The Erasure of the Nakba in Israel's Archives
Israeli archives
whispering campaigns
psychological warfare
1948 war

2019 investigation by the Israeli NGO Akevot and Haaretz newspaper has uncovered official suppression of crucial documents about the Nakba in Israeli archives. The Journal of Palestine Studies is publishing print excerpts and a full online version of the buried “migration report,” which details Israel’s depopulation of Palestinian villages in the first six months of the 1948 war, a document that clearly undermines official Israeli state narratives about the course of events. In methodical fashion, this report provides contemporaneous documentation of Israeli culpability in the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and the systematic depopulation of so-called Arab villages in the first six months of the war. Alongside a discussion of key revelations in the newly available document, this introduction situates the broader pattern of erasure within historiographical debates over 1948 and questions of archival access. It examines how accounts of Israel’s birth and Palestinian statelessness have been crafted in relation to theunderlying question: who has permission to narrate the past?

Author biography: 

Seth Anziska is the Mohamed S. Farsi-Polonsky Associate Professor of Jewish-Muslim Relations at University College London. He is the author of Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018).