From the CIAO Atlas Map of Middle East 

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Constructing Suez: International Relations, Historiology, and the 1956 Sinai Campaign

Jonathan B. Isacoff

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000



This paper seeks to accomplish two tasks. The first is to introduce and demonstrate the importance of historiology to international relations. The second is to discuss several significant historiological issues in light of the evolving historiography of the 1956 Arab-Israeli war. The paper argues that there are two problems, the presentist-antiquarian dilemma and the objectivity problem, that need to be treated more carefully in international relations scholarship. The reason for this is that international relations models tested against specific historical case studies are likely to encounter difficulties when the basic "history" of the cases in question is in fact shifting, in some instances rapidly and dramatically. The paper assesses four motifs from the early historiography of the Sinai Campaign in order to demonstrate the viability of this claim. The paper concludes that the early historiography of 1956 is inherently problematic but that there is as yet no mechanism for international relations to account for the questions raised by historical revisionism. The paper is thus the first component of a more comprehensive and ongoing project to resolve the problems of presentism-antiquarianism and objectivity in international relations.


"The writing of history is largely a process of diversion. Most historical accounts distract attention from the secret influences behind great events."
"Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know." 1


Introduction: Why History?

Several years ago, International Security hosted a symposium on the possibilities and benefits or lack thereof of an ongoing relationship between international relations and diplomatic history. 2 What is most conspicuous regarding the symposium is not so much the content or arguments of the published papers as the curious theme of solidarity and communion among the participants. Under relentless and often ruthless attack within their own discipline, it is not surprising that diplomatic historians would seek out "brothers under the skin" to help preserve a community that is rapidly diminishing in its traditional context. 3 While conventional or "mainstream" international relationists are not so precariously situated, it is also likely that they too would seek epistemologically like-minded allies in the face of proliferating postmodern, critical theoretical, and linguistically-informed criticisms of the established order. Whether in spite of these common motives or because of them, the most glaring aspect of the IS symposium is its general lack of discussion of substantive issues pertaining to historical research, historical method, and indeed, historiology itself as loci of intellectual and practical inquiry. 4 Most of the articles instead chose to celebrate the perceived congruence of empirical interests among international relationists and diplomatic historians. Even more surprising is the peculiar fact that aside from the IS symposium and a small handful of articles and books, the "historic turn" in the human sciences seems to have bypassed (or, more likely, been bypassed by) international relations altogether. 5 This is unfortunate because, as this paper will attempt to show, there are important substantive issues to be revealed by giving more serious treatment to history, historiology, and international relations.

In recent years, international relations scholarship has become increasingly bifurcated into historical qualitative versus statistical and formal quantitative research. 6 The vast majority of scholars who for a host of normative and epistemological reasons do not engage in quantitative forms of research find historical analysis as their likely methodological destination. This alone should be cause for caring about history and historiology. But there is an additional and perhaps more important reason to be concerned with historiology: fundamental flaws in the "coding" of historical cases in major databases stemming from an inability to account for historiological problems could have far-reaching consequences for every quantitative methodologist who employs such databases. As good parsimony-concerned scholars, however, international relationists, with some rare exceptions, tend to shy away from becoming entangled in seemingly arcane and intellectually contorted debates about epistemology and theory derived from other disciplines. "Consuming" history in the form of case studies is fine; critically examining how and why history is consumed is another matter. 7 This leaves open a number of interesting and important questions. First, how can one unlock the matter of whether and what international relations, and indeed, political science in general, might learn from history and historiology, so to speak? Second, what is the practical importance of historiology with regard to empirical questions in political science and international relations?

A meaningful response to the first question requires an unfolding of two overarching theoretical problems. The first problem regards a clash of worldviews pertaining to history as an activity and object of scholarly interest. To elaborate, there is a need to address the great tension between the "presentist" approach to history, which argues that historical inquiry should be driven by a concern with contemporary problems, and the "antiquarian" approach, which suggests that history should be examined on its own terms; that is, to discover "what happened." In Section I of the paper, I argue that these two approaches create a double-dilemma that is essentially impossible to resolve but that can be alleviated by adopting several important epistemological positions. The second problem alludes to the question of objectivity, or the ability or lack thereof to grasp reality/actuality. While many have discussed and chronicled this problem historically, the question of objectivity has never been satisfactorily addressed by historians and even less so by political scientists. In Section II of the paper, I argue that there are three positions one can take toward this problem and that of these, the "tempered subjectivist" position is the most desirable, epistemologically and normatively speaking.

In response to the second question — that of practical importance and empirical research — I begin by hypothesizing that most international relations research has failed to adequately respond to the interrelated problems of presentism/antiquarianism and objectivity. In order to test this hypothesis, I examine the important empirical and theoretical transformations brought about by the "new historical and sociological" school of Israel Studies during the past decade. Newly released archival material along with political changes in Israel during the past ten to fifteen years have fostered the growth of a vast and vibrant body of new scholarship that challenges many of the basic assumptions and understandings about the foundation and political history of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. While the changes induced by these developments have been largely the concern of historians and Israel Studies specialists, the implications of the new literature are certainly more far reaching. This is because in addition to providing one among many recent instances or historical "revisionism" that one might cite, this particular revisionism is very much a project-in-progress and one that allows for a wide range of expectations and even "predictions" that can be "tested" by comparing the "old" and the "new" Israeli and Arab-Israeli histories. Section III of the paper introduces the main achievements and importance of the New Israeli Historiography as an empirical and theoretical body of literature. Section IV critically investigates the "old" Israeli historiographical narratives of the 1956 Sinai campaign in light of new and alternative historical and political insights. Section V concludes by suggesting the implications of this critical interpretation of the events of 1956 for historical international relations in the context of a broader research program and elaborates on several likely avenues for ongoing research.


I. For Whose Sake on Whose Terms?: Presentism, Antiquarianism, and Political Science

In a recent article in the National Interest, James Kurth issued a heavy-handed indictment of international relations for its spectacular failure to be of relevance to "real-world" problems and issues of general concern. Even when IR scholarship manages to overcome its endemic overspecialization, Kurth argues, its prescriptions often have little meaning to practitioners of international affairs. 8 Thus, for instance, the leading neorealist scholar in IR, Kenneth Waltz, suggests the spread of nuclear weapons as a positive development, a position that is, according to Kurth, roundly rejected in virtually all quarters of the nuclear policy community. 9 Kurth, intentionally or not, raises the matter of the deep tension in historical analysis between "presentism" — the concern with history in light of contemporary problems — and "antiquarianism" — the concern with history to discover "what happened." Kurth's critical position on the matter is clear enough: international relations isn't concerned enough with problems that are of current and practical importance. However, this position reveals a striking paradox in international relations scholarship: contemporary IR is naively removed from the "real world." Yet at the same time, it is difficult, if not impossible, to call to mind even one political scientist who is not presentist in his/her outlook regarding history. 10 In several instances, well-known political scientists argue for presentism not only as a guide for political science but also for policymaking as well. 11 So international relations, despite its presentist orientation, fails in its ability to be presentist. What accounts for this paradox?

The answer lies in the false promise of universalism and its interrelationship with the distorting effects of presentism. Contemporary international relations is divided into universalist "paradigms" or worldviews — realism, liberalism, marxism — each of which stakes claims to comprehending fundamental structural traits of world politics. While each of the paradigms suggests itself as "timeless," the actual adherents to the paradigms — realists, liberals, marxists — are in practice profoundly influenced by the "problems" of the present. Thus, international relations scholarship adopts an impossible universalist-presentist position that leads to at least two undesirable practices. The first is the tendency to interpret the past in light of "timeless" models that are in fact very much the product of contemporary problems but which masquerade in the guise of universalism. Thus, structural realism becomes equally applicable to ancient Greece as it is to the modern state system in spite of obvious and dramatic dissimilarities in the practice of international relations and structure of the units in each "system." Accordingly, history becomes transformed into a "grabbag from which each advocate pulls out a 'lesson' to prove his point." 12 The second practice is a rather hasty and clumsy appreciation of history in the effort to find quick answers to complex contemporary problems. Thus, "The importance of 'current events' anomalies gives the development of the field a peculiar volatile quality: Rather than confronting anomalies in the broad stretches of international history that remain unexamined, theoretical 'testing' occurs in a random and often surprising fashion." 13 History is "used" for a quick fix but not respected as a broader domain deserving of more careful examination and understanding, as is advocated by the antiquarian approach discussed below.

The counterpoint to the presentist view of history is here called the "antiquarian approach" adopted in some sectors of the historical community. As alluded to earlier, this view advocates history "on its own terms," where historians approach historical research with a concern for discovering "what happened." Collingwood, although in other ways sympathetic to presentism, offers a most eloquent articulation in support of the antiquarian view by suggesting that the proper task of the historian is to insert him/herself into the minds of historical actors in order to "re-think" the events of history through their perspectives. Thus, "All history is the history of thought… But how does the historian discern the thoughts which he is trying to discover? There is only one way in which it can be done: by re-thinking them in his own mind." 14 He elaborates:

The peculiarity which makes [an event] historical is not the fact of its happening in time, but the fact of its becoming known to us by our re-thinking the same thought which created the situation we are investigating, and thus coming to understand the situation… Historical knowledge is the knowledge of what mind has done in the past, and at the same time it is the redoing of this, the perpetuation of past acts in the present. Its object is therefore not a mere object, something outside the mind which knows it; it is an activity of thought, which can be known only in so far as the knowing mind re-enacts it and knows itself as so doing. 15

Thus, history is undertaken with a concern for understanding it "on its own terms" by attempting a cognitive and temporal outer-body experience, much like a character from a Jack Finney novel. There are, however, two main problems with antiquarianism, one from the epistemological perspective, the other with regard to political science more specifically. First, just as no human can fully escape from the "problem orientation" that shapes his/her values and opinions, neither can any individual "historicize" the past or re-enter into its setting, for the domain of the past slips away quickly and once it has gone, it can never be "objectively" comprehended. As Jenkins points out, "no matter how ingeniously constructed the past has been in modernist (and other) historical/ethical practices, it is now clear that 'in and for itself' there is nothing definitive for us to get out of it other than that which we have put into it." 17 Ironically, however, in spite of the impossibility of re-entering the past, the very effort to do so is apt to cause a dislocation from the concerns of the present, the latter of which are the primary reason political science is interested in history in the first place. Thus, the presentist/antiquarian divide creates a double-dilemma: historical research should be undertaken out of a concern for the present but in order for historical work to be meaningful, one must attempt a disconnection from all matters current and enter into the minds of historical actors. However, no sooner does one attempt the move into the past than one is confronted with the fact that the past is gone, not to ever be understood except via memory and interpretation.

What is the solution to this double bind? In order to bridge the presentist/antiquarian divide, one must succumb to the perils of each problem simultaneously. That is, one must not seek to mask the unavoidable bias driving all social research. To the contrary, one must embrace bias by clearly and unambiguously articulating the problem-orientation driving his/her research program. However, when interpreting the past in light of contemporary problems and motivations, we must not fall prey to the false realization that this is the past as it really was. Rather, we should comprehend that this is the past as we choose to see it and as it serves the purpose of helping to resolve contemporary problems. In attempting — but never fully succeeding — to re-enact the thought processes of historical actors, we have a powerful means to escape the constraints of contemporary thought and to further understanding of ourselves and our current problems. Collingwood suggests the wisdom of this position when he states that, "Self-knowledge is desirable and important to man, not only for its own sake, but as a condition without which no other knowledge can be critically justified and securely based." 18 The most crucial form of such self-knowledge, however, is an awareness of our own human constructed and radically contingent effort to reveal the realm of the past, which leads to the problem of objectivity, discussed below.


I. What is the Objective?

Yearn as we might to cling to the mythical notion of plain, unalterable facts, all thoughtful scholarship must confront the question: what is the nature of truth and knowledge and how can we know what we do about such concepts? The field of history has itself gone through multiple oscillations from the Rankeian objectivism of the nineteenth century to the subjectivism of Carl Becker and Charles Beard during the first half of the twentieth and back again during the past fifty or so years. While the objectivity question can not (and likely never will be) definitively resolved, it is surprising how little consensus prevails on the matter within the historical profession. Rather than repeat the work of others, who have surveyed the trajectory of this question historically, I seek instead to lay out the range of reasonable possibilities on the matter and discuss the broader implications each has for historically concerned political scientists. 19 There are three essential positions one can adopt on the matter of historical objectivity, each of which is discussed in the following subsections. Though it is unlikely that one of these positions will ever definitively "triumph" over the others, each argument has profoundly different implications both for original historical investigation and for political science research based on the work of academic historians. The following three subsections therefore elaborate on the theoretical and methodological implications of the three positions on objectivity and offer constructive suggestions as to the strengths and flaws of each.


A. Objectivism/Fundamentalism


According to the objectivist position, there is an objective history (e.g., facts, events, etc.) and it is within human capacity to know this. Thus, when the historian reconstructs the past from historical archives (or interviews, memoirs, journals, videotape, etc.), the material contained within the written or unwritten sources is "objectively" historical. The historical method reveals "objective" knowledge through the practice of primary historical research. 20 In more lay terms, objectivist history is what Jack Levy, in one of the wittier quips of the IS symposium, calls the "Dragnet" conception of history, based on the famous phrase, "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts." 21 This perspective is also quite similar to what Collingwood terms the "common sense" theory of history, according to which four steps must occur in order to establish historical knowledge: 1) Some one must be acquainted with an event; 2) (s)he must remember it; 3) (s)he must state his recollection of it in terms intelligible to another; 4) that other must accept the statement as true.

History is thus believing some one else when he says that he remembers something. The believer is the historian; the person believed is called his authority… This doctrine implies that historical truth, so far as it is at all accessible to the historian, is accessible to him only because it exists ready made in the ready-made statements of his authorities. These statements are to him a sacred text, whose value depends wholly on the unbrokenness of the tradition they represent. He must there on no account tamper with them; and above all, he must not contradict them. 22

In the objectivist view, humans are merely sieves of objective knowledge, taking history from sources and placing it in orderly but unaltered fashion into historical text. Both the historian and the political scientist may adopt this view. For the historian, the objective facts are drawn from archives (or interviews, memoirs, journals, videotape, etc.) which serve as the sources for historical texts. For the political scientist, the authoritative historical record — defined as the cumulation of authoritative historical texts — provides the database from which objective history is derived.

2. Implications

The objectivist position offers the least problematic view of historical political science research. There is one and only one discreet history, or set of facts — contained within the authoritative historical record, defined as the cumulation of authoritative historical texts — and it on these that historical research should focus. Various historical interpretative schools may compete regarding the significance of history and fact. However, consensus on the historical record by these otherwise competing schools is the indication of the historical/factual objectivity and reliability of the overall record. In other words, historical debates are not over "what" happened but rather, what the record "means." Political science research for the objectivist is essentially the same as what Collingwood terms "scissors and paste" history, which entails "cutting and pasting" the historical record of authorities and presenting it as "history." 23 The methodology of objectivist political science is thus relatively straightforward: To discover if a given historical case affirms or harms a hypothesis, one must refer to the "authoritative" historical record. The problem of bias in source selection is seemingly averted because the researcher does not choose only those sources which are favorable to his/her model, but rather those that are "authoritative," whether favorable or no. The "authority" of the record is not challenged and is deemed a matter to be determined by historians.


A. Untempered Subjectivism/Radical Relativism


According to the untempered subjectivist position, all history (e.g., facts, events, etc.) is subjective; it is filtered through human cognitive capacities, perceptions, and imagination. There is no objective — i.e., universal, independent — history to speak of, only that which individuals construct socially or cognitively. Thus, it is more accurate and preferable always to speak in terms of "histories" rather than history, because every individual is potentially her/his own historian. Furthermore, it is crucial to distinguish between history, or historical narrative, and the past. To do so, many subjectivists refer to Derrida's "originary" violence, the notion that there is an inescapable and logical rupture between the ideality or purity of a term (i.e., a historical event) and the empirical inscription of the term (i.e., the textual recording of history). 24


The untempered subjectivist position is most akin to what some might term "postmodern" or idiographic political science. Since there is no single history or set of facts it is the very diversity or multiplicity of the facts rather than the facts' implications for theory that is the main focus of scholarship according to this perspective. This is both liberating and constraining from the standpoint of historical political science research. It is liberating in the sense that meaning can be found in unlikely places and indeed, insight can be derived from virtually any source. Furthermore, both historical sources and the "political science" constructed from them can take essentially any narrative form; what is "significant" for both history and historical political science is in the eye of the beholder. Untempered subjectivism resolves the problem of selection bias by asserting that all research is biased and most research, profoundly so. What is really of interest to the untempered subjectivist, then, is the type — i.e., left-wing, right-wing, etc. — rather than the degree of bias. The primary constraint of this perspective is its lack of a standard arbitration mechanism for distinguishing important from insignificant historical research, since any source is a potentially rich one. Indeed, Lyotard celebrates and embraces this lack through his conception of the differand: "a conflict, an irresolvable difference, between at least two parties, which cannot be resolved for lack of a rule of judgment equally applicable and acceptable to both of them." 25 This failure to arbitrate, however, makes generalizing from qualitatively like data difficult, if not impossible, and thus, many critics argue that untempered subjectivism is subversive of theory building and indeed, of social science itself. 26


C. Tempered Subjectivism/Universal Skepticism

1. Assumptions

The tempered subjectivist position contends that there may or may not be an objective history but more importantly, it must be presumed that it is beyond human capacity to determine as such. 27 Thus, to speak in terms of objective history (facts, events, etc.) is not useful and potentially dangerous. 28 However, in so far as broad communities of agreement on certain historical matters exist, it is possible to speak in terms of practical historical truth; that is history that can be treated as a functional surrogate for the objective. Thus, certain historical matters can be treated as if they were objective without granting that they are in fact so. History in this view can be labeled intersubjective rather objective or subjective. In contrast to the objectivist position, the possibility of knowing the objective is denied. However, unlike the position taken by radical relativism, each is not her/his own historian; intersubjective understandings of history are ignored at the peril of arguing the absurd. 29

2. Implications

The tempered subjectivist position attempts to navigate a middle ground between the previous two perspectives. As such, it is perhaps the most complicated and difficult position from which to undertake political science research. All history and fact are taken as contingent, as are the sources from which history and fact are derived. However, unlike the untempered subjectivist position, there is not an infinite set of possible histories and facts. Rather, one is inclined to pay heed to the consensuses and debates existent within historical communities over history and fact, such as they exist. What is most significant, then, is not the objective nature of history per se, but what has and hasn't been agreed upon regarding that history. This makes theory building through historical research possible but more complicated and "messy" as compared with the methodology of the historical objectivist or the untempered subjectivist. The idea of tempered subjectivism finds its roots in the Florentine Renaissance scholar, Giambattista Vico, who according to Collingwood argued that "the important question about any statement contained in a source is not whether it is true or false, but what it means. And to ask what it means is to step right outside the world of scissors-and-paste history into a world where history is not written by copying out the testimony of the best sources, but by coming to your own conclusions." 30

The methodological implications of this issue have been addressed in more practical and contemporary terms by Lustick, who suggests that political scientists have been all too guilty of selection bias in their research by simply "finding" what they are looking for in their sources — that is employing only sources favorable to their argument and ignoring the rest. 31 From the discussion above we recall that objectivism seeks to eliminate this problem by advocating the use of the "authoritative" historical record. This corrective becomes problematic in the tempered subjectivist view, however, because the "authority" of any given record is human constructed and contingent at best. Tempered subjectivism suggests that the "authority" behind historical records is thus much like the Wizard behind the screen in Oz, projecting a monolithic image that is quickly broken down upon closer examination. Thus, historical research is a complicated and time-consuming endeavor, involving a breakdown of the historical record into multiple — but not infinitely multiple — records and authorities from which composite narratives can be reconstructed and biases, such as invariably will exist, are exposed and made more explicit.


III. The New Israeli Historiography

The preceding sections of the paper operate under the premise that the problems of presentism/antiquarianism and objectivity have not been adequately addressed by most international relationists, which I speculate to have important implications for the success or lack thereof of historical international relations theory building. To test this claim requires more than merely reviewing and critically deconstructing a body of international relations scholarship. It additionally entails a focus on the historical literature upon which such scholarship is based. The question is thus raised, what kind of "case" is required to undertake such a study? I offer three criteria: First, it would be ideal to seek out a body of scholarly literature that is of widespread interest to specialists on a diverse range of topics, such as causes of war, problems of sovereignty and law, international bargaining and mediation, identity politics, and communal strife. Second, in order to fully capture the historiological implications of a given substantive choice, the literature in question should represent an instance of "revisionism," — that is there should ideally be "two-literatures-in-one" on the topic selected: an "old" literature and a revised "new" literature. In examining the literatures diachronically, important and critical claims regarding the historical social science of the case can be teased out. This still leaves a considerable range of possibilities from which to choose. Thus, the final criterion is that the "revision" of the literature under examination be ongoing in order that predictions regarding the historiological and methodological implications of new revisionist developments can be assessed or "tested" in an original fashion. In light of these criteria, the paper examines the changes in history, sociology, and political science brought about by the "new Israeli historiography" over the past decade and a half.

During that time, two events have spurred a tremendous wave of new and provocative scholarship on the early history and pre-history of the State of Israel and the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict. 32 The first of these is the release of new Israeli archival data pertaining to the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-1949. The second has been a fundamental shift in the politics of public discourse within Israel about the country's founding history and mythology. 33 Taken together, these factors have brought about a major questioning and in some instances, an all out assault on a number of grand "myths" regarding late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century Israeli and Arab-Israeli history. 34 What is especially revealing about these developments is that they speak profoundly to all of the historiological and methodological issues discussed in the preceding section. For instance, what were the primary factors motivating and inspiring the revision of Israeli and Arab-Israeli historiography? Are the "new" Israeli history and sociology spurred by a quest for "the truth" or are they a massive conspiratorial debunking project? Who will be the likely beneficiaries of the new scholarship and in what ways will they benefit? To answer these questions requires some thoughtful reflection on the ways in which presentism and antiquarianism create both theoretical and political problems for historical research. In addition to the motivations for the new history, fascinating questions pertaining to the "objective" nature of early Israeli and Arab-Israeli history abound in the new historiographical scholarship: Was Israel the initiator or the victim of "hostilities" in 1948-1949? Which party, Israel or the Arab states, was the "stronger" during the first Arab-Israeli war? Did 700,000 Palestinians become refugees as a result of foreign enticement or because they were de facto, if not de jure, expelled? These seemingly "Dragnet" ("just the facts") questions have become increasingly more and more difficult to answer simply and "objectively." The objectivity question in Israeli historiography dovetails with the interrelated problem of historical "consumption" and selection bias. It is now possible to speak of Israeli history as being written in the "pre-Morris" and "post-Morris" paradigms, named for Benny Morris, the first and most well known "new" Israeli historian. 35 Thus, ideologically inspired Zionist scholars tend to "find what they are looking for" in their research by employing historical material and texts selected only from the "pre-Morris" paradigm. 36

The political and scholarly waves created by the New Israeli Historiography of 1948-49 have been profound, provoking revolutionary changes in settings stretching from American universities to Israeli public school classrooms, where "officially approved textbooks make plain that many of the most common Israeli beliefs are as much myth as fact." 37 At the same time, more recently released archival material is inspiring a small but growing reinterpretation of the events pertaining to the Suez Crisis/Sinai Campaign of 1956. 38 This new scholarship will undoubtedly have a similarly important impact on both popular as well as academic understandings of Arab-Israeli relations during the second decade of the State of Israel and beyond. However, Suez/Sinai 1956 has also been the subject of a number of international relations studies dealing with causes and conditions of war and foreign policy decision making 39 . The new scholarship on 1956 thus provides an excellent meta-case study by which to explore how significant changes in the historical record expose the ways in which the presentist/antiquarian dilemma and the objectivity problem plague international relations scholarship on that case. The section that follows is a preliminary component of a broader project in which the changes in the historiography of 1956 over time are assessed in more detail as are the implications of those changes for research in international relations. At the present, the narratives of the two most important original historiographers of 1956, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, are critically examined in order to raise some important questions for the nature of international relations literature on the Sinai campaign in the context of a more comprehensive and ongoing research program.


IV. Constructing 1956

In this section, I explore four prominent motifs in the history of the Sinai campaign of 1956 based on the narratives of the conflict provided by David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan. The first is the motif of Israeli uniqueness, which is divided into three interrelated subcomponents: political-strategic uniqueness; teleological messianic exceptionalism; and strategic existentialism. The second motif is one in which Israel is cast as the undisputed victim of the Arab-Israeli conflict rather than as an aggressive or potentially aggressive agent. The third motif is the hegemonic forgetting of the Palestinian question with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is cast instead as an interstate dispute between Israel and Egypt and to a lesser extent, Jordan. Finally, there is the motif of deception with regard to the Anglo-French-Israeli collusion in preparation of the 1956 war. In the following four subsections, each motif, as discussed or ignored to varying degrees by Ben-Gurion and Dayan in their texts, is critically examined and problematized in light of new evidence on and alternative political understandings of the Arab-Israeli conflict resulting from the New Israeli Historiography.


A. Uniqueness

David-Ben Gurion, Israel's first and third Prime Minister, is regarded as perhaps the greatest original historiographer of the origins of the State of Israel and of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ben-Gurion, in his various speeches and texts, provides a distinctive portrayal of the Israeli state as historically and strategically unique in the international systemic context of his time. Woven into this narrative is a messianic teleology in which the citizens of Israel are the resurrected divinely "chosen people" and that as such, the actions and deeds of the modern Israeli state are depicted as having direct implications for the existential fate of all Jews as a people. During his first address to the 1955 Israeli Knesset, Ben-Gurion remarked:

"The entire future of the Jewish people now depends on the survival of the State of Israel. And just as our security problem is different from that of other countries, our means and needs for security are greater than those of any other country. We must view the crucial difference between ourselves and our enemies with brutal clarity." 40

Here, Israel's quest for security and peace is presented as in some way qualitatively different from that of all other states, even other fledgling postcolonial states, and this difference is connected to the fate of all Jews, not just the citizens of Israel. In a speech the following August, Ben-Gurion reiterates this motif: "The situation of the State of Israel is unique. It is doubtful whether there is another state in the world which, like Israel, is subject even in normal times to constant danger to its security." 41 The essentialist foundation for these statements rests on a messianic teleology in which the historical conception of Jews as the "chosen people" is revived and intertwined with the historiography of the modern state. Ben-Gurion elaborated on this teleology in an address to 24th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on May 22, 1956:

…we shall struggle with God and men — and we shall surely gain the victory. But we cannot succeed by our own strength alone. Without the devoted assistance of world Jewry we shall not accomplish the great tasks that history has imposed upon us, or overcome the obstacles that have accumulated in our path…


Though at various times it has been given different names and titles, the messianic ideal holds that we are the Eternal People by virtue of our heritage and our destiny. This country of ours is the Chosen Land, and the period of greatness and redemption is not in the past but in the future… and the redemption of Israel is bound up with the redemption of the world, the redemption of all the peoples, by the reign of mercy and truth, justice and peace in this world of ours, peopled by men of many nations. 42

These first two components of Israeli uniqueness, while clearly understandable from the perspective of nation building, are less secure when critically reflected upon. The reasons for this are threefold. First, it is quite difficult to believe that Israel was the only state in the world that faced an "acute security threat" during 1955-56. Ben-Gurion's claim that no other states suffer threats to their security even during "normal times" runs counter to the entire Hobbesian realist tradition in international relations which is especially ironic when considering the fact that Ben-Gurion was himself very much an international relations realist. 43 Second, though there is no known mechanism to measure the relative "existence" of a "people," it is clear enough that even a total liquidation of the population of Israel — an unlikely event in any case — could not be equated with the loss of world Jewry. Third and related to this point, Ben-Gurion's teleological messianism can be neither measured nor disconfirmed. Suffice it to say that teleological models are more appropriate to theological rather than historiographical analysis.

The third component of the uniqueness motif pertains to several misplaced analogies and gross exaggerations regarding the intentions of the Arab states and the fate of Israeli existence. According to this sub-theme, the capabilities and intentions of Arab states are seen on equivalent terms as those of Hitler with regard to the Holocaust. In addition, distributions of capabilities are always referred to in terms of comparative overall populations (i.e., Israel vs. the Arab world) and not actual battlefield distributions, in which Israeli typically fielded comparable troop allotments to those of the Arab states. In his 1955 opening Knesset address, Ben-Gurion remarked that, "What Hitler did to six million helpless Jews in the ghettos of Europe will not be done by any foes of the House of Israel to a community of free Jews rooted in their own land." 44 In April of the following year, Ben-Gurion asked in a message to the public, "The conscience of the great powers failed when Hitler sent 6 million of the Jews of Europe to the slaughter. Will that conscience fail again, now that the Egyptian dictator and his allies are planning to do the same thing to Israel in its own land?" 45 The notion of a failed world conscience and strategic exaggeration is in evidence again when Ben-Gurion writes, "All the states that had raised their hands in favor of the creation of a Jewish State did not lift a finger to defend the young nation against attack by neighbors forty times the size of the Jewish community." 46 Even subsequent to Israel's dramatic victory in the Sinai campaign — in which Israel lost 171 lives — Ben-Gurion reiterated the theme of potential holocaust when addressing the IDF Officer Corps on November 14, 1956 47 : "In our own case we must remember that we are living in two different spheres — one is the Middle East. Within this sphere if we are not strong enough to stand up to the armies of our neighbors, we are liable to be wiped off the face of the earth." 48 Though this subsection focuses primarily of the narrative of David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, in his Diary of the Sinai Campaign, which is discussed in more detail below, reiterates the theme of Israeli existentialism when he writes, "For the Arabs, the question was not one of finding a solution to this or that problem; the question, for them, was the very existence of Israel. Their aim was to annihilate Israel, and this cannot be done at the conference table." 49

It is not my purpose to question either Arab hostility toward Israel or the words that were spoken by Arab leaders with regard to that hostility. However, it is interesting to critically assess the claims of Ben-Gurion and Dayan by raising the question of the extent to which the behavior of Arab leaders historically as well as during the 1950s is in any way comparable to those of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. Does the historical experience of warfare and military conduct in the Arab world indicate a likelihood of scientifically and racially systematized genocide in 1956, were it an viable option? Further, is it possible to distinguish between Arab opposition to the "state" of Israel — a political entity of political organization and control — and the ability of Jews to live in Palestine? The purpose here is not to seek for definitive answers to these questions but rather to suggest the extent to which Ben-Gurion's and Dayan's narratives are problematic rhetorical polemics rather than definitive, objective histories.



A second motif in the historiography of Ben-Gurion and Dayan regards the characterization of Israel as the undisputed victim of Arab aggression and therefore not itself an aggressive or potentially aggressive agent. In a speech on August 2, 1956, Ben-Gurion declared that "There never was nor is there now any reason for political, economic, or territorial conflict between the two neighbors [Egypt and Israel]… It never occurred to us to exploit Egypt's difficulty in order to attack her or take revenge upon her, as she did to us when our State was established" 50 Indeed, Ben-Gurion ridiculed an Egyptian radio report asserting that if Egypt did not attack Israel, Israel would attack Egypt first, suggesting that an Israeli attack would never occur, despite the fact that this is precisely how the Sinai Campaign commenced. 51 Similarly, Dayan writes in the introduction to his Diary that "If the Arab States, led by the ruler of Egypt, had not pursued a policy of increasing enmity towards her, Israel would not have resorted to arms, even when the Suez crisis between Egypt and Britain and France exploded into a military clash." 52 On the eve of the commencement of war, Dayan discussed how despite the enthusiasm and heroism of Israeli troops as fighters — traits he goes to great lengths to emphasize throughout the Diary — Israelis are themselves pacifistic:

In the measure in which I can judge, I have the feeling that the entire nation is in favour of this campaign, even thought nothing is farther from them, nor more alien to their spirit, than militaristic ambitions. The lads who showed up to their units without being called are the very idealists who went out to found moshavim and kibbutzim with the purpose of building a just society based on the simple life of manual labour. 53

The key point here is not to question whether Israel had substantial grievances against the Arab states in 1956: it did. Rather, I seek to highlight the difficulty of reconciling Ben-Gurion's and Dayan's narratives of Israel as a passive, even pacifist victim of aggression with the stark reality that it, rather than the Arab states, launched the 1956 war and proceeded to seize, occupy, and entertain the prospect of retaining the entire Sinai Peninsula, which it ultimately did following the 1967 war.


C. Forgetting

A third motif in the writings of Ben-Gurion and Dayan pertains to the portrayal of the recurring fedayun military campaign against Israel as a strictly interstate dispute between Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. To the extent that Palestinians, who comprised large numbers among the fedayun units, are mentioned at all, they are portrayed solely as agency-less automatons following blindly the directives issued from Cairo and Amman. Absent from the early historiography is any mention of the 700,000 Palestinian refugees of the 1948-1949 War and the liquidation of 416 Palestinian towns and villages during that campaign. Thus, from the outset, the historiography of the causes and tensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a purposive act of forgetting. The dispute is instead cast as one between states and their agents and therefore unrelated to the matter of refugees and the collective historical memory of the Palestinian national consciousness. This is evident when Dayan writes in the Diary of the fedayun: "In addition to their regular monthly wage of nine Egyptian pounds, fedayun troops received a cash bonus for every crossing into Israel and a further special payment for every 'successful' action — murder or sabotage." 54 According to Dayan, the primary incentive for Palestinian enlistment into the fedayun forces is monetary as opposed to nationalist or personal. In this view, the state of Egypt hires Palestinians essentially as mercenaries to carry out the Egyptian will as directed from Cairo against Israel on a purely interstate basis. Dayan elaborates: "The Israeli Government could not, of course, remain indifferent to these actions and accept them with equanimity. It was clear that there would be no end to this terrorism as long as the Arab Governments, particularly the Egyptian, could harm Israel without endangering their countries and their armies." 55 Ben-Gurion reinforces this motif when he declares, "As far as I know, this is the only country in the world whose citizens are not sure of their livers owing to the dispatch of murderers against them by the rulers of neighboring countries. I cannot imagine that there is a single country in the world that would leave its people defenseless against murderers organized by neighboring governments." 56 The murderers — Palestinian fedayun — have no agency of their own and therefore exist solely to be "organized" by the interstate adversaries, Egypt and Jordan. The entire Palestinian-Israeli dispute and its origins and consequences are thereby systematically forgotten and displaced with a revised theme of interstate strategic interaction between the aggressors — the Arab states of Egypt and Jordan — and the victim — Israel.


D. Deception

The fourth prominent motif of the historiography of Ben-Gurion and Dayan is that of deception regarding the Anglo-French collusion with Israel to prepare for and execute the Sinai campaign. In his 92-page chapter, "Suez Crisis, 1956-57," Ben-Gurion makes no reference whatsoever to the secret channels of communication and the Sevres conference of October 1956 in which France, England, and Israel planned the Sinai campaign. Dayan is more daring, writing that that,

When I explained our relationship to the Anglo-French forces, I said that if our assessment is confirmed and they do indeed attack Egypt, we should behave like the cyclist who is riding uphill when a truck chances by and he grabs hold. We should get what help we can, hanging on to their vehicle and exploiting its movement as much as possible, and only when our routes fork should we break off and proceed along our separate way with our own force alone. 57

Here, the French and British are portrayed as parties — the "truck" — unrelated to the Israeli "cyclist" who appear to communicate with Israel solely though an improvised and uncoordinated signaling scheme. That the Anglo-French-Israeli relationship was pre-scripted and quite explicitly agreed upon is completely omitted from Dayan's account, published nine years after the Sinai campaign. Thus, as aspects of the campaign were put into effect, they appear in the Diary as acts of chance under conditions of Israeli uncertainty. For instance, when Egypt refused to comply with the British and French ultimatum to de-nationalize the Suez Canal, Dayan wrote: "Egypt replied, as expected, that she was not prepared to accept the terms of the ultimatum. If this is what the British and French had in mind, they got what they wanted, and they can now move against an Egypt that refuses to comply with their demands." 58 Dayan's "if" suggests that the French and British strategy was unknown to Israel, when it is clear from subsequent accounts that the Israeli leadership was fully cognizant of that strategy during the entire course of the campaign. 59


E. Conclusion: 1956 and International Relations

The preceding four motifs in David Ben-Gurion's and Moshe Dayan's historiography of the 1956 Sinai campaign correspond to four historical questions — questions that would need to be answered in any theoretical international relations study of the 1956 conflict. Those questions are: 1) Is Israel a unique case in international relations? 2) Who started the 1956 war? 3) What were the causes of the war? 4) How was the war planned? By abiding by the historiography of Ben-Gurion and Dayan, it is possible to piece together some preliminary answers to these questions as well as the implications of those answers for international relations. First, Ben-Gurion and Dayan are fairly insistent that Israel is, in fact, a unique state historically and within the international system. If this claim were to hold, it would clearly undermine the utility of employing Israel as a case in any study aimed at generalizability. Second, Ben-Gurion and Dayan suggest, if not explicitly state, that Israel was the "victim" of the 1956 conflict. While they do not deny that Israel started the 1956 "campaign," the conflict is depicted as an Israeli response to aggression rather than an initiation of aggression in itself. This contradiction would certainly need to be resolved in any international relations analysis of the conflict. Third, Ben-Gurion and Dayan are clear that there were two primary causes of the conflict: 1) Egyptian and Jordanian state sponsorship of terrorism against Israel; and 2) Egyptian blocking of the Straits of Tiran against Israel. If this is treated as unproblematic, then the entire history and development of the Palestinian question as a potential source of the war is systematically ignored as is the important possibility that the Palestinians had motivations for violence directed against Israel other than Egyptian and Jordanian incitement. Finally, Ben-Gurion's and Dayan's depiction of the war completely extrudes all discussion of the in-depth Anglo-French collusion to plan and implement the Sinai campaign. Any IR assessment that similarly excludes this set of "facts" regarding the case would therefore be incomplete at best and deeply flawed at worst.



This paper began by discussing why historiology is important to international relations and reviewing two key problems for historical analysis: the objectivity problem and the presentist-antiquarian dilemma. In the last two sections, the significance of the New Israeli Historiography and the problems of the historiography of 1956 were introduced. The question remains: What can we conclude from these discussions? There are several points to be made in response to this question, which are in turn suggestive of avenues for additional research in the context of a broader research program into historiology and the events of 1956. With regard to the lessons of historiology for international relations, it should be clear that the "objective" character of the events of 1956 is far from established. By adopting a tempered relativist perspective on the matter, it is possible to view the historiography of the Sinai campaign and related events not as a holistic body of literature but instead as a series of diverse and problematic narratives. Changes in those narratives are reflective of changes in the availability of evidence as well as changes in the political mood of Israel over time. This indicates a second conclusion, which is that no author of history can escape the perils of presentism, be they for professional or political advancement. In the case of Ben-Gurion and Dayan, the historiography of 1956 they present has been written to serve at least three purposes: 1) To convey an image of Israel as a benevolent and peaceful state. 2) To project Israeli pride and courage in a way that fosters a confident national identity and consciousness during a critical stage in the Israeli nation building process. 3) To hegemonically ignore the Palestinian dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict and negate the possibility of an independent Palestinian national consciousness. For Ben-Gurion and Dayan, much more than simply "what happened" is at stake in the historiography of 1956. However, the masking of these motives under the guise of objective history has done damage to historical and political understanding that has taken decades to address and even forty-four years hence, many matters are still unresolved.

A third point is that in light of the problems of historical analysis in this case, it is likely, but as yet not demonstrated, that the international relations literature on 1956 is riddled with flaws in need of attention. This last point is especially important because it affects quantitative as well as qualitative historical methodologists in international relations. Problems in characterizing the basic "history" of case studies may be more obvious to those who do historical work. However, fundamental flaws in the "coding" of historical cases in major databases stemming from an inability to account for historiological problems could have far-reaching consequences for every study that employs such databases. This leads directly to the implications of this paper for future research. This paper is the first step in an ongoing project to critically assess the historiography of the Sinai campaign and its implications for IR. Thus, two additional tasks are clearly in order: 1) An in-depth examination of new historiographical literature on the conflict published during the past several years in light of newly released archival material. 2) An analysis of international relations research on 1956 in light of the changing historiography of the conflict. Viewed in the context of this broader research framework, it is hoped that this paper has shed some preliminary light on the problems faced by historical international research and set the stage for continued work in the effort to resolve those problems.



Note 1: Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune (New York: Ace Books, 1985), pp. 70 and 361. Back.

Note 2: See International Security, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer 1997). Back.

Note 3: This phrase is actually borrowed from the title of one of the volume's contributions. See Stephen H. Haber, David M. Kennedy, and Stephen D. Krasner, "Brothers under the Skin: Diplomatic History and International Relations," International Security, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer 1997). Back.

Note 4: Peter Novick cites the distinction between historiology and historiography as follows: historiology refers to the study and analysis of the way in which history is practiced; historiography is the description of that practice. In contemporary common parlance, historiography generally has taken on the meaning originally ascribed to historiology. In this paper, the two terms are thus used interchangeably. See Novick, That Noble Dream (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 8, footnote #6. Back.

Note 5: See Terrence J. McDonald, Ed., The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1996). Notable exceptions include Barry Buzan and Richard Little, "The Idea of 'International System': Theory Meets History, International Political Science Review, Vol. 15, No. 3 (1994); Buzan and Little, "Reconceptualizing Anarchy: Structural Realism Meets World History," European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 2, No. 4 (1996); Donald J. Puchala, "The Pragmatics of International History," Mershon International Studies Review, No. 39 (1995); Brian C. Schmidt, The Political Discourse of Anarchy (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1998); and Thomas W. Smith, History and International Relations (London: Routledge, 1999). Back.

Note 6: At least, this is how it appears to many qualitative methodologists. It is probably more accurate to speak in terms of a "trifurcation" among qualitative historical, quantitative large-n statistical, and formal rational choice schools, each of which is increasingly self-segregated from the others. Back.

Note 7: The term "consume" here refers to the view held by many political scientists that history is a database from which information can be picked and chosen -- i.e., "consumed" -- to construct empirical case studies. While this paper does not necessarily hold this view, it is important to acknowledge that many in political science do. Back.

Note 8: James Kurth, "Inside the Cave: The Banality of I.R. Studies," The National Interest, No. 53 (Fall 1998). Back.

Note 9: Kurth, "Inside the Cave," p. 7. In fairness, Waltz does not expressly advocate the spread of nuclear weapons. Rather, he argues against the conventional wisdom that their spread would be disastrous. See Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons (New York: W.W. Norton, 1995). Back.

Note 10: In other words, the unwritten norm in political science is that history is to be studied solely to solve problems, not for its "own" sake. The study of history on its own terms is the task of the historian. Back.

Note 11: See Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May, Thinking in Time (New York: The Free Press, 1986); and Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton University Press, 1976) Chapter 6, "How Decision-Makers Learn from History." Back.

Note 12: Stanley Hoffman, Gulliver's Troubles (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968), p. 135, cited in Jervis, Perception and Misperception, p. 217. Back.

Note 13: Miles Kahler, "Inventing International Relations: International Relations Theory after 1945," in Doyle and Ikenberry, Eds., New Thinking in International Relations Theory (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997), p. 42. Back.

Note 14: R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (New York: Galaxy, 1963 (1946)), p. 215. Back.

Note 15: Collingwood, The Idea of History, p. 218. Back.

Note 16: This problem, i.e., the "objectivity" problem, is addressed in some detail in the following section. Back.

Note 17: Keith Jenkins, Why History? (New York: Routledge, 1999), p. 3. Back.

Note 18: Collingwood, The Idea of History, p. 205. Back.

Note 19: See Novick, That Noble Dream. See also, Michael Bentley, Modern Historiography (London: Routledge, 1999); and Puchala, "The Pragmatics of International History." Back.

Note 20: Baruch Kimmerling characterizes the view of objectivity in the historical research of "professionalized academic historiography and sociography": "Apart from their routine activities, they function as an ultimate 'supreme historical court,' which deciphers from all the accumulated 'pieces of the past' the 'true' collective memories which are appropriate for inclusion in the canonical national historical narrative." Kimmerling himself disputes the literalness of this characterization and argues instead that historiography is not "autonomous from its cultural, ideological and political milieu." Kimmerling, "Academic History Caught in the Cross-Fire: The Case of Israeli-Jewish Historiography," History and Memory, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 1995), p. 57. Back.

Note 21: Jack S. Levy, "Too Important to Leave to the Other: History and Political Science in the Study of International Relations," International Security, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer 1997), p. 26 (footnote #10). Levy uses this description specifically to characterize the 19th century Rankian school of objective history. Levy's joke is itself ironic in that Levy himself anachronistically transposes the 20th century "Dragnet" view back in time onto the 19th century Rankians. Back.

Note 22: Collingwood, The Idea of History, pp. 234-235. Back.

Note 23: Collingwood, The Idea of History, pp. 257-258. Back.

Note 24: Jenkins, Why History?, p. 158. Back.

Note 25: Discussed in Jenkins, Why History?, p. 77. Back.

Note 26: Anita Shapira, for instance, in a critique of "the postmodernist influence on history" characterizes that influence as follows: "there are no events, people, reality, but only texts and their interpretation. Thus, every text is equal in value to every other, and each construct is equally legitimate." Shapira, "Politics and Collective Memory: The Debate over the 'New Historians' in Israel," History and Memory, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 1995), p. 25. Back.

Note 27: Thus, Rorty, paraphrased by Keith Jenkins, "can say that, whilst there may indeed be an actual 'world' underlying all such versions, we can now accept that the world is inaccessible and that versions are all we have." Jenkins, Why History?, p. 17. Back.

Note 28: The potential danger lies in the assertion of privileged claims to objective historical knowledge accessible only by powerful individuals or groups able to manipulate truth claims as a source of power. In a world in which all were skeptical of objective knowledge, such claims would hold little sway. Rorty alludes to this danger when he asserts: "anti-pragmatists (and anti-postmodernists) fool themselves when they think that by insisting that moral truths are objective -- are true independent of human needs, interests, history -- they have provided us with weapons against the bad guys. For the fascists can, and often do, reply that they entirely agree that moral truth is objective, eternal and universal… (and fascist). Dewey made much of the fact that traditional notions of 'objectivity' and 'universality' were useful to the bad guys, and he had a point." Richard Rorty, "Just One More Species Doing Its Best," London Review of Books, July, 1991, p. 6, cited in Jenkins, Why History, p. 27. Back.

Note 29: This is extremely similar to the position of Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 classic, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn asserts that "The scientist can have no recourse above or beyond what he sees with his eyes and instruments. If there were some higher authority by recourse to which his vision might be shown to have shifted, then that authority would itself become the sources of his data, and the behavior of his vision would become a source of problems." (The University of Chicago Press, 1962), p. 114. Kuhn contends that there is, in actuality, no such higher authority, the existence of would indicate the nature of the objective, so all that can be known for certain is contingent on human tools and senses. That said, it would be incorrect to deem Kuhn an untempered subjectivist for the Kuhnian paradigm is a quintessential embodiment of the intersubjective community described above. Back.

Note 30: Collingwood, The Idea of History, pp. 260. Back.

Note 31: Ian S. Lustick, "History, Historiography, and Political Science: Multiple Records and the Problem of Selection Bias," American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No. 3 (September 1996). Back.

Note 32: For an excellent, concise overview of the New Israeli Historiography, see Ian S. Lustick, "Israeli History: Who is Fabricating What?" Orbis, Autumn, 1997, pp. 157-162. See also, Steven Heydemann, "Revisionism and the Reconstruction of Israeli History," in Ian S. Lustick and Barry Rubin, Eds., Critical Essays on Israeli Society, Politics, and Culture (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1991); Daniel Levy, "The Future of the Past: Historiographical Disputes and Competing Memories in Germany and Israel," History and Theory, Vol. 38, No. 1 (February 1999); Jerome Slater, "The Significance of Israeli Historical Revisionism," in Walter P. Zenner and Russell A. Stone, Eds., Critical Essays on Israeli Social Issues and Scholarship (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1994); and contributions to the special issue, "Israeli Historiography Revisited," History and Memory, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 1995). Back.

Note 33: See New York Times, "History Textbooks Replace Myths with Facts," August 14, 1999, p. A1; and New York Times, "Israel: The Revised Edition," November 14, 1999, Section 7, p. 6. Back.

Note 34: Ilan Pappe points out four myths in particular whose validity has come under attack: 1) That the Israeli forces in 1948 were heavily outmanned and strategically "inferior" to those of the Arabs. 2) That the "world" was "against" Israel during 1948. 3) That the Palestinian refugee crisis was caused by Arab, not Israeli, policies. And 4) The myth "of Arab intransigence in the face of repeated Israeli peace gestures during and after the war." Pappe, "Critique and Agenda: The Post-Zionist Scholars in Israel," History and Memory, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 1995), pp. 76-78. Similarly, Jerome Slater notes three myths that have been challenged by the new historiography: 1) That "Jews were innocent, largely non-violent victims of fanatical Palestinian violence and terrorism." 2) That "Israel has been a defensive, status-quo state which seeks only peace and security and has always been prepared for any reasonable compromise -- particularly territorial compromise or partition -- to achieve it." And 3) "…that Arabs have never reconciled themselves to the existence of Israeli, have refused all compromise, and with the single exception of Egypt since the mid-1970s, have sought the destruction of Israel." Slater, "The Significance of Israeli Historical Revisionism," pp. 180-81, 186. Back.

Note 35: See Lustick, "Israeli History," p. 158. Back.

Note 36: The "new" or "post-Zionist" historians can not be criticized for the same error in that the new paradigm is fundamentally based on a comparison of both the old and the new historical sources. Back.

Note 37: New York Times, "History Textbooks Replace Myths with Facts." Back.

Note 38: See, for example, Motti Golani, Israel in Search of War (Portland, OR: Sussex, 1998). Back.

Note 39: See Michael Brecher, Decision's in Israel's Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975); Jack S. Levy and Joseph R. Grochal, "Democracy and Preventive War: Israel and the 1956 Sinai Campaign," Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA), September 2-5; 1999, David Rodman, "War Initiation: The Case of Israel," The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 20, No. 4 (December 1997); Randall L. Schweller, "Domestic Structure and Preventive War," World Politics, Vol. 44, No. 2 (1992); and Jonathan Shimshoni, Israel and Conventional Deterrence (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988). Back.

Note 40: Text of first Knesset address on November 2, 1955, reproduced in David Ben-Gurion, Israel: A Personal History (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1971), p. 447. Back.

Note 41: Speech given on August 2, 1956, Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 462. Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 488. Back.

Note 42: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 448. Back.

Note 43: Ben-Gurion clearly indicates his realist orientation in innumerable speeches and writings in which he articulates out three core assumptions: 1) security is the primary responsibility of the state; 2) power is the basis for order and security; and 3) states are the primary actors in international politics, all positions that are clearly consistent with both classical and structural realism. Back.

Note 44: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 448. Back.

Note 45: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 476. Back.

Note 46: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 454. Emphasis retained from the original. Back.

Note 47: Ben-Gurion puts the figure at 171 (Ben-Gurion, Israel). Motti Golani puts the figure at 176 (Golani, Israel in Search of War). Back.

Note 48: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 515. Back.

Note 49: Moshe Dayan, Diary of the Sinai Campaign (Jerusalem: Steimatzky's Agency, 1965), p.15. Back.

Note 50: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 461. Back.

Note 51: Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 464. Back.

Note 52: Dayan, Diary, p. 3. Back.

Note 53: Dayan, Diary, p. 75. Back.

Note 54: Dayan, Diary, p. 5. Back.

Note 55: Dayan, Diary, p. 8. Back.

Note 56: Speech to Knesset, 10/15/56, Ben-Gurion, Israel, p. 498. Back.

Note 57: Dayan, Diary, p. 64. Back.

Note 58: Dayan, Diary, p. 99. Back.

Note 59: For instance, Motti Golani characterizes the French-Israeli collusion as follows: "The really far-reaching agreements, which bore such a weighty military significance in practical terms, were concluded prior to the Suez Crisis. Those agreements created the infrastructure for operational cooperation between France and Israel. Joint working procedures had been hammered out, a liaison system put in place, and in Israel the defense establishment had been given exclusivity with regard to relations with France, bypassing the foreign Ministry. Above and beyond this, the Israeli negotiators' success in Paris had reinforced the substantive posture authored by Dayan and Peres -- a posture which called for Israel to provoke war." Israel in Search of War, p. 36. Back.