Israeli pre-transitional justice and the nakba law

Yoav Kapshuk, Lisa Strömbom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pre-transitional justice activities that expose past injustices during entrenched conflicts can incite strong reactions among actors who feel threatened by or dislike such activities, and who thus attempt to silence controversial truths. This article illuminates how attempts to silence controversial truths, in parallel with shutting down debate, can also have the unintended outcome of enlarging public discourse on previously marginalised issues. Thus, paradoxically, efforts to curb freedom of expression sometimes result instead in an expanded public capacity to debate previously silenced truths about the conflict. We conduct a case study of reactions to pre-transitional justice in Israeli society focusing on the so-called Nakba Law, enacted in 2011. Through interviews with members of the non-governmental organisation Zochrot, politicians, teachers and media persons, we first show the relationship between pre-transitional justice and enacting the Nakba Law. We then demonstrate that while the Nakba Law indeed aimed to hamper freedom of expression, it also enabled increased public knowledge about the meaning of Nakba. Our theoretical proposition regarding this paradox, in this case activated by instigating new memory laws, is highly relevant to other conflicts-in-resolution that experience pre-transitional justice processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-323
Number of pages19
JournalIsrael Law Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 13 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Nakba
  • Nakba Law
  • ontological security
  • pre-transitional justice
  • transitional justice (TJ)
  • truth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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