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From Taboo to the Negotiable: The Israeli New Historians and the Changing Representation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem

  • Michal Ben-Josef Hirsch (a1)

In the last round of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at the Taba Conference (January 2001), Israeli negotiators went where no Israeli officials went before: they considered the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and a quasi-statement that acknowledges the Palestinian tragedy and Israel's share of historical responsibility. This paper argues that at least in part this shift in the negotiations' framework can be traced back to the public debate instigated by the work of Israeli New Historians.Michal Ben-Josef Hirsch is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( She thanks Boaz Atzili, Naomi Chazan, Orit Gal, Eran Kaplan, Daniel Levy, Ran Levy, Gil Merom, Clair Moon, Melissa Nobles, Jeremy Pressman, Stephen Van Evera, Amos Zehavi, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful and helpful comments and suggestions. She also thanks Kezia Avieli-Tabibyan from the Center of Educational Technology (MATAH, Israel) for her valuable assistance with Israeli history textbooks.

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Perspectives on Politics
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