Israel and the Shoah: A Tale of Multifarious Taboos

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Abstract

Since Israel's emergence, weaving the Shoah into the fabric of its national narrative has been fraught with ambiguities, controversies, and paradoxes. For much of its history this event was regarded as a dou- ble-edged taboo; often in juxtaposition with one another, it was regarded on the one hand as "uncanny" and "dangerous," and on the other hand as "sacred" and "consecrated" - reflecting, but not consis- tently, the difference between the ideological and the political, the pub- lic and the private spheres.3 Notwithstanding the continuous and extensive presence of the "Six Million" code in Israel's public sphere, until the early 1960s, the primacy of Zionist ideology dictated a nega- tive attitude toward the plight of the individual victims and survivors. It was in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Days War that "Auschwitz," the defining negative event of Jewish exilic existence, was embraced as a cornerstone of Israel's collective identity. Since the early 1980s, mounting unease and uncertainty about "who we are" and "who we ought to become" - Israelis or Jews, Western or Eastern, victims or victimizers, Zionists or post-Zionists, a Jewish state or a "stat for all its citizens"- uncovered growing reservations about the centrality of the Shoah in Israel's national life and political culture.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)5-26
Number of pages22
JournalNew German Critique
Issue number90
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

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