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Ilan Pappé

Ilan Pappé

Published: March 30, 2010
Ilan Pappé

Ilan Pappé

Israeli "New Historian" who has used declassified Israeli government documents to publish new views related to the birth of Israel in 1948.

Ilan Pappé, an Israeli historian, was born in 1954 in Haifa of German-Jewish parents who escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Pappé went to Hebrew University in the 1970s, and it was there that he says that "I was exposed to the plight of the Palestinians in Israel as an undergraduate in the department of Middle Eastern History.It was then and there that I found my love for history and developed my belief that the present cannot be understood and the future changed without first trying to decipher its historical dimensions."

He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford in 1984, where he utilized newly declassified material in Israeli archives to analyze the 1948 war of independence. Using these documents, Pappé challenged many of the foundational Israeli assumptions about the war and described what happened that year as essentially an ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. "This conviction informed not only my work as a historian but also affected significantly my political views and activity," he says.

“[The end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip] can only be a first step because such a withdrawal does not solve the predicament of most of the Palestinian people, who live in refugee camps or are citizens of Israel. The end of the occupation is not equivalent to the end of the conflict…it is a precondition for peace.”

Pappé has been a senior lecturer of political science at Haifa University and the Academic Director of the Research Institute for Peace at Givat Haviva. He is to become Chair of History at Exeter University in England.

Pappé is known as one of one of Israel’s "New Historians." The New Historians is a loose classification of historians who have published new views related to the birth of Israel in 1948. As with Pappé, these individuals use declassified Israeli government documents to dispute the accepted narrative about the establishment of Israel, expulsion of the Palestinians, Arab intentions towards Israel, and the prospects for peace between Israel and the Arab states. Other Israeli New Historians include Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and Tom Segev.

Pappé’s books include:

  • The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951
  • The Israel/Palestine Question,
  • A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples
  • The Modern Middle East
  • The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

To learn more about Ilan Pappé see his website