Refugee Tales: 1948 Considered - A Historical Analysis of Israeli Attitudes Towards the Creation of Palestinian Refugees in 1948

Yale Israel Journal, 10, 12-26, 2006

15 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2017

Date Written: February 12, 2006

Abstract

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an intractable conflict that has lasted for about a century, while causing severe pain and anguish to the involved parties. Israelis and Palestinians have each formed a collective memory composed of a unique version of the conflict’s events as they perceive it. The major event of this conflict is the Palestinian refugee departure from Eretz Israel (Hebrew for Land of Israel, as the Jews refer to this territory in the pre-Israel period) and later from Israel, during the 1947-1949 War of Independence. The differences in Israeli and Palestinian collective memory focus, among others, on the causes of the refugees’ departure from their homes and settlements (hereafter, the “refugees’ issue”). Did they all leave willingly, or were some expelled by the Jewish, and later Israeli, security forces?

This paper examines the official Israeli collective memory regarding the refugees issue. It explores the perception of this issue in two main components of the official Israeli collective memory from the 1950s through the beginning of the current century. These two components are the publications of the Publications Agency at the Information Headquarters of the Israeli Ministry of Education and Israeli history and civic textbooks used throughout the Israeli national educational system.

This paper will discuss several aspects of this issue. First, the attitude of the Publications Agency — the main Israeli governmental source for the dissemination of information to the Israeli public — regarding the refugees issue is explored for the first time. Second, the manner in which the refugees’ issue has been described in Israeli history and civics textbooks is examined using two separate research studies. Integrating and analyzing the findings of these two studies will provide a clearer understanding of the position taken in Israeli textbooks regarding the refugees issue. The analysis of both the Publications Agency’s publications and the textbooks will allow a valid picture to emerge regarding the official Israeli collective memory regarding this issue and also offer some preliminary and partial insights regarding the theoretical nature of official collective memory in general.

Keywords: collective memory, official memory, narratives, historical narratives, Ministry of Education, textbooks, Palestinian refugees, Palestinian refugee problem

Suggested Citation

Nets-Zehngut, Rafi, Refugee Tales: 1948 Considered - A Historical Analysis of Israeli Attitudes Towards the Creation of Palestinian Refugees in 1948 (February 12, 2006). Yale Israel Journal, 10, 12-26, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2915810

Rafi Nets-Zehngut (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Israel

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