Who fired first? Students' construction of meaning from one textbook account of the Israeli-Arab conflict

Dana Porat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In this article, I present three students' and one parent's reading of an excerpt from a textbook on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The excerpt is an account of a skirmish between Jews and Arabs in 1920, symbolizing for Jews the first bloody encounter between the two sides. While all students read the same excerpt, they use different mechanisms in their reading process to decipher the text, and come to different historical conclusions about the meaning of the text. The three mechanisms of reading identified in the article are "horizon of expectations," "the gap in the text," and "narrative integration." While "horizon of expectations" focuses on the beliefs that readers bring with them to the textual account, "the gap in the text" centers on how meaning is made in the process of reading. Finally, "narrative integration" highlights the way in which text readers integrate the account they read with other information they acquired earlier. In the conclusion of the article I compare the three processes readers use in their engagement with the text.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)251-271
Number of pages21
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*This research is part of the Text to Texture Project, funded by the Spencer Foundation. The study also received support from the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This support is gratefully acknowledged; however, I bear sole responsibility for the data presented, the statements made, and the views expressed in this article. I thank the participants who gave of their time to the project and I also wish to thank my research assistants Hagit Harel, Michal Mendel, and Daniel Weil for their dedicated work. Finally, I wish to thank Eyal Naveh (the author of the textbook discussed in this paper), who reviewed parts of this paper, for his friendly assistance.


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