Gateway to Understanding

Welcome to the Promised Land Museum

An Introduction to the Jewish Perspective of the Palestinian Experience

Who We Are

The Promised Land Museum, the Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience, is an online museum founded to provide a Jewish perspective on both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Palestinian experience. The Jewish perspective is one rooted in Jewish values: to treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated.

How You Can Learn

We have arranged materials and information about the Israeli-Arab conflict into four major themes/exhibit halls, where you will find virtual and interactive exhibits.  

We invite you to explore the four exhibit halls in our online museum to learn about all sides of the conflict. And at the same time, you can gain an understanding of the Jewish perspective on the Palestinian experience: 

  1. Peaceful Palestine: The history of people living on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea—before Israel became a state
  2. Creation of State: What happened in the years leading up to 1948, when Israel became a state
  3. Terror + Conflicts: A history of terror attacks from both  Jewish and non-Jewish groups after the 1900s
  4. Civil Rights: Civil rights violations against Palestinian people and the historical Jewish commitment to fighting persecution 

Exhibits are further enhanced through our free quarterly online e-magazine, Perspectives.  You are also welcome to explore the online museum’s “back room gallery” of exhibits that are not currently on display in the four main exhibit areas.

Our goal is to increase awareness to a conflict that seems to have no resolution by putting balanced information in your hands. 

Why It Matters

The Jewish perspective could be thought of as one that has been forged by centuries of oppression. This oppression reached an apex with the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.  The lesson of the Holocaust is not just that it is wrong to mistreat Jews. The lesson is that it is wrong to mistreat any people—regardless of faith, heritage, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental challenge, or any other difference.

We hope the primary sources throughout this online museum will provide a perspective on the Palestinian experience grounded in the Jewish values of truth, justice, and peace—and that this perspective will help provide a clear path to peace for what has appeared to be an intractable conflict.

What is a “Jewish Perspective”?

A “Jewish Perspective” is one rooted in Jewish values, to treat our neighbor as we would want to be treated. This is the central line of the Torah.

However, this perspective is also forged by centuries of oppression. For that reason, a major Jewish value is the dedication to standing against injustice everywhere. Professor and author Howard Sachar writes that “Jews made up at least 30 percent of the white volunteers who rode freedom buses to the South.” To put that in perspective, Jews only made up less than three percent of the general population. Jewish people also made up over 50 percent of the white people who challenged Jim Crow Laws in Mississippi. Outside of the United States, Jews also participated in the South African anti-apartheid movement. Jewish people have been historically committed to supporting civil rights for all people. 

This is partly because Jewish persecution dates back to as early as the fifth century B.C.E. in Persia. In the Biblical account of the Purim story (the Book of Esther), all Jewish people in the kingdom were targeted because one Jewish official refused to bow down to the top aide of King Haman. A pattern of institutionalized discrimination emerged in the Middle Ages in Europe, followed by a “modern antisemitism” coined by Wilhelm Marr in 1873.

Ebensee Concentration Camp Prisoners, 1945

Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hope for many who hold the region as their “Holy Land” (the area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River) as well as for those who have no religious attachment to the conflict. There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the Holy Land for thousands of years. 

Why do Jews feel connected to Israel?

The Hebrew Bible claims that a United Israelite monarchy existed starting in the 10th century BCE. The first appearance of the name “Israel” in the non-Biblical historic record is the Egyptian Merneptah Stele,1200 BCE. Jewish ties to the Holy Land should not be doubted.

The Shema, a Jewish prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services, literally translates to “Hear, O Israel,” in Hebrew. “Next year in Jerusalem,” is a phrase that is often sung at the end of the Passover Seder and at the end of the Ne’ila service on Yom Kippur.

Traditionally, saying “next year in Jerusalem” was just a wish for Jews—because there was no such thing as a Jewish Jerusalem or a Jewish state. The Seder closed with the wish for all Jews to be able to return to the homeland, just as they did after leaving Egypt, where they were enslaved for 430 years.

Was Israel empty when Jews arrived before 1948?

Palestinian Jews had been living alongside Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims for centuries. Is it possible that Jews returned to a land of empty swamps and deserts if hundreds of thousand Palestinian men, women, and children were made refugees in the founding of the modern Israeli state? 

Palestinian Woman During Nakba, 1948

MYTHS DEBUNKED

If Palestinian Christians and Muslims had wanted to kill off the Palestinian Jewish minority, how was it that Palestinian Jews lived in Palestine alongside those Christians and Muslims for thousands of years?

When Israel was created, Christian and Muslim Palestinian families didn’t simply leave their homes to facilitate the killing of Jews. This does not make sense. Christian and Muslim Palestinian families had been living alongside Palestinian Jewish families for centuries.

A Palestinian Jewish presence remained in Palestine even though the great, great majority of people living there were Muslims and Christians.

Does the fact that peaceful Palestinian men, women, and children were made refugees from their homes and villages align with biblical values of peace, hope, and harmony?

These are questions we hope to answer together. We hope to put the primary sources in your hands, so you can consider the history, current events, and culture that form a seemingly unsolvable conflict.

The Holy Land was not empty when Jews arrived before the creation of the State of Israel. Palestinian families were forced from their homes. This is clear.

How to Do Your Part

We welcome you to take part in the conversation surrounding the Palestinians and their right to a peaceful existence with thoughtful input and engagement. 

  • Browse our museum.  If you have an interest in the Holy Land, you may enjoy learning more about it here.  Even those most familiar with the history of modern Israel may find items they were not aware of.
  • Follow us on social media to see when new historical items and voices as they are added to the museum website.
  • Share our website and social media posts, so that more people can gain a better understanding of the context of the modern conflict. Subscribe to our quarterly online e-magazine, Perspectives.
  • Start a conversation with your family, friends, and neighbors to raise awareness of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • Write your local congressional leaders to let them know what they can do to support a peaceful end to the conflict.
  • Host an exhibit where you can receive the materials required to drive awareness to the conflict. You can download our Exhibitor Guide here. 
  • Invite Promised Land Museum curator Steve Feldman to speak at your in-person or virtual event.

Interested in learning more about the history of Israel and Palestine?

We hope the historical documents and traveling exhibits offered by our online museum will provide a Jewish perspective on the Palestinian experience —a perspective grounded in Jewish values of truth, justice and peace— and that this perspective will help provide a clear path to peace.

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We hope the historical documents and traveling exhibits offered by our online museum will provide a Jewish perspective on the Palestinian experience —a perspective grounded in Jewish values of truth, justice and peace— and that this perspective will help provide a clear path to peace.

Next Gallery:

PEACEFUL PALESTINE

Historical and first-hand accounts of who the Palestinian people are do not fit the stereotype seen in the media.