Constructing a national past: The Palestinian case

Meir Litvak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Every nationalist seeks to provide what any nation is in need of: a suitable and dignified past. No aspirant ethnic group can be without its particular myth of descent if it is to secure recognition.1 Anthony Smith’s insights are particularly apposite to the Palestinians, who are still engaged in a struggle for the realization of their national aspirations against a rival national movement, Zionism, and against the State of Israel. Palestinian nationalism serves as a valuable case study of how, in order to forge a "nation" in the present, it is vital to create and crystallize ethnic components of the past; failure to do so is likely to constitute a serious impediment to nation building.2 The present study therefore explores the evolution and changes in the myths of common ancestry in Palestinian nationalism. More specifically, the conception or reconstruction of a national history among Palestinians and the changes this process underwent over three distinct periods of time will be examined: from the 1920s to 1967, which favored a pan-Arab narrative; from 1967 to 1994, which marked the revival and crystallization of a distinct Palestinian identity within a broader context of Arab nationalism, that is, up to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA); and from 1994 onward, under PNA auspices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalestinian Collective Memory and National Identity
EditorsMeir Litvak
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9780230621633, 0230613063
ISBN (Print)9780230613065
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Constructing a national past: The Palestinian case'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this