Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood

In this book, the Israeli historian, Idith Zertal, (Cambridge University Press, 2005) makes a strong case for the way Israel has “appropriated and used the memory of the Holocaust in order to define and legitimize its existence and poliitics”. She argues that the creation in Israel of a particular collective memory about the Holocaust has “led to a culture of death and victimhood which permeates Israeli society, its rituals, and its self-image. The ghost of the Holocaust is ever present in Israel, in the lives and nightmares of the survivors, and in the absence of the victims.” This isn’t a new analysis but Zertal shows how this memory has been constructed and maintained and how it prevents the possibility of peaceful co-existence with the Palestinians.

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