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The Holocaust in collective Israeli identity . Stages in its evolution from 1946-2011. 1. The years of silence, shame and implicit accusation. Diaspora negation Shame: “lambs to the slaughter” Stories were not solicited Survivors were implicitly accused: Non-Zionists, “The good ones died ”

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the holocaust in collective israeli identity

The Holocaust in collective Israeli identity

Stages in its evolution from 1946-2011

1 the years of silence shame and implicit accusation
1. The years of silence, shame and implicit accusation

Diaspora negation

Shame: “lambs to the slaughter”

Stories were not solicited

Survivors were implicitly accused: Non-Zionists, “The good ones died”

Minimal teaching on Holocaust

the shame
The shame:
  • “The trouble with the Diaspora Jews is that they preferred the life of a beaten dog to an honorable death” (Yitzhak Grinbaum)
  • “Why don’t the Jews of Hungary defend themselves?” (Davar daily newspaper in Palestine, Front page, June 1944)
israel s negation of the diaspora
Israel’s Negation of the diaspora
  • “Our children read and hear a lot about the destruction of the Diaspora, the atrocities which were committed to our brethren and their suffering, but their hearts remains indifferent. …This is not surprising. Our youth is tall and proud in stature and spirit. They believe in their powers and know their worth. They love freedom and strive for open space. They would never tolerate any oppression”. (Weronovski, 1954)
the silence
The silence
  • “No one believed me. They asked questions and asked investigative queries as if I were a criminal who wanted to cheat people” (Kurtz)
  • “I wanted to be asked about what had happened to me “there” . My story was the only property I owned. But no one asked”. (Miriam Weinfeld)
  • “That’s the tragedy of the survivor’s mission. He has to tell a story that cannot be told. He has to convey a message that cannot be conveyed” (Eli Wiezel)
however the holocaust was simmering just under the surface
However, the Holocaust was simmering just under the surface:

Reparations dispute - 1952

Kastner trial - 1953

Drawing lessons from Kfar Kassem Massacre - 1956

learning holocaust lessons from kfar kassem massacre
Learning Holocaust lessons from KfarKassem Massacre

“Every IDF soldier has the obligation to refuse a blatantly illegal order”.

“The Jewish soldier will never be aided by the claim “I only filled orders”. He must understand what he is asked to do. Evil must be stopped way before it becomes at all similar to that of the Holocaust” paraphrase, Judge Levi)

what did holocaust commemoration look like during those years
What did Holocaust commemoration look like during those years?

Formal, state level, collective

Focus on bravery

Impersonal: “Six million”

At the same time – attempt to list witnesses.

education on topic limited
Education on topic - limited
  • Three educational stances were developed:
  • The Holocaust should be taught to strengthen Zionist identity and prove its necessity.
  • The Holocaust should be used to strengthen humanist values.
  • Historical knowledge of what took place should be stressed.
2 breaking the silence
2. Breaking the silence

Eichmann’s trial

The pre-Six day War anxiety

The Yom Kippur war sense of defeat

The 1977 political change.

what did holocaust commemoration look like following this awakening
What did Holocaust commemoration look like following this “awakening”?

Focus on the personal Stories and suffering

First popular renditions of second generation (“Dust and ashes”)

The “Each person has a name” project.

the personal testimonies memoirs
The personal: testimonies, memoirs

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

“I escaped from Auschwitz”

ashes and dust second generation
Ashes and dust: second generation

Voted “Most important Israeli album ever”.

3 the victim narrative gains importance privatization of holocaust
3. The “victim” narrative gains importance; (+Privatization of Holocaust)

Educational visits to Poland

March of the living

Thousands of studies, books, on Holocaust

Political message of fear

“privatization” offered

Critique of Holocaust commemoration raised.

messages imparted by such endeavors
Messages imparted by such endeavors:
  • Jewish+Zionist identity closely tied with Holocaust
  • Strong sense of “never again”
  • Sense of being alone in the world.
  • Sense of victimhood (sharp change from Israelis as entirely heroic)
  • Arabs grouped with all others who wish for the demise of the Jews.
privatization of the holocaust
“Privatization” of the Holocaust
  • Used for different political agendas.
  • Differentiated by groups: Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, children, GLBT, the deaf, and so on.
  • Critique is sometime expressed of mainstream messages and education in light of Holocaust.
  • Alternative ceremonies focus on personal perspectives.
  • Call is made for more universal content.
  • Some call is made for “moving on”.