Ilan Pappé

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Ilan Pappé
אילן פפה
Pappé in 2023
Born (1954-11-07) 7 November 1954 (age 69)
Haifa, Israel
Academic background
ThesisBritish Foreign Policy Towards the Middle East, 1948–1951: Britain and the Arab–Israeli Conflict (1984)
Academic work
School or traditionIsrael's "New Historians"

Ilan Pappé (Hebrew: אילן פפה, pronounced [iˈlan paˈpe]; born 7 November 1954) is an Israeli historian and political scientist. He is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies.

Pappé was born in Haifa, Israel.[1] Prior to coming to the UK, he was a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa (1984–2007) and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa (2000–2008).[2] He is the author of Ten Myths About Israel (2017), The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), The Modern Middle East (2005), A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (2003), and Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (1988).[3] He was also a leading member of Hadash,[4] and was a candidate on the party list in the 1996[5] and 1999[6] Knesset elections.

Pappé is one of Israel's New Historians who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have offered an unconventional view of Israel's creation in 1948, and the corresponding flight and expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians in the same year. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel's future leaders.[7] In a 2004 interview, Pappé said "The aim has always been, and it still remains, to have as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible."[8] He blames the creation of Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East, arguing that Zionism is more dangerous than Islamic militancy, and has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.[9][10]

Pappé supports the one-state solution, which envisages a unitary state for Palestinians and Israelis.[11] His work has been both supported and criticized by other historians. Before he left Israel in 2008, he had been condemned in the Knesset, Israel's parliament; a minister of education had called for him to be sacked; his photograph had appeared in a newspaper at the centre of a target; and he had received several death threats.[12]

Early life and education

Pappé was born in Haifa, Israel, to German-Jewish parents who fled Nazi persecution in the 1930s.[12] At the age of 18, he was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), serving in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[1] He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.[13] He then moved to England to study history at the University of Oxford, completing a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in 1984 under the supervision of Albert Hourani and Roger Owen.[1] His doctoral thesis was titled "British foreign policy towards the Middle East, 1948-1951: Britain and the Arab-Israeli conflict",[14] and this became his first book, Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.[9]

Academic career

Pappé in a lecture in the Manchester Metropolitan University in 2008

Pappé was a senior lecturer at the Middle Eastern History Department and the Political Science Department of the University of Haifa between 1984 and 2006.[15] He was the Academic Director of the Research Institute for Peace at Givat Haviva from 1993 to 2000, and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies.

Pappé left Israel in 2007 to take up his appointment in Exeter, after his endorsement of the boycott of Israeli universities led the president of the University of Haifa to call for his resignation.[16] Pappé said that he found it "increasingly difficult to live in Israel" with his "unwelcome views and convictions." In a Qatari newspaper interview explaining his decision, he said: "I was boycotted in my university and there had been attempts to expel me from my job. I am getting threatening calls from people every day. I am not being viewed as a threat to the Israeli society but my people think that I am either insane or my views are irrelevant. Many Israelis also believe that I am working as a mercenary for the Arabs."[17] He joined Exeter as Professor of History, and has been director of its European Centre for Palestine Studies since 2009.[13][18]

Katz controversy

Pappé publicly supported an M.A. thesis by Haifa University student Teddy Katz, which was approved with highest honors, that claimed Israel had committed a massacre in the Palestinian village of Tantura during the war in 1948, based upon interviews with Arab residents of the village and with an Israeli veteran of the operation.[19] Neither Israeli nor Palestinian historians had previously recorded any such incident, which Meyrav Wurmser described as a "made-up massacre".[20] According to Pappé, "the story of Tantura had already been told before, as early as 1950... It appears in the memoirs of a Haifa notable, Muhammad Nimr al-Khatib, who, a few days after the battle, recorded the testimony of a Palestinian."[21] In December 2000, Katz was sued for libel by veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade and after the testimony was heard, he retracted his allegations about the massacre. Twelve hours later, he retracted his retraction.[citation needed] During the trial, lawyers for the veterans pointed to what they said were discrepancies between the taped interviews Katz conducted and descriptions in Katz's thesis.[22]

Katz revised his thesis, and, following the trial, the university appointed a committee to examine it. After reviewing the taped interviews and finding discrepancies between them and what was written in the thesis, Katz was allowed to submit a revised thesis.[19] Pappé continues to defend both Katz and his thesis.[23][24] Tom Segev and others argued that there is merit or some truth in what Katz described.[24][25] According to the Israeli New Historian Benny Morris: "There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there."[26]

In January 2022, Alon Schwarz's film Tantura was shown at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Competition. In it, former Israeli soldiers admitted that a massacre took place in 1948 at Tantura. One former combat soldier stated: "They silenced it. The victims of the massacre were buried under what is today the Dor Beach parking lot, in an area measuring 35×4 meters." Adam Raz commented in Haaretz that there had been a public debate about the issue, with Yoav Gelber trying to discredit Katz's thesis, while Pappé defended the thesis. Raz said: "With the appearance of the testimony in Schwarz's film, the debate would seem to be decided."[27]

Political activism

In 1999, Pappé ran in the Knesset elections as seventh on the Communist Party-led Hadash list.[28]

After years of political activism, Pappé supports economic and political boycotts of Israel, including an academic boycott. He believes boycotts are justified because "the Israeli occupation is a dynamic process and it becomes worse with each passing day. The AUT can choose to stand by and do nothing, or to be part of a historical movement similar to the anti-apartheid campaign against the white supremacist regime in South Africa. By choosing the latter, it can move us forward along the only remaining viable and non-violent road to saving both Palestinians and Israelis from an impending catastrophe."[29]

If it is possible Israel's conduct in 1948 would be brought onto the stage of international tribunals; this may deliver a message even to the peace camp in Israel that reconciliation entails recognition of war crimes and collective atrocities. This cannot be done from within, as any reference in the Israeli press to expulsion, massacre or destruction in 1948 is usually denied and attributed to self hate and service to the enemy in times of war. This reaction encompasses academia, the media and educational system, as well as political circles.[30]

As a result, then University of Haifa President Aaron Ben-Ze'ev called on Pappé to resign, saying: "it is fitting for someone who calls for a boycott of his university to apply the boycott himself."[16] He said that Pappé would not be ostracized, since that would undermine academic freedom, but he should leave voluntarily.[31] In the same year, Pappé initiated the annual Israeli Right of return conferences, which called for the unconditional right of return of the Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948.

In August 2015, Pappé was a signatory to a letter criticising The Jewish Chronicle's reporting of Jeremy Corbyn's association with alleged antisemites.[32] In 2023, he described Israel as committing an "incremental genocide" of the Palestinian people.[33] During the 2023 Israel-Hamas war, Pappé reaffirmed his opposition to Zionism, writing that "this violence is not a new phenomenon," and called for a "de-zionised, liberated and democratic Palestine from the river to the sea."[34] He called for the Israeli government to conduct a prisoner exchange in order to release the hostages held by Hamas.[35] Pappé's comments following the 2023 Hamas attack on Israel drew criticism from The Telegraph and parts of the student body at the University of Exeter, namely in stating he had admiration for Hamas militants' courage and ability to take over military bases in Israel and rejected the claim that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, although he condemned the attack.[36]

Critical assessment

Israeli scholar Emmanuel Sivan, reviewing Pappé's 2003 political biography of the al-Husayni family, praised the book's treatment of the development of Palestinian nationalism and that of Haj Amin's exile in Germany, but criticised the view taken on the mufti's visit to the German consul and the scant attention given to Faisal Husseini.[37]

In a review for Arab Studies Quarterly, Seif Da'Na described Pappé's 2006 book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine as a "highly documented narrative of the events" surrounding the Nakba and an example of "serious scholarship that only a virtuoso historiographer could produce".[38] Arab Studies Quarterly also praised Pappé's 2017 book Ten Myths About Israel, describing it as "well-documented" and an "invaluable and courageous contribution" from an "insightful" historian.[39] In a review for the journal Global Governance, Rashmi Singh praised Pappé's 2014 book The Idea of Israel as a "courageous and unflinching study of the role of Zionism in the creation of [...] the state of Israel".[40] However, Singh did feel that the book assumes the reader has prior knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict and thus may be difficult to follow for "those who are not conversant with the facts".[40]

Uri Ram, a professor of Ben-Gurion University, reviewed The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine for the Middle East Journal and described the book as "a most important and daring book that challenges head-on Israeli historiography and collective memory and even more importantly Israeli conscience".[41] The same book was reviewed by Hugh Steadman for the New Zealand International Review, in which he called Pappé's book the "definitive record of the caesarean operation by which the state of Israel was born" and "essential reading" for those who wish to see a "peaceful and internationally acceptable Middle Eastern home for Jewish people".[42]

Those critical of his work include Benny Morris (who described some of Pappé's writing as "complete fabrication" and said he was "at of the world's sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest"),[43][44][45] Efraim Karsh, and activist Herbert London as well as professors Daniel Gutwein[46] and Yossi Ben-Artzi[47] from Haifa University. Pappé has replied to this criticism, condemning Morris for holding "abominable racist views about the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular."[23][24][48][49]

In August 2021, following the translation of his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine into Hebrew, the historian Adam Raz published a review in Haaretz[50] criticizing Pappé as a historian whose work "suffers from negligence, manipulations and mistakes galore, and the result is not serious research". In the article, Raz presents various examples of "lies", inaccuracies, and the lack of sources for Pappé's various claims, the most prominent of which is the latter's claim that "rape took place in every village," without citing a source, while ignoring publications that contradict this claim, such as Tal Nitzan's study: "Boundaries of Occupation: The Rarity of Military Rape in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict".[51] The title of the article "Selective Reading" refers, among other things, to such a reading of the diaries of Theodor Herzl and Ben-Gurion, Berl Katzenelson and Israel Galili.[52] This critique is consistent with the critique of other historians such as Morris and Yoav Gelber.

Published work


  • The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories. London: Oneworld Publications. 2017. ISBN 978-1-85168-587-5. Archived from the original on 14 October 2023.
  • Ten Myths About Israel. New York: Verso. 2017. ISBN 9781786630193
  • (with Noam Chomsky) On Palestine. Chicago: Haymarket Books. 2015. ISBN 978-1-60846-470-8.
  • The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge. New York: Verso. 2014.
  • "The Boycott Will Work: An Israeli Perspective" in Audrea Lim (ed.) The Case for Sanctions Against Israel. London & Brooklyn, NY: Verso. 2012.
  • The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2011.
  • (with Noam Chomsky) Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians (Hamish Hamilton, 2010). ISBN 978-0-241-14506-7
  • Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel. London: Pluto Press. 2010.
  • The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis, 1700–1948. London: Saqi Books. 2010.
  • The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (London and New York: Oneworld, 2006). ISBN 1-85168-467-0
  • The Modern Middle East (London and New York: Routledge, 2005). ISBN 0-415-21409-2
  • A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (Cambridge University Press, 2004), ISBN 0-521-55632-5
  • (With Jamil Hilal). Parlare Con il Nemico, Narrazioni palestinesi e israeliane a confronto (Milano: Bollati Boringhieri, 2004).
  • The Aristocracy: The Husaynis; A Political Biography (Jerusalem: Mossad Byalik, (Hebrew), 2003).
  • The Israel-Palestine Question (London and New York: Routledge, 1999; 2006). ISBN 0-415-16948-8
  • (with M. Maoz). History From Within: Politics and Ideas in Middle East (London and New York: Tauris, 1997). ISBN 1-86064-012-5
  • (with J. Nevo). Jordan in the Middle East: The Making of a Pivotal State (London: Frank Cass, 1994). ISBN 0-7146-3454-9
  • The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947–1951 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1992; 1994). ISBN 1-85043-819-6
  • Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948–1951 (London: St. Antony's College Series, Macmillan Press; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988). ISBN 0-312-01573-9


See also


  1. ^ a b c "Power and History in the Middle East: A Conversation with Ilan Pappe". Logos. 3 (1). Winter 2004. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Ilan Pappé: profile". University of Exeter. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Ilan Pappé: publications". University of Exeter. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  4. ^ Ettinger, Yair (26 November 2002). "A new candidate for the Hadash coalition: Attorney Dov Hanin of Tel Aviv". Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  5. ^ "List of candidates רשימת מועמדים" (PDF). Israel Democracy Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  6. ^ "(List of candidates) רשימת המועמדים". Knesset. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  7. ^ Pappé, Ilan (2007) [2006]. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 86–126.
  8. ^ "Power and History in the Middle East: A Conversation with Ilan Pappe". Logos. 3 (1). Winter 2004.
  9. ^ a b Wilson, Scott (11 March 2007). "A Shared History, a Different Conclusion". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  10. ^ Lynfield, Ben (12 May 2005). "British Boycott Riles Israeli Academics". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  11. ^ Negev, Ayelet (15 March 2008). "Ilan Pappe: I'm not a traitor". Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved 18 May 2012. [T]here needs to be one state here that isn't Jewish nor Palestinian, but a state of all its citizens, like in the US.
  12. ^ a b Arnot, Chris (20 January 2009). "'I felt it was my duty to protest'". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Professor Ilan Pappé". Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. University of Exeter. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  14. ^ Pappé, Ilan (1901). British foreign policy towards the Middle East, 1948-1951: Britain and the Arab-Israeli conflict (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  15. ^ "The False Paradigm of Parity and Partition: Revisiting 1967".
  16. ^ a b Traubman, Tamara (26 April 2005). "Haifa University president calls on dissident academic to resign". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  17. ^ Paul, Jonny (1 April 2007). "Academic slams Israel for land grab". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  18. ^ "The European Centre for Palestine Studies: About us". Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. University of Exeter. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  19. ^ a b Segev, Tom (23 May 2002). "His colleagues call him a traitor". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  20. ^ Wurmser, Meyrav (2001). "Made-Up Massacre". The Weekly Standard. 6 (48). Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  21. ^ The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p. 137.
  22. ^ Ratner, David (9 February 2012). "PA paid legal defense fees of 1948 Tantura affair historian". Haaretz. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  23. ^ a b Pappé, Ilan (2001a). "The Tantura Massacre, 22–23 May 1948" (PDF). Journal of Palestine Studies. 30 (3): 5–18. doi:10.1525/jps.2001.30.3.5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  24. ^ a b c Pappé, Ilan (2001b). "The Tantura Case in Israel: The Katz Research and Trial" (PDF). Journal of Palestine Studies. 30 (3): 19–39. doi:10.1525/jps.2001.30.3.19. hdl:10871/15238. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  25. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (10 December 2001). "Confronting the past". Retrieved 20 May 2012. 'The question of whether the Alexandroni Brigade troopers did indeed murder residents of Tantura and the place of the entire episode in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians still remains,' the historian Tom Segev wrote in the Ha'aretz newspaper.
  26. ^ Shavit, Ari (8 January 2004). "Survival of the fittest". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  27. ^ There's a Mass Palestinian Grave at a Popular Israeli Beach, Veterans Confess, Adam Raz, Jan. 20, 2022, Haaretz
  28. ^ "1996 election results for Hadash—Democratic Front for Peace and Equality". Retrieved 17 May 2012. (Pappé is No. 7)
  29. ^ Pappé, Ilan (24 May 2005). "Back the boycott". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  30. ^ Pappé, Ilan (2005). "The Process That Never Was". In Podeh, Elie; Kaufman, Asher (eds.). Arab-Jewish Relations: From Conflict to Resolution?. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. p. 244.
  31. ^ Traubman, Tamara (27 April 2005). "Haifa U. academic remains steadfast in support of boycott". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  32. ^ Dysch, Marcus (18 August 2015). "Anti-Israel activists attack JC for challenging Jeremy Corbyn". The Jewish Chronicle.
  33. ^ Pappe, Ilan (16 March 2023). "Using the Right Language: The 'Incremental Genocide' of the Palestinians Continues". Palestine Chronicle.
  34. ^ admin (10 October 2023). "My Israeli Friends: This is Why I Support Palestinians - ILAN PAPPE". Palestine Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2023.
  35. ^ "Israeli Historian Ilan Pappé on the Context Behind Current Violence". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  36. ^ Parker, Fiona (18 November 2023). "Exeter University professor 'admires courage' of Hamas 'fighters'". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  37. ^ Sivan, Emmanuel (11 April 2003). "A family tree whose roots are still hidden". Haaretz. Retrieved 18 May 2012. Pappe has written a book that begins with a roar but ends in a whimper.
  38. ^ Da'Na, Seif (2007). "Ilan Pappé. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine". Arab Studies Quarterly. 29 (3–4).
  39. ^ "Pappé, Ilan. Ten Myths about Israel". Arab Studies Quarterly. Summer 2019. 2019.
  40. ^ a b Singh, Rashmi (2015). "The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge". Global Governance. 21 (1).
  41. ^ Uri Ram (2008). "Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine". Middle East Journal. 62 (1): 150–152. JSTOR 25482478.
  42. ^ Hugh Steadman (2008). "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine". New Zealand International Review. 33 (1): 29–30. JSTOR 45235739.
  43. ^ Morris, Benny (22 March 2004). "Politics by Other Means". The New Republic. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  44. ^ Gutwein, Daniel (2003). "Left and Right Post-Zionism and the Privatization of Israeli Collective Memory". In Shapira, Anita; Penslar, Derek Jonathan (eds.). Israeli Historical Revisionism: From Left to Right. London: Frank Cass Publishers. pp. 16–8.
  45. ^ Morris, Benny (17 March 2011). "The Liar as Hero". The New Republic. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  46. ^ Gutwein (2011). "Left and Right Post-Zionism", p. 100.
  47. ^ Ben-Artzi, Yossi (2011). "Out of (Academic) Focus: on Ilan Pappe, Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel" (PDF). Israel Studies. 16 (2): 165–183. doi:10.2979/israelstudies.16.2.165. S2CID 142819418. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  48. ^ Shehori, Dalia (5 May 2004). "One man's history is another man's lie". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  49. ^ Pappé, Ilan (30 March 2004). "Response to Benny Morris' "Politics by other means" in the New Republic". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  50. ^ Raz, Adam (6 August 2021). "Selective Reading". Ha'aretz (in Hebrew). "Books" Appendix. pp. 76–79.
  51. ^ Nitzan, Tal (1977). "Boundaries of Occupation: The Rare of Military Rape in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict". The Israeli Open University (in Hebrew).
  52. ^ Raz, Adam (6 August 2021). "Selective Reading". Ha'aretz (in Hebrew). "Books" Appendix. p. 78.

External links