Palestinians, Israelis, 1948, & Now: On Researching, Teaching, and Asserting the Reality of the Nakba

Jun 21 2021


Co-sponsored by Project48

Palestinians, Israelis, 1948, & Now: On Researching, Teaching, and Asserting the Reality of the Nakba 

Monday, June 21st

featuring Leena Dallasheh (Humboldt State University), Shay Hazkani (University of Maryland), Sherene Seikaly (University of California, Santa Barbara) with Sarah Anne Minkin (FMEP).

Listen to this program as a podcast here and subscribe to the “Occupied Thoughts” podcast on iTunes | Soundcloud |Spotify

In recent weeks the world’s attention turned to Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods fighting forced displacement from their longtime homes — displacement that, in the eyes of many Palestinians, is part of an ongoing process of dispossession that started in 1948 and continues through the present day. Palestinians call this process of displacement, dispossession, and exile “the Nakba” – Arabic for “the catastrophe” –  which refers to the estimated 750,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their homes and lands during the creation of the state of Israel.

For decades, stories of the Nakba – both personal experiences and an historical accounting of facts – have been systematically hidden, discredited, or ignored. Scholars, both Palestinian and non-Palestinian, have struggled to document and establish that history and challenge the denialism and mythologies – like the myths that “the Arabs” intended to “push the Jews into the sea,” that Palestinians left their homes at the behest of Arab armies, or that pre-1948, Arab residents of Palestine had no shared Palestinian identity or real links to the land – that have flourished in its place.

In this context, we have invited three leading scholars of the Nakba to talk about how they approach researching, writing, and teaching this history — and the importance of amplifying personal, individual stories as a critical point of access to understanding nationalism, colonialism, citizenship, and the construction of racial categories in the Middle East:

  • Leena Dallasheh (Humboldt State University), an expert on the Palestinians who became Israeli citizens and their negotiations with the Israeli state over their rights and identities.
  • Shay Hazkani (University of Maryland), who has fought for public and scholarly access to Israeli archives, recently published a social history of the 1948 war based on personal letters written by Jewish and Arab soldiers that were secretly copied by the Israeli authorities.
  • Sherene Seikaly (University of California, Santa Barbara), a scholar of capitalism in the Modern Middle East, discovered and accidentally “met” her great-grandfather, a businessman who became a refugee in the Nakba, through archival research.

Resources shared in this event: 

About our experts:

On the Israeli archives, the Palestinian archive within them, and struggles to access the archives: 

On Palestinian citizens of Israel:

Plan Dalet:

On Zochrot:

Video referenced by Dr. Seikaly in which Jewish Israeli participant in Flag March says on camera: “The second Nakba in on its way! The second Nakba will send you all to refugee camps!” –>

On myths around 1948 and looting:

Atlas of Palestine 1871-1877 by Palestinian historian and cartographer Salman Abu-Sitta –>

Participant Bios

Leena Dallasheh is an associate professor of history at Humboldt State University. Her research focuses on the history of Palestine/Israel, with a particular interest in Palestinians who became citizens of Israel in 1948. She is currently finishing a manuscript on the social and political history of Nazareth from 1940 to 1966, tracing how Palestinians who remained in Israel in 1948 negotiated their incorporation in the state, affirming their rights as citizens and their identity as Palestinian. Her article “Troubled Waters: Governing Water and Struggling for Citizenship in Nazareth” appeared in IJMES 47 (2015). She also published articles and reviews in JPS and edited collections. She received her PhD in the joint History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies program at NYU. Before coming to NYU, she received a law degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Shay Hazkani is an Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research and teaching focuses on the social and cultural history of Palestine/Israel, and Middle Eastern Jews. He is the author of Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021). Shay received a PhD in History and Judaic studies from New York University, his Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University. He has been involved in various struggles over archival declassification policies in Israel. In 2019, he petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court together with the Association for Civil Rights, to compel the Israeli domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, to open its archives to the public. Prior to his academic career, Shay worked as a journalist covering the West Bank and Israeli military.

Sherene Seikaly is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Seikaly’s Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2016) explores how Palestinian capitalists and British colonial officials used economy to shape territory, nationalism, the home, and the body. Her second book, From Baltimore to Beirut: On the Question of Palestine focuses on a Palestinian man who was at once a colonial officer and a colonized subject, an enslaver and a refugee. His trajectory from nineteenth century mobility across Baltimore and Sudan to twentieth century immobility in Lebanon places the question of Palestine in a global history of race, capital, slavery, and dispossession. Seikaly is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Academic Senate, the University of California, Santa Barbara; the Harold J. Plous Award at UCSB; and the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship. She currently serves as co-editor of Journal of Palestine Studies and co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya.


Sarah Anne Minkin, PhD, is expert on the intersection between Israeli civil society and Palestinian civil rights and human rights advocacy as well as the ways that American Jews approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She leads FMEP’s programming, works to deepen FMEP’s relationships with existing and potential grantees, and builds relationships with new partners in the philanthropic community. She is an affiliated faculty member at University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Right-Wing Studies.


Project48 provides educational material and programming about the Palestinian Nakba that centers the voices, experiences, and scholarship of those directly impacted by generational displacement and denial of rights in their homeland.