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Israeli Approved Textbooks and the 1948 Palestinian Exodus


A country's official memory of a conflict in which it is involved is of great importance. One of the main presenters of that memory is the Ministry of Education, through the history and civics textbooks it approves for use in its educational system. This article explores for the first time the content of Israeli textbooks approved from 1959 through 2004 regarding one of the main events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—the 1948 Palestinian exodus. Did the textbooks present a Zionist narrative regarding the causes of the exodus (willing flight of the Palestinians), or a critical narrative (willing flight accompanied with expulsion)? Methodologically, the article uses content analysis of all the relevant textbooks, as well as interviews with senior staff at the Ministry and other appropriate figures. The research found that this official memory was dramatically transformed from being initially totally Zionist to eventually being totally critical, since 2000. Other aspects of this memory are also explored such as the reasons behind the presentation of these narratives, the external and self-censorship mechanisms that mediate the impact of these reasons, the manifestation and consequences of these mechanisms, as well as the modus operandi of the Ministry.

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