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Israeli war veterans’ memory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Rafi Nets-Zehngut (Davis Institute, Jerusalem, Israel)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




This paper aims to explore, for the first time over a long period of time, the autobiographical memory of Israeli veterans of the 1948 War, pertaining to the 1948 Palestinian exodus that led to the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. Does this memory include the Zionist narrative (i.e. willing flight of the Palestinian refugees) or a critical narrative (i.e. willing flight and expulsion)? One of the primary sources to influence the collective memory of conflicts is the autobiographical memory. This memory is also one of the primary sources for research of the past. Thus, autobiographical memory is of importance.


Methodologically, this is done through an analysis of all 1948 veterans’ memoirs published between 1949 and 2004. Interviews were also conducted with various veterans, to understand the dynamics of their memoir publication.


Empirical findings suggest that during the first period (1949-1968), this memory was exclusively Zionist; during the second (1969-1978), it became slightly critical; and during the third (1979-2004), the critical tendency became more prevalent. Onward, the nine empirical causes for the presentation of exodus the way it was presented are discussed. Theoretical findings relate, inter alia, to the importance of micro factors in shaping the autobiographical memory, assembles seven such theoretical factors, suggests that these factors can influence in two ways (promoting collective memory change or inhibiting it), and that their impact can change over time.


Taken together, the paper contributes empirical and theoretical findings that are based on a solid and wide scope research.



Nets-Zehngut, R. (2017), "Israeli war veterans’ memory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 182-201.



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