Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date



This paper discusses the historiography of the 1948 Israeli-Arab war specifically focusing on the work of the “New Historians”, a group of scholars who, beginning in the late 1980s, issued a revisionist history of the war using newly declassified archival documents. The paper’s main argument is that the New Historians largely replace the established nationalist historiography with a revised nationalist narrative rather than offering a narrative that positions itself away from nationalist ideology. Furthermore, the paper discusses the porous nature of the term new history as the New Historians do not represent any unified scholarly movement but simply share in their attempt to revise their predecessors, something common in historical study. The paper principally discusses the work of Benny Morris, Simha Flapan, and Ilan Pappé who each represent different streams within the New Historiography. In addition to evaluating the work of these three principal new historians, this paper also evaluates some of New History’s chief critics from the Zionist right and the Palestinian left. This paper’s discussion of New History illustrates the centrality of the 1948 war to the construction of national identity in Israel- Palestine and seeks to offer ways to write history that break from the current national constructions which continue to plague the region with violence.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Fellowship

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Lisa Trivedi and Shoshana Keller