Latest Issue

When historians matter

On Israel's 60th anniversary, one of the country's revisionist "new historians" looks back on how their work changed the debate over 1948

By Avi Shlaim   June 2008

Nationalist movements generate their own historical narratives in the struggle for statehood. These are, of course, usually distorted and self-serving. The official or semi-official history of the Zionist movement is no exception. Sixty years after the proclamation of the state of Israel, the origins of the state continue to preoccupy professional historians as well as the public.

The debate initially focused on 1948, on the birth of Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war. This debate is not so much between Arab and Israeli historians as it is between different groups of Israeli historians. And it has excited intense interest outside…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect