Zionism, Orientalism, and the Palestinians
The self-critical approach applied by Israel’s “New Historians” to the 1948 war needs to be extended to the study of Palestinian history as a whole. Harking back to earlier periods and other sources, the author exposes the Orientalist bias of the traditional Israeli historiography of Palestine by focusing on three of its common contentions: that there was no distinct Palestinian nationalism, that Palestinian society was primitive and backward, and that the speed of the Palestinian collapse in 1948 was a function of inherent flaws in the society.
Haim Gerber is professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author, among other books, of The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East. An earlier version of this article appeared in the Hebrew periodical Hamizrah Hehadas [The New East], Jerusalem.