Source: (2003) In John Torpey, ed., Politics and the past: on repairing historical injustices. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Pp. 91-102.

The demand that nations should act morally by acknowledging their past historical injustices is a new phenomenon, asserts Elazar Barkan. It differs from the xe2x80x9crealpolitikxe2x80x9d xe2x80x93the perspective that realism rather than ideology or ethics should drive politics xe2x80x93 that has characterized international diplomacy. Yet it is the case that since around the middle of the twentieth century morality and justice have increasingly received attention as political questions. Hence, the idea of restitution to past victims of injustices has become a major part of national politics and international diplomacy. Accompanying this historical change is also attention to the identification and role of perpetrators of such injustice. A number of issues arise from these developments. For example, has restitution for gross historical injustices, both domestically and internationally, become a significant trend in contemporary politics? If so, in what way? To explore all of this, Barkan first provides an historical overview of restitution as a cultural, political, and legal concept in the twentieth century. He then looks at the growing political willingness to admit historical guilt and offer an apology. This leads to consideration of issues pertaining to the challenges and ambiguities in assessing and judging historical injustices.