Abstract & Full Text

The typical collective memories of societies involved in intractable conflicts play a
major role in the eruption and continuation of the conflicts, whereas the positive
transformation of these memories to being less self-serving promotes peacemaking. A
major factor that inhibits such transformation is self-censorship. Self-censorship, practiced
by members of a society’s formal institutions, inhibits the dissemination of
alternative, more accurate narratives of the conflict that may change dominating biased
conflict-supporting memories. Despite the importance of formal self-censorship in
maintaining collective memories of conflicts, little empirical and theoretical research
has examined this phenomenon. The present study addresses this omission. It examines
the self-censorship practiced from 1949 to 2004 in 3 formal Israeli institutions (the
National Information Center, the IDF/army, and the Ministry of Education) regarding
the main historical event of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the causes of the 1948
Palestinian exodus. This is done by analyzing all of these institutions’ publications
produced throughout the 56-year research period and interviewing their key position
holders. The results show that the institution gatekeepers practiced self-censorship for
5 reasons: garnering international support, mobilizing citizens, the impact of Zionist
ideology, institutional norms, and fear of sanctions. The empirical findings are used to
elicit theoretical insights, such as a definition for formal self-censorship, the difference
between self-censorship practiced by gatekeepers (from formal and informal institutions)
and that practiced by ordinary individuals, the 5 reasons for such self-censorship
Rafi Nets,
Oct 9, 2016, 4:57 AM