Controversies of Historical Narratives of Conflicts: The Israeli Case of the Palestinian Refugee Problem
Collective memory of intractable conflicts significantly influences these conflicts. It is composed of the historical narratives of the conflicts, narratives which are often addressed in controversies regarding their accuracy and use. These controversies significantly affect the extent to which these narratives are adopted in the given society/country. To date, however, many theoretical aspects of such controversies have not been addressed in the literature and this also holds true for empirical features of historical controversies in Israel with regard to the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian (“conflict”). This article addresses these shortcomings.
Methodologically, the article uses content analysis of publications and interviews with key people in the institutions that produced these publications. Empirically, the article for the first time assembles all the main historical controversies taking place in Israel from 1949 to 2004 with regard to the major historical event in the conflict: the Nakba/1948 Palestinian exodus (“exodus”). Additionally, empirically, and theoretically, the article offers these contributions: a typology of controversies (inter- vs. intra-group, societal vs. state, public vs. private, and public – concrete vs. general), a description of their four aspects (historical, instrumental, interpretational and methodological), a discussion of controversy consequences, and a description of the factors that determine their importance in the memory realm.