Israeli society between the culture of death and the culture of life

Dan Bar-On

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Introduction Israeli society has had to struggle for physical and mental survival since the moment of its establishment. Seven wars and several additional armed conflicts have created a reality of death and dying as a major theme in this society. In contrast to the urge to live and survive, a collective legend of "dying for our country" developed during the early phases of Zionism, somewhat similarly to the medieval Jewish Ashkenazi legend of Kidush Hashem (dying for one's faith in God) and to the myth of collective suicide at Massada after the destruction of the Second Temple, during the Roman era. The peace process, especially the Peace Accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at Oslo, introduced into this struggle for survival and its mythology a counterpoint, strengthening the wish for life and living. Though peace has always been the dream, actual confrontation with the psychological implication of redefining oneself not through an enemy is not at all easy for the Israeli society. In this chapter the culture of dying and the culture of living are described and presented as two polarities between which Israeli society has been trying to find its way during the last decades of this millennium.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHonoring Differences
Subtitle of host publicationCultural Issues in the Treatment of Trauma and Loss
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781134871780
ISBN (Print)9780876309346
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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