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View Diary: Determining Historical Consensus on Israeli Ethnic Cleansing (104 comments)

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  •  This sounds familiar. (2+ / 0-)
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    Eric S, zemblan

    As the Kossack who had the argument with Litho that seems to have prompted this diary, I really can't just walk by this.

    The objective here is to prove that there exists a consensus among historians, or Israeli historians, supporting Litho's oft-stated view that Israel engaged in ethnic cleansing in 1948. Since that view is foundational to Litho's view of that country, he needs there to be such a consensus. I've challenged that, hence, this diary.

    The problems with this diary in establishing that are manifold. The methodology is simple: Litho counts citations of a revisionist in the SSCI. It's not clear to me what determinative value this discerns, since the nature of those citations - supporting, refuting - is itself unclear. It's also unknown whether other works by non-revisionist historians have higher citation numbers.

    There are 228 such citations. Of these, Litho cites four, or under 2%. They are all supportive of the revisionist historian she examines, rather, his conclusions, therefore, a consensus must exist.

    That's roughly on a par with the methodological subtlety embraced by creation scientists. The data set - Morris' citations only - has no control group, such as an equivalent search and numbering of Efraim Karsh's citations. And since the selection of texts he quotes isn't random, but presumably selected to prove a point, the <2% that make it into the analysis are not what is known as a 'representative sample'. The quotes would need to be randomized, and there would need to be more of them, for that to be true. Even if they were randomized, which I doubt, there would still be the unaddressed question of the margin of error inherent in using a subsample.</p>

    Therefore, just from a methodological point of view, Litho's claim of a consensus must be rejected. That's the peril of using, but not understanding, the statistical model.

    If Litho wanted to do a statistical analysis of his concept, he'd have to do this: first, determine the data universe of all historians publishing on this subject. Then, pick a time interval to study - say, 2005, just as an example, because that data interval is closed. Then, define consensus as a numerical value - 80% of approving or neutral citations in the entire data universe, say. Then, compile your lists of cites. That's your first real dataset, giving an indication of the impact of the various historians. Then, do a content analysis of your texts, and group your cites further into supporting/refuting/neutral. If the supporting and neutral citations of revisionist historians reach the value you have set as indicating consensus, the point is proven. It's possible, if the selection is randomized, to narrow down the content analysis part of the study, but that would produce a significant margin of error and be considered unsound research, depending on how sound the randomization is.

    What Litho produces here, as the comparison with my theoretical research design illustrates, is not in any way, shape or form evidence of consensus. It's sloppy scholarship and cherry-picked data of the kind Ilan Pappé is often accused of. What this diary proves, rather, is that Litho's bias supersedes and overwhelms his integrity as a scholar.


    •  You give yourself too much credit (2+ / 0-)
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      StupidAsshole, npbeachfun

      As the Kossack who had the argument with Litho that seems to have prompted this diary, I really can't just walk by this.

      This diary originated in an ongoing debate over issues raised in a previous diary, which itself had originated in response to a comment by JNEREBEL in a still earlier diary.

      As for the substance of your criticism of the diary, it would make sense if my study had been quantitative.  My study, as should be clear from reading it, is unfortunately for you qualitative.

      My method, as I explained in the diary, was to search for cited references to Benny Morris's work.  The implicit assumption there was that any serious ongoing controversy over the validity of his findings would have to appear in such a search.

      I used default search criteria, so my results were returned in reverse chronological order with the most recent articles citing Morris appearing first.

      I rejected articles from clear left-wing and pro-Palestinian sources, such as Monthly Review and the Journal of Palestine Studies, as I assumed these would agree with the ethnic cleansing thesis on ideological grounds.  I also did not include in the diary sources I could not consult on line and others which did not appear particularly relevant to the discussion, nor did I include book reviews.  I chose not to include articles published prior to 2005, but that was only because it was getting late and I wanted to go to bed.  You are free to continue reviewing, if you wish, earlier articles to see if you can find substantial changes.

      SSCI returned 23 articles published between 2005 and the present.  Of those 23, I reviewed five, using the criteria described above.  What follows is the complete list, taken directly from their site with only minor formatting changes in the interest of saving space.  Knock yourself out finding articles in there that differ substantially from the consensus I've already demonstrated exists:

      1. Abu-Manneh B

      Israel in the US empire

      1. Kaufman A

      Between Palestine and Lebanon: Seven Shi'i villages as a case study of boundaries, identities, and conflict
      MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL 60 (4): 685-706 FAL 2006

      1. Gabiam N

      Negotiating rights: Palestinian refugees and the protection gap
      ANTHROPOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 79 (4): 717-730 FAL 2006

      1. Lagerquist P

      Vacation from history: Ethnic cleansing as the Club Med experience
      JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES 36 (1): 43-53 FAL 2006

      1. Mjoset L

      A case study of a case study - Strategies of generalization and specification in the study of Israel as a single case
      INTERNATIONAL SOCIOLOGY 21 (5): 735-766 SEP 2006

      1. Mearsheimer JJ, Walt SM

      The Israel lobby and US foreign policy
      MIDDLE EAST POLICY 13 (3): 29-87 SEP 2006

      1. Adamson FB

      Crossing borders - International migration and national security
      INTERNATIONAL SECURITY 31 (1): 165+ SUM 2006

      1. Wood EJ

      Variation in sexual violence during war
      POLITICS & SOCIETY 34 (3): 307-341 SEP 2006

      1. Heller J

      Alternative narratives and collective memories: Israel's new historians and the use of historical context
      MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES 42 (4): 571-586 JUL 2006

      1. Tzfadia E

      Public housing as control: Spatial policy of settling immigrants in Israeli development towns
      HOUSING STUDIES 21 (4): 523-537 JUL 2006

      1. Gottheil F

      UNRWA and moral hazard
      MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES 42 (3): 409-421 MAY 2006

      1. Downes AB

      Desperate times, desperate measures - The causes of civilian victimization in war
      INTERNATIONAL SECURITY 30 (4): 152+ SPR 2006

      1. Reeds LA

      Sixty years in limbo: The duty of host states to integrate palestinian refugees under customary international law
      NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 81 (1): 351-384 APR 2006

      1. Abu-Saad I, Champagne D

      Introduction - A historical context of Palestinian Arab education
      AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST 49 (8): 1035-1051 APR 2006

      1. Jabareen YT

      Law and education - Critical perspectives on Arab Palestinian education in Israel
      AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST 49 (8): 1052-1074 APR 2006

      1. Kadish A, Sela A

      Myths and historiography of the 1948 Palestine War revisited: The case of Lydda
      MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL 59 (4): 617-634 FAL 2005

      1. Tzfadia E

      Academic discourse on making new towns in Israel: three approaches in social science

      1. Blecher R

      Citizens without sovereignty: Transfer and ethnic cleansing in Israel

      1. Beinin J

      Forgetfulness for memory: The limits of the new Israeli history
      JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES 34 (2): 6-23 WIN 2005

      1. Leibler A, Breslau D

      The uncounted: Citizenship and exclusion in the Israeli census of 1948
      ETHNIC AND RACIAL STUDIES 28 (5): 880-902 SEP 2005

      1. Blomeley K

      The 'new historians' and the origins of the Arab/Israeli conflict

      1. Nassar I

      The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited
      POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY 120 (1): 176-177 SPR 2005

      1. Selby J

      Post-zionist perspectives on contemporary Israel
      NEW POLITICAL ECONOMY 10 (1): 107-120 MAR 2005

      •  Again... (1+ / 0-)
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        zemblan I've demonstrated with my critique, your approach is inherently flawed. You have no control, and you don't even offer a definition of this elusive consensus. Anyone with any background in the social sciences can see that 'research' aiming to prove something that hasn't been defined is missing the key component. You haven't even established, now that I think of it, that you're citing only historians, the consensus opinion of whom you seek to determine.

        What you do instead is a general search for citations of a revisionist, and then you deduce from the fact that these exist that his views are shared by a significant majority of an academic subgroup you don't have any tools to identify.

        For example, just to choose a few of your citations,

          1.  Abu-Manneh B

        Israel in the US empire

          4.  Lagerquist P

        Vacation from history: Ethnic cleansing as the Club Med experience
        JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES 36 (1): 43-53 FAL 2006

         13.  Reeds LA

        Sixty years in limbo: The duty of host states to integrate palestinian refugees under customary international law
        NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 81 (1): 351-384 APR 2006

         17.  Tzfadia E

        Academic discourse on making new towns in Israel: three approaches in social science

        ...are all probably not historians.

        As to quantitative versus qualitative research, it's unclear how one could establish consensus, inherently a concept with a quantitative component, with a qualitative  approach. Not, as noted, that you ever define what you mean by consensus, or what anyone else has written about it as a concept.

        Do I really need to go on?

        This is what you deduce:

        Historical consensus does not mean that all historians agree on all particulars.  It does, however, mean that most historians agree on the broad outlines.  In the case of the New Historians, their critique of the traditional Zionist narratives of the founding of Israel has come to dominate the field of Israeli history.

        Your approach does not allow you to reach that conclusion.

        If this effort were handed in as a paper in any university in America, it would be flunked. Nobody can or should confuse this diary with research; it is manifestly agitprop, and frankly not a very well-executed example thereof.

        •  If I were handing it in as a paper (2+ / 0-)
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          StupidAsshole, npbeachfun

          I would spend more than two hours on line doing it.

          Your problem with my method is that you don't like the results.  What my investigation produced was a wide cross-section of scholars, across academic disciplines and writing in peer-reviewed journals, who reproduce the New Historian approach to the 1948 war.

          I found no scholar writing anything that fundamentally challenged the New Historian approach, even though my sample included one article that overtly sought to criticize the New Historians.

          You would think that if a particular historical interpretation were the subject of serious controversy, a citation review of the most prominent scholar associated with that interpretation should return recent articles questioning it.  There was in fact one article in the five sampled that did question the interpretation, but on further analysis it resulted that article accepted so much of the interpretation that its criticisms turned out to be insignificant.  The other four articles sampled at the least uncritically accepted the interpretation and in one case provided further corroborating primary evidence to support it.

          That's a problem for your side, MBNYC, whether you admit it or not.

          Now the ball is in your court.  Find me recent stuff that substantially challenges the New Historians.  Find me anything, but make it scholarly, and make it peer-reviewed.

          •  Nah. (2+ / 0-)
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            Eric S, zemblan

            The headline of your diary is

            Determining Historical Consensus on Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

            What I'm doing here is not a critique of your results, but of your method. I have demonstrated that your methodology was inadequate to producing the results you claim. That's entirely sufficient for my purposes without having to write a paper of my own, thank you very much. You, by contrast, are being simply measured by your own claims, and found severely wanting.

            Considering that you recently referred to me as an amateur,  the flaws of method you've demonstrated here are certainly entertaining, one might add. Furthermore, with a view towards the hostility you've shown towards me personally over the last few days, my critiques here can serve as an example that disagreement is possible without sinking to quite the rhetorical depths you've recently explored.

        •  do you think- (2+ / 0-)
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          litho, StupidAsshole

          we still need to study global warming: Is the Jury still out?

          "people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same" George Orwell~1984

          by npbeachfun on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 01:57:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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