Pappé, Ilan 1954- (Ilan Pappe)

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Pappé, Ilan 1954- (Ilan Pappe)


Born November 7, 1954, in Haifa, Israel; son of Fritze Karl and Klara Pappé; married Revital Sela; children: Ido, Yonatan. Education: Hebrew University, B.A.; Oxford University, Ph.D.


Home—Israel. Office—Haifa University, Political Science Department, 31905, Haifa, Israel. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Dayan Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel, research fellow, 1985-87; Haifa University, Haifa, Israel, senior lecturer in political science, 1992—; Research Institute for Peace, Givat Haviva, Israel, academic director, 1992—. Member of National Secretariat-Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, 1992—; Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies, Haifa, chair. Military service: Israeli Army, 1972-75, became sergeant.


Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-51, Macmillan (Basingstoke, England), 1988.

The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951, I.B. Tauris (London, England), 1992.

(Editor, with Joseph Nevo) Jordan in the Middle East: The Making of a Pivotal State, 1948-1988 Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 1994.

(Editor, with Moshe Ma'oz) Middle Eastern Politics and Ideas: A History from Within, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(Editor) The Israel/Palestine Question: A Reader, Routledge (New York, NY), 1999, 2nd edition, 2007.

A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

The Modern Middle East, Routledge (New York, NY), 2005.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, One World Publications (Oxford, England), 2006.


Ilan Pappé is a senior lecturer at Haifa University in Israel, where he has become a controversial figure in the "New Historian" movement. In this group are several left-leaning Jewish academics who have published books and articles that are sympathetic to the Palestinians; they have countered the official version of Israeli history promulgated by Zionist politicians and historians. Among the positions of these historians are the beliefs that Israelis have conducted an active campaign of ethnic cleansing and oppression against the Palestinians, and that Zionists portray an inaccurate version of history, in which Israel is viewed as a righteous David, bravely fending off a dangerous Goliath (the Palestinians). The wars Israel led in 1948 and 1967, and the aggressive military actions against Palestinians thereafter, are often seen as unjust. In the view of more moderate New Historians, both the Israelis and the Palestinians are seen as having made many mistakes and committed injustices. Pappé, however, is among the more radical members of the group, and his writings repeatedly express his idea that Israel is in the wrong and the Palestinians have been unjustly persecuted and oppressed for decades.

Pappé has published several books about the modern history of Palestine and the state of Israel that are strongly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Some reviewers have felt that the author has allowed his politics to get in the way of his objectivity when writing these histories, and that this has become increasingly a problem with each successive book. As Benny Morris wrote in the New Republic, Pappé's "first book, Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1951, … was bland and flat in tone. Perhaps this was due to its origins as a doctoral dissertation…. In his second book, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951, … Pappe allowed his politics more leeway, and they are apparent in his descriptions and in his interpretations; but here, too, there is an effort toward objectivity and accuracy."

With Pappé's 2004 publication, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, the author sacrifices historical facts in order to present his viewpoint, according to Morris, who repeatedly pointed out that Pappé misrepresents dates and events in his book. For example, Morris noted that Pappé says that a third of the Palestinians who were killed in the intifada of the late 1980s were women; in fact, asserted Morris, only about five percent of the casualties were women.

Morris was not the only reviewer critical of A History of Modern Palestine. For example, New Statesman contributor Stephen Howe similarly found that while the author's position is "ethically sound," the book is "also cluttered with factual mistakes." However, such observations are not to say that Pappé's book is without its merits and importance. Korcaighe P. Hale, writing in History: Review of New Books, found the book valuable for comparing the issues involving nationalism on both sides of the conflict, as well as "the potential conflict between cities and the countryside, or modern and traditional impulses." "It proves," Hale wrote, "a fascinating read with those additional elements." And although Charles D. Smith also observed the "flaws in some of its details," the critic asserted in his Middle East Journal review that A History of Modern Palestine is "brilliant in concept and in much of what is said."

The Modern Middle East, published in 2005, Pappé offers readers a survey of the history of the Middle East over the past hundred years. As part of his book, Pappé also analyzes the ways in which the region seeks to blend that history and its resultant strife with the modern world and issues that arise as a result of ongoing political turmoil. He points out that not only the elite groups in that part of the world should have a say in the political, social, economic, and cultural decisions being made, as they impact everyone, and that only through a solid foundation in the history of the land will true peace be brokered. Fred Rhodes, in a review for the Middle East, noted Pappé's emphasis on "the ideological question of whom we investigate in the past rather than how we investigate the past."

Pappé's next offering, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, is a bravely honest accounting of what was required in the Middle East to bring about the independent state of Israel. He describes the withdrawal of the British as Israel declared independence, and the split of Palestine into two separate parcels of land that was a result of the United Nations Resolution. As the separation occurred, with Israel gaining more land, numerous Palestinians were suddenly homeless, thrown off the land they had previously considered their own. Pappé sheds light on the truth regarding the behavior of the Israelis in their taking over the land, and the way they simply bulldozed any structures left standing in order to create their own country anew in their stead. Hugh Steadman, in a contribution for New Zealand International Review, found Pappé's book vital "for any one who wishes to see the implementation of policies that will lead to a peaceful and internationally acceptable Middle Eastern home for Jewish people."

In an interview for, Pappé expressed his opinion that peace is not going to come to the Middle East any time soon; however, he is hopeful that it will eventually become a reality. To make this happen, he claims that a bi-national state will need to be formed in which both Palestinians and Israelis can live: "I do support a bi-national state and find it a far better solution than the two-states solution offered by the Accords. In fact, I will even go further than that and claim that only a secular democratic single state will, at the end of the day, bring peace and reconciliation to Palestine."



Arena, August-September, 2003, John Docker, "New History and the New Catastrophe: Ilan Pappe, the New History and the Question of Israeli Genocide," p. 32.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 2004, Korcaighe P. Hale, review of A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, p. 113.

Jewish Advocate, August 6, 2004, Andrea Levin, "Library Journal's Skewed View; Book Reviewers Publication Takes Slant against Israel," p. 16.

Library Journal, January, 2004, Nader Entessar, review of A History of Modern Palestine, p. 136.

Logos, winter, 2004, "Power and History in the Middle East: A Conversation with Ilan Pappe."

Middle East, March, 2006, Fred Rhodes, review of The Modern Middle East, p. 64.

Middle Eastern Studies, January, 1994, David A. Korn, review of The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-51, p. 196.

Middle East Journal, summer, 2004, Charles D. Smith, "Palestine and Palestinians," review of A History of Modern Palestine, p. 520.

New Republic, March 22, 2004, Benny Morris, "Politics by Other Means," review of A History of Modern Palestine, p. 25.

New Statesman, March 8, 2004, Stephen Howe, "Divided Territory," review of A History of Modern Palestine, p. 53.

New Zealand International Review, January 1, 2008, Hugh Steadman, review of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p. 29.

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May, 2003, Pat Twair and Samir Twair, "Ilan Pappe Urges Divestment, Boycott, Anti-Apartheid Campaigns," p. 63.

ONLINE, (February 8, 2005), "Power and History in the Middle East: A Conversation with Ilan Pappe."