Book Review: The Forgotten Palestinians
By Rod Such
Beaver County Peace Links
Ilan Pappé's The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel (2011) is an important new addition to the growing literature about the Israeli government's treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.
Most people are unaware that Palestinian Arabs now represent 20 percent of Israel's population, a larger minority group than African Americans who make up 11 percent of the U.S. population. Israel's Palestinian Arab population is made up of those Palestinians who remained in Israel after its founding in 1948 and their descendants. Pappé's
The Forgotten Palestinians focuses on the history of this group of people from the period just prior to Israel's formation to the present. It also discusses current conditions facing Israeli Palestinians and their political consciousness and development. For those who want a more detailed understanding of current conditions, however, The Forgotten Palestinians should probably be read in conjunction with Israel's Palestinians: The Conflict Within (Cambridge University Press, 2011) by Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman.
Pappé is one of Israel's so-called "new historians," a group that includes among others Benny Morris, Tom Segev, and Avi Shlaim. The difference between these historians and all previous histories by Israeli authors is that the new historians-all Israeli Jews--were the first to have access to official Israeli, U.S., and British documents. In this sense, Segev suggests, they should be known as Israel's "first historians" because they were the first to be able to write authoritative history based in large part on actual government and military documents that had previously been classified secret.