Cite: Peled-Elhanan, Legitimation of Massacres

Peled-Elhanan, Nurit. “Legitimation of Massacres in Israeli School History Books,” Discourse & Society 21,4 (2010): 377-404.



This article examines reports about massacres in eight Israeli secondary school history books, published between 1998 and 2009. It aims to show that massacres, or rather their outcome, are legitimated in these books through a complex rhetoric that involves both verbal and visual means.

The article uses theories and analytical tools of Critical Discourse Analysis, Social Semiotics and Multimodal Analysis to examine the linguistic, discursive, generic and multimodal strategies of legitimation employed in these school books. The analysis is based primarily on the works of Van Dijk (1997), Martin Rojo and Van Dijk (1997),Van Leeuwen (2000, 2007, 2008), Van Leeuwen and Wodak (1999), Hodge and Kress (1993) and Coffin (1997, 2006). The article argues that Israeli mainstream school books implicitly legitimate the killing of Palestinians as an effective tool to preserve a secure Jewish state with a Jewish majority, and suggests that this legitimation prepares Israeli youth to be good soldiers and to carry on the practices of occupation in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.



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