The Nakba in Israeli history textbooks: Between memory and history

Avner Ben-Amos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The aim of the present article is to delineate the way the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), which was one of the consequences of the 1948 War, has been portrayed in Israeli history textbooks since the establishment of the State of Israel until the present. Based on the assumption that all history textbooks can be situated between the poles of history and memory, the article examines three main factors that determine the actual place of textbooks: academic history, the dominant ideology within the ministry of education and pedagogical norms. An examination of history textbooks that have referred to the 1948 War shows that the entire time span can be divided into three periods: first period, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, in which the official Zionist view of the past prevailed; second, intermediary period, between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, in which the official Zionist view was slightly modified; and a third period, between the late 1990s and the late 2010s, in which the textbooks became diversified – some presented the official Zionist version, while others presented an alternative, critical version.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-115
Number of pages24
JournalQuest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2019


  • Curriculum
  • Memory
  • Nakba
  • Palestinians
  • Textbook
  • Zionism


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