Israel’s National Library saves Palestinian history

A poster from 1929 advertises the Egyptian play “The Young Eagle” playing in Haifa

An old advertisement poster printed on brittle green paper beckons Palestinians in Jerusalem to buy Al-Jamal cigarettes, made in Nablus.

“Smoke the products of this company and sense the Arab aroma and flavor untarnished by Zionism,” reads the ad. “By doing so, you will safeguard your revolution and prove that you respect the martyrs. You will be honored and respected by the foreigners.”

The eye-opening artifact, which offers insight into the political climate of the land some 80 years ago, is one of 600 British Mandate-period posters and announcements, mostly from the 1920s and ’30s, recently scanned and digitized by Israel’s National Library in Jerusalem. Paid for by the Arcadia Fund, the project is part of a massive undertaking by the library to make 150,000 mundane historic documents, known professionally as ephemera, available to the general public online…