2 May 2018

A History Of Money In Palestine: The Case Of The Jews Freezing And Pillaging Palestinians' Bank Accounts In 1948

IAK: On June 12, 1948, not yet a month after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine, the new government of the new state of Israel ordered all the commercial banks operating within its territory to freeze the accounts of all their Arab Palestinian customers and to stop all transactions on Arab accounts. The Israeli government gave the banks one month to comply with this order and threatened to revoke the banking licenses of all banks found to be in non-compliance with it. By December 1948 every bank operating in Israel had complied with the order, and thus, just six months after the termination of the Mandate for Palestine, all Arab Palestinians, many of whom were already refugees and scattered in camps throughout the world, had lost access to the money and financial assets which they had deposited for safekeeping in their bank accounts and safe-deposit boxes.
Sreemati Mitter, Ernest May Fellow at Harvard University, discusses this episode in Palestinian history, which has never before been written about, and uses it as a prism through which to explore how the fact of statelessness, which is generally thought of as political condition, directly affects the economic and monetary lives of ordinary people.

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