Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood by Idith Zertal

By Idith Zertal

The ghost of the Holocaust is ever found in Israel, within the lives and nightmares of
the survivors, and within the absence of the sufferers. during this compelling and disturbing
analysis, Idith Zertal, a number one member of the recent new release of revisionist
historians in Israel, offers with the methods Israel has appropriated and used the
memory of the Holocaust with a view to outline and legitimize its life and
politics. Drawing on quite a lot of resources, a lot of them new, the author
exposes the pivotal function of the Holocaust in Israel’s public sphere, in its venture of
nation-building, its politics of energy, and in its notion of the clash with the
Palestinians and armed forces career in their territories. Zertal argues that the
centrality of the Holocaust in Israeli lifestyles has ended in a tradition of dying and victim-
hood which permeates Israeli society, its rituals, and its self-image. this is often an
important and penetrating publication which bargains a wholly new standpoint on
Israel, its background, and the development of nationwide identity.

IDITH ZERTAL was once for a few years a cultural and political journalist and essayist
in Israel. She is now educating background and cultural reports on the Interdisciplinary
Center, Herzliya and on the Hebrew collage of Jerusalem. Her past pub-
lications contain From disaster to Power (1998) and The Lords of the Land (in
Hebrew: 2004).

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Sample text

Marek Edelman (trans. Joanna Stasinka and Lawrence Weschler), New York 1986, p. 6. ’’ Those who heard him speak nodded and noted, ‘‘he is not a normal man. ’’ So, wrote Krall in her book about Edelman, from the very beginning he was no good at talking about it, because he was unable to scream. He was no good as a hero, because he lacked grandiloquence. What bad luck. The one, the only one, who’d survived was no good as a hero. Having understood that, he tactfully lapsed into silence. 75 For when Edelman spoke, the uprising, as he related it, sounded different than before.

41 From the early twenties onwards, schools, settlements, organizations and institutions, streets and cemeteries, and children as well were named after Yosef Trumpeldor. 42 Children and adolescents made annual pilgrimages to the graves in northern Galilee, and memorized the ‘‘undying’’ words of Trumpeldor, in a compulsory, inevitable odyssey of initiation into their Israeli-ness. 43 Both the left and right wings of the Zionist movement appropriated the incident and turned it into an educational symbol, each in keeping with its ideology and its political vision at that particular point in time.

The sacrificed and the sanctified 19 it was unable to confront at such a formative stage; the interpretation assigned that event was not only designed to atone for the perceived sins of the Zionist leaders, to heal the fissure, to compensate for weakness and downfall, or to conceal the sacrifice and make sense of death. It is my contention that it should be perceived as bearing a far-reaching purpose, that is, the obliteration of the experience of death altogether, by suspending the victims over and above their historic death and transforming them into symbolic ‘‘dead,’’ eternally living, an immortal ‘‘living tel’’ (tel hai), as Jabotinsky phrased it; the living dead integrated in death into the unending cycle of life and nature.

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