Balancing Atrocities and Forced Forgetting: Memory Laws as a Means of Social Control in Israel

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This article examines memory laws as a new form of social control, demonstrating the significance of cultural memory to law and society scholarship. It focuses on two Israeli laws that seek to control public debate by giving voice to one marginalized group in order to silence another. The article presents two forms of such utilization of the law: forced forgetting and the balancing of atrocities. Forced forgetting validates the memory of one group of people over another group. Balancing atrocities equates victims, pitting the suffering of one group against that of another for the purpose of dismissing the former's claims for recognition and redress. The 2011 Nakba Law, an example of forced forgetting, dismisses the Palestinian minority's experience to amplify the memory of the Jewish majority, while the 2014 Jewish Nakba Law creates an analogy between Palestinian redress claims and those of the Mizrahi Jews in order to balance the atrocities that these groups suffered. We show that both forms of control have limitations that create gaps between legislation and implementation, yet their political-symbolic impact is much greater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-730
Number of pages26
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)
  • Law


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