I came across this eleven page PDF file while expressing my huge disfavor with the concept of a Palestinian State. My disfavor for a Palestine was entitled “No Palestinians – No Palestinian State”. The PDF file is an effort to provide a balanced report between Israel’s Old Historians and the nation’s New Historians.
The Israeli government has placed their stamp of approval on the Old Historians version of Israel’s founding. Israel’s New Historians tend to stigmatize Israel’s founding history leading to the Palestinian liars to cry with a, “We told you so!”
Now it is more than just my opinion that Palestinian media and historians either twist the facts or downright fabricate the history to fit their false narrative about the existence of Arabs who like to call themselves Palestinians. BECAUSE of this I fall on the side of the critics of the New Historians. To view or read what I am talking about take a trip over Palestinian Media Watch which documents the education and media that flow from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Below is an excerpted version of the PDF file which seems to have been written for the purpose of some kind of scholastic from James Island Charter High School.
HISTORIOGRAPHY OF THE ARAB ISRAELI CONFLICT
Cache Link to Document: http://tinyurl.com/o392z77
Download Link to PDF: http://jichs.ccsdschools.com/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=13862263
What is historiography?
Historiography is the study of the history and methodology of the discipline of history. The term historiography also denotes a body of historical work on a specialized topic. Scholars discuss historiography topically – such as the “historiography of Catholicism,” the “historiography of early Islam,” or the “historiography of China” – as well as specific approaches and genres, such as political history and social history. Beginning in the nineteenth century, at the ascent of academic history, a corpus of historiography literature developed.
Furay and Salevouris (1988) define historiography as “the study of the way history has been and is written — the history of historical writing… When you study ‘historiography’ you do not study the events of the past directly, but the changing interpretations of those events in the works of individual historians.”
Who are the New Historians?
The New Historians are a loosely-defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional assumptions about Israeli history, including its role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace. The term was coined in 1988 by one of the leading New Historians, Benny Morris.
Much of the primary source material used by the group comes from Israeli government papers declassified forty years after the founding of Israel. Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev, Hillel Cohen and (retrospectively) Simha Flapan are counted among the “new historians.” Many of their conclusions have been incorporated into the political ideology of post-Zionists. The political views of the group vary, as do the periods of Israeli history in which they specialize.
What are the main debates?
· Avi Shlaim described the New Historian’s differences from the “official history” in the following terms, however it should be noted that Israel has no official history and that the new historians do not represent a unified body of thought. In addition Israeli understanding of national history has changed over the years, partially incorporating the ideas of the new historians. According to Shlaim:
· The official version said that Britain tried to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state; the New Historians claimed that it tried to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state
· The official version said that the Palestinians fled their homes of their own free will; the New Historians said that the refugees were chased out or expelled
· The official version said that the balance of power was in favour of the Arabs; the New Historians said that Israel had the advantage both in manpower and in arms
· The official version said that the Arabs had a coordinated plan to destroy Israel; the New Historians said that the Arabs were divided
· The official version said that Arab intransigence prevented peace; the New Historians said that Israel is primarily to blame for the dead end.
· Pappé suggests that the Zionist leaders aimed to displace most Palestinian Arabs; Morris sees the displacement happening in the heat of war. According to the New Historians, Israel and Arab countries each have their share of responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian plight.
The writings of the New Historians have come under repeated criticism, both from traditional Israeli historians who accuse them of fabricating Zionist misdeeds and from Arab or pro-Arab writers who accuse them of whitewashing the truth about Zionist misbehaviour. They are accused of ignoring four critical questions: Who started the war? What were their intentions? Who was forced to mount a defence? What were Israel’s casualties?
Early in 2002, the most famous of the new historians, Benny Morris, publicly reversed some of his personal political positions, though he has not withdrawn any of his historical writings.
Anita Shapira offers the following criticism:
One of the more serious charges raised against the “new historians” concerned their sparse use of Arab sources. In a preemptive move, [Avi] Shlaim states at the outset of his new book that his focus is on Israeli politics and the Israeli role in relations with the Arab world—and thus he has no need of Arab documents. [Benny] Morris claims that he is able to extrapolate the Arab positions from the Israeli documentation. Both authors make only meager use of original Arab sources, and most such references cited are in English translation… To write the history of relations between Israel and the Arab world almost exclusively on the basis of Israeli documentation results in obvious distortions. Every Israeli contingency plan, every flicker of a far-fetched idea expressed by David Ben-Gurion and other Israeli planners, finds its way into history as conclusive evidence for the Zionist state’s plans for expansion. What we know about Nasser’s schemes regarding Israel, by contrast, derives solely from secondary and tertiary sources.
Israeli historian Yoav Gelber criticized New Historians in an interview, saying that aside from Benny Morris, they did not contribute to the research of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War in any way. He did however note that they contributed to the public discourse about the war.
Some commentators have argued that the historiography of the New Historians has both drawn inspiration from, and lent impetus to, a movement known as post-Zionism. Generally the term “post-Zionist” is self-identified by Jewish Israelis who are critical of the Zionist enterprise and are seen by Zionists as undermining the Israeli national ethos. Post-Zionists differ from Zionists on many important details, such as the status of the law of return and other sensitive issues. Post-Zionists view the Palestinian dispossession as central to the creation of the state of Israel.
Zionists and old Historians argue that Post-Zionism is a total denial of the Zionist project and endangers the very legitimacy and existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation state, by viewing Zionism as a colonial phenomenon and not as a national movement. Shlomo Avineri in “Post-Zionism doesn’t exist” printed in Ha’aretz has said that “post-Zionists are simply anti-Zionists of the old sort.”
Benny Morris and his Critique of the Old Historians
· The “Old Historians” lived through 1948 as highly committed adult participants in the epic, glorious rebirth of the Jewish commonwealth. They were unable to separate their lives from this historical event, unable to regard impartially and objectively the facts and processes that they later wrote about.
· The “Old Historians” have written largely on the basis of interviews and memoirs and at best made use of select batches of documents, many of them censored.
· Benny Morris has been critical of the old Historians, describing them, by and large, as not really historians, who did not produce real history: “In reality there were chroniclers and often apologetic”, and refers to those who produced it as “less candid”, “deceitful” and “misleading”.
On a few occasions there have been heated public debates between the New Historians and their detractors. The most notable:
Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim versus Shabtai Teveth. Teveth is best known as a biographer of David Ben-Gurion. Teveth: Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 26 (1990) 214–249; Morris: 1948 and After; Teveth: Commentary; Morris and Shlaim: Tikkun.
Benny Morris versus Norman Finkelstein and Nur Masalha. This took place in three articles in the Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 21, No. 1, Autumn, 1991. While acknowledging that Morris had brought to light a vast quantity of previously unknown archival material, Finkelstein and Masalha accused Morris of presenting the evidence with a pro-Zionist spin. Finkelstein wrote “Morris has substituted a new myth, one of the “happy medium” for the old. … [T]he evidence that Morris adduces does not support his temperate conclusions. …[S]pecifically, Morris’s central thesis that the Arab refugee problem was “born of war, not by design” is belied by his own evidence which shows that Palestine’s Arabs were expelled systematically and with premeditation.” Masalha accused Morris of treating the issue as “a debate amongst Zionists which has little to do with the Palestinians themselves“, and of ignoring the long history that the idea of “transfer” (removal of the Palestinians) had among Zionist leaders. In his response, Morris accused Finkelstein and Masalha of “outworn preconceptions and prejudices” and reiterated his support for a multifaceted explanation for the Arab flight.
Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappé versus Efraim Karsh
Efraim Karsh of King’s College, London, is a founding editor of Israel Affairs. Starting with an article in the magazine Middle East Quarterly, Karsh alleged that the new historians “systematically distort the archival evidence to invent an Israeli history in an image of their own making”. Karsh also provides a list of examples where, he claims, the new historians “truncated, twisted, and distorted” primary documents. Shlaim’s reply defended his analysis of the Zionist-Hashemite negotiations prior to 1948. Morris declined immediate reply, accusing Karsh of a “mélange of distortions, half-truths, and plain lies”, but published a lengthy rebuttal in the Winter 1998 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies. Morris replied to many of Karsh’s detailed accusations, but also returned Karsh’s personal invective, going so far as to compare Karsh’s work to that of Holocaust deniers. Karsh also published a review on an article of Morris, charging him with “deep-rooted and pervasive distortions”.
Teddy Katz versus Alexandroni Brigade: In 1998, Teddy Katz interviewed and taped Israeli and Palestinian witnesses to events at Tantura in 1948 and wrote a master’s thesis at Haifa University claiming that the Alexandroni Brigade committed a massacre in the Arab village of Tantura during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The veterans of the brigade sued Katz for libel. During the court hearing Katz conceded by issuing a statement retracting his own work. He then tried to retract his retraction, but the court disallowed it and ruled against him. He appealed to the Supreme Court but it declined to intervene. Meanwhile a committee at Haifa University claimed to have found serious problems with the thesis, including “quotations” that were contradicted by Katz’s taped records of interview. The university suspended his degree and asked him to resubmit his thesis. The new thesis was given a “second-class” pass. The Tantura debate remains heated, with Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, now teaching at the University of Exeter, continuing to support allegations of a massacre.
Arab Revolt: http://www.meforum.org/1413/one-palestine-complete
British Mandate: http://www.meforum.org/1413/one-palestine-complete
Suez Crisis: http://un_org.tripod.com/suez/historiography.htm
Creation of the state of Israel and the war of Independence: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~ssfc0005/The%20War%20of%20the%20Israeli%20Historians.html
David Ben Gurion: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/09/books/the-new-new-historians.html
Gamal Abdel Nasser: http://traubman.igc.org/history.htm
Six Day War:
Yom Kippur War: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=z58nmWqS94MC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=yom+kippur+war+historiography&source=bl&ots=pr3ZdZXvmo&sig=2NFv6g_wm790SwrDRuLK3iH5KSQ&hl=en&ei=rS_VTIarNdjPjAew77XdCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Useful Journals/Further Reading
· ‘Rewriting History’ by E. Karsh: http://www.meforum.org/302/rewriting-israels-history
· ‘The Unbearable Lightness of My Critics’ by E. Karsh: http://www.meforum.org/207/the-unbearable-lightness-of-my-critics
· ‘Benny Morris’ Reign of Error’ by E. Karsh: http://www.meforum.org/711/benny-morriss-reign-of-error-revisited
· ‘Post Zionism and Israeli Politics’ by L. Livnat: http://www.meforum.org/185/post-zionism-and-israeli-politics
· ‘Israeli Historical Revisionism from Left to Right; book review’: http://www.meforum.org/1585/israeli-historical-revisionism-from-left-to-right
· ‘My Non-Zionist Narrative by I. Papper’ http://www.meforum.org/91/my-non-zionist-narrative
Further Reading from Google Books
Anita Shapira (New Historian Critic):
[Blog Editor: Just to be clear the above links are to a Google Book search of each author and not to a specific book.]
Extension of Further Reading: Historians and contribution to Historiography
Fifty Thinkers on History [Link to forms of access on Google Books]:
Taylor argued against the widespread belief that the outbreak of the war was the result of an intentional plan on the part of Hitler. He began his book with the statement that too many people have accepted uncritically what he called the “Nuremberg Thesis”, that the Second World War was the result of criminal conspiracy by a small gang comprising Hitler and his associates. He regarded the “Nuremberg Thesis” as too convenient for too many people and claimed that it shielded the blame for the war from the leaders of other states, let the German people avoid any responsibility for the war and created a situation where West Germany was a respectable Cold War ally against the Soviets.
Taylor’s thesis was that Hitler was not the demoniacal figure of popular imagination but in foreign affairs a normal German leader. Citing Fritz Fischer, he argued that the foreign policy of the Third Reich was the same as those of the Weimar Republic and the Second Reich. Moreover, in a partial break with his view of German history advocated in The Course of German History, he argued that Hitler was not just a normal German leader but also a normal Western leader. As a normal Western leader, Hitler was no better or worse than Stresemann, Chamberlain or Daladier. His argument was that Hitler wished to make Germany the strongest power in Europe but he did not want or plan war. The outbreak of war in 1939 was an unfortunate accident caused by mistakes on everyone’s part.
The Origins of the Second World War [various links]:
Hobsbawm has written extensively on many subjects as one of Britain’s most prominent historians. As a Marxist historiographer he has focused on analysis of the “dual revolution” (the political French revolution and the industrial British revolution). He sees their effect as a driving force behind the predominant trend towards liberal capitalism today.
Nations and Nationalism:
Edward Palmer Thompson was an English historian, writer, socialist and peace campaigner. He is probably best known today for his historical work on the British radical movements in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular The Making of the English Working Class (1963). Thompson was one of the principal intellectuals of the Communist Party in Great Britain. Although he left the party in 1956 over the Soviet invasion of Hungary, he nevertheless remained a “historian in the Marxist tradition,” calling for a rebellion against Stalinism as a prerequisite for the restoration of communists’ “confidence in our own revolutionary perspectives”. Thompson played a key role in the first New Left in Britain in the late 1950s. He was a vociferous left-wing socialist critic of the Labour governments of 1964–70 and 1974–79, and during the 1980s, he was the leading intellectual light of the movement against nuclear weapons in Europe.
The Making of the English Working Class:
Elton was a staunch admirer of Thatcher and Churchill. He was also a fierce critic of Marxist historians, who he argued were presenting seriously flawed interpretations of the past. In particular, Elton was opposed to the idea that the English Civil War was caused by socio-economic changes in the 16th and 17th centuries, arguing instead that it was due largely to the incompetence of the Stuart kings. Elton was also famous for his role in the Carr-Elton debate when he defended the nineteenth century interpretation of empirical, ‘scientific’ history most famously associated with Leopold von Ranke against Carr’s views. Elton wrote his 1967 book The Practice of History largely in response to E. H. Carr‘s 1961 book What is History?.
The Practice of History [various links]
Hugh Trevor Roper:
A notable thesis propagated by Trevor-Roper was the “general crisis of the 17th century.” He argued that the middle years of the 17th century in Western Europe saw a widespread break-down in politics, economics and society caused by a complex series of demographic, social, religious, economic and political problems. In this “general crisis,” various events, such as the English Civil War, the Fronde in France, the climax of the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, troubles in the Netherlands, and revolts against the Spanish Crown in Portugal, Naples and Catalonia, were all manifestations of the same problems. The most important causes of the “general crisis,” in Trevor-Roper’s opinion, were the conflicts between “Court” and “Country”; that is between the increasingly powerful centralizing, bureaucratic, sovereign princely states represented by the court, and the traditional, regional, land-based aristocracy and gentry representing the country. In addition, the intellectual and religious changes introduced by the Reformation and the Renaissance were important secondary causes of the “general crisis.”
The “general crisis” thesis generated much controversy between those, such as the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who believed in the thesis, but saw the problems of 17th-century Europe as being more social and economic in origin than Trevor-Roper would allow. A third fraction comprised those who simply denied there was any “general crisis,” such as the Dutch historian Ivo Schöffer, the Danish historian Niels Steengsgaard, and the Soviet historian A.D. Lublinskaya. Trevor-Roper’s “general crisis” thesis provoked much discussion, which led to experts in 17th century history such as Roland Mousnier, J. H. Elliott, Lawrence Stone, E. H. Kossmann, Eric Hobsbawm and J. H. Hexter all expressing themselves as to the pros and cons of the theory. At times, the discussion became quite heated; the Italian Marxist historian Rosario Villari, speaking of the work of Trevor-Roper and Mousnier, claimed that: “The hypothesis of imbalance between bureaucratic expansion and the needs of the state is too vague to be plausible, and rests on inflated rhetoric, typical of a certain type of political conservative, rather than on effective analysis.” Villari went on to accuse Trevor-Roper of downgrading the importance of what Villari called the English Revolution (the usual Marxist term for the English Civil War), and insisted that the “general crisis” was part of an idealistic Europe-wide revolutionary movement. Another Marxist critic of Trevor-Roper was the Soviet historian A. D. Lublinskaya, who attacked the concept of a conflict between “Court” and “Country” as fiction, and thus argued there was no “general crisis;” instead Lublinskaya maintained that the so-called “general crisis” was merely the normal workings of the emergence of capitalism.
In 1973, Trevor-Roper in the foreword to a book by John Röhl endorsed the view that Germany was largely responsible for the World War I Trevor-Roper wrote that, in his opinion, far too many British historians had allowed themselves to be persuaded of the theory that the outbreak of war in 1914 had been the fault of all the great powers. He went on to note that this theory had been promoted by the German government’s policy of selective publication of documents, aided and abetted by most German historians in a policy of “self-censorhsip [sic].” Finally, he praised Röhl for finding and publishing two previously secret documents that showed German responsibility for the war.
Edited by John R. Houk
In most cases text or links enclosed by brackets are by the Editor.