Study Surprisingly Finds 47% of Israeli-Jews Believe that the 1948 Palestinian Refugees were Expelled by Israel
First Study of its Kind Finds the Collective Memory of Israeli-Jews is Critical of Israel's Role in the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian Conflict
In addition, 46% believe that
“Collective memory” is a group’s viewpoint of history. In general, the study found Israeli Jews’ collective memory to be significantly critical of
Preliminary results from the study were released in January and have been reported in the media in five languages in countries around the world. The authors have continued to analyze the data and post new findings (view findings at http://www.tc.edu/news/article.htm?id=6812).
Rafi Nets-Zehngut, an Israeli, a Fellow at the
“Typically, societies involved in intractable conflicts like the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict adopt a collective memory of the conflict that is biased to a large degree and self-serving, as is part of the Zionist narrative,” says Nets-Zehngut. “If such study had been conducted between the 1950s and the 1970s, surely a much higher percentage of Israeli Jews would have held the Zionist narrative. The fact that we found this memory of the conflict to be somewhat critical (even though the conflict is still going on) is encouraging. It suggests that the Israeli-Jewish society has changed to become more critical, open and self-reflective, allowing it to adopt less biased narratives.”
However, Daniel Bar-Tal believes that the Israeli-Jewish society still has a significant way to go in changing its collective memory to become less biased and self serving. Many Israeli Jews still believe a Zionist narrative of many issues in the history of the conflict – a simplistic memory of the conflict which portrays
For example, regarding a more recent event – the failure of the Summer 2000 peace negotiations between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat – Israeli Jews took a harder line. Fifty six percent believe that Arafat declined a very generous peace offer by Barak because he did not want peace with Israel, versus only 25% who believe both parties were responsible for the failure and 3% who believed that Barak was responsible. Likewise, 60% replied that in the 1947 United Nations' partition plan of the Land of Israel/Palestine the Palestinians received an equal or larger part of the territory, relative to their percentage of its population. However, the facts are that the partition plan, which was rejected by the Palestinians, offered them (about 2/3 of the total population then) a smaller part of the territory (only 44%).
The study found older people, and the more religious ones to be more likely to believe the Zionist narrative. Further more, those supporting the Zionist narrative were significantly less likely to support peace agreements with the Palestinians and
The study is funded by a grant awarded by the IRPA (International Peace Research Association) Foundation to Nets-Zehngut, who came up with the idea to research this topic. It was conducted among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jews through Dialog, a well-established Israeli center for public opinion research. The questions in the survey examined the collective memory regarding 25 major issues associated with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, ranging from the late 19th century to the beginning of the 21at centaury. The aim is to publish the findings in a book. This study is related to further research by Nets-Zehngut, which examined the way seven primary Israeli social and state institutions (e.g., the media and the Israeli army) presented the causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus during the years of 1949-2004. These institutions had major impact on the Israeli-Jewish collective memory discussed above.
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Published Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009