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Who, What, When
Creative Thought at Work
Impasse in Israel?
Revolutionizing Israeli historiography, as the New Yorker put it, is just one effect of the writings of Benny Morris, who was Skidmore’s Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence last fall.
Morris is a professor in Ben Gurion University’s department of Middle East studies. It was his 1988 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949, that made waves with its new, more complex view of Israel’s troubled founding. His prolific research and commentaries since then have often provoked objections from both Zionists and Liberals. His recent publications include 1948, A History of the First Arab-Israeli War and One State, Two States; Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict.
Morris’s residency also included teaching a five-week, one-credit course on the Arab-Zionist conflict from 1881 to 1948. Skidmore history professor Jennifer Delton, who sat in, reports that his lectures had some students “riveted.” She says his sharing of primary sources from the British Archives “was a real treat from a historian’s perspective,” and she adds that his frank assertions of his own points of view (along with his acknowledgments of opposing views and explanations of his reasons for rejecting them) were “quite refreshing.” —SR
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