azzeh camp is also known locally as Beit Jibrin.
Now De-colonizer, an art and research project, is demanding that UNESCO, the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural organization, acknowledge the full scope of Palestinian history that can be found in Beit Jibrin.
De-Colonizer was founded by Eitan Bronstein, formerly of Zochrot, a group that alerts the Israeli public to abuses of Palestinian rights.