In August 2005, the Israeli government evicted from the Gaza Strip eight thousand settlers who had occupied the region since 1967. In a desperate attempt to thwart the government’s action, the settlers’ crusade adopted insignias meant to link the evacuation with the Holocaust: sewing yellow stars of David onto their clothing while tattooing numbers onto their arms. During the actual removal, many of the settlers, crying and shouting on their way to the luxury buses that whisked them off to Israel, re-enacted scenes they had seen in Holocaust films or museums. They cursed soldiers and police as Nazis, and likened senior army officers to Hitler.
This was a supremely ugly manipulation of the memory of the Holocaust, witnessed in a state that had perfected such manipulation as a diplomatic tool in its struggle against the Palestinians. But even when the manipulation has been excessive or indeed pathetic, Israeli academics have nonetheless been very careful about criticising such occurrences.
The protection of the Holocaust memory in Israel from any critique is consensual and widespread. For that very reason, recording those who in the 1990s did dare to ask some pertinent questions about it within academia must be an important part of this book. Their effort was as unique as those who challenged the 1948 foundational mythology, and so perhaps it is not surprising that, in both cases, the persons most associated with the academic research on the topic later retracted, becoming neo-Zionist defenders of Zionism as well as the chief critics of their former colleagues. These persons are Benny Morris, in the case of 1948, and Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, in the case of Holocaust memory.
As is often true, there were in fact earlier attempts, most of them not by scholars, to understand the impact and significance of Holocaust memory in the constructing and marketing of the idea of Israel. The search of truth was driven by moral and ethical concerns, and paved the way for the initiation of scholarly inquiry when a more amiable atmosphere developed in Israeli academia in the 1990s. A more open approach to Holocaust memory in Israel showed the connection between the state’s narration of the Holocaust – its causes and impact – and its justification of harsh policies towards the Palestinians. This connection became a major theme in the post-Zionist critique of Holocaust memorialisation in Israel.
One of the first persons to voice a genuine concern about the way Holocaust memory was brought to bear in Israel was none other than Nahum Goldmann, founder and president of the World Jewish Congress through the late 1970s. Despite his senior position, he condemned as sacrilegious the way Israel manipulated Holocaust memory in order to justify its oppression of the Palestinians. (1) Many years later, in our own century, Avraham Burg, a speaker of the Knesset and subsequently chair of the Jewish Agency, would voice similar concerns. He summarised his thoughts on this issue in a book whose title says it all, The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes, in which he states: ‘In fact, the only hope we have to make peace with the Arabs is if we free ourselves of our Shoah mentality, and stop acting like a small Eastern European shtetl’. (2)
The strongest voice came from Holocaust survivors. The first was Israel Shahak, in whose writing one can often encounter the phrase ‘the falsification of the Holocaust’:
I disagree ... that the Israeli education system has managed to instill a ‘Holocaust awareness’ in its pupils. It is not an awareness of the Holocaust but rather the myth of the Holocaust or even a falsification of the Holocaust (in the sense that ‘a half-truth’ is worse than a lie) which has been instilled here. (3)
In another passage, Shahak refers to the fear felt in Israel about explaining how crucial Jewish collaborators were in helping the Nazis carry out their extermination of the Jews, and he justifies the killing of these collaborators by the Resistance at the time, just as he indicates an understanding of why the Palestinians killed collaborators during the First Intifada:
If we knew a little of the truth about the Holocaust, we would at least understand (with or without agreeing) why the Palestinians are now eliminating their collaborators. That is the only means they have if they wish to continue to struggle against our limb-breaking regime [referring here to Yitzhak Rabin’s famous call, during the First Intifada, for the Israeli soldiers to break the limbs of the Palestinians]. (4)
Shahak was also the first to bring up the enthusiasm felt by certain leading Zionists for the Nazis in the early 1930s, an enthusiasm which, he acknowledged, ceased in the late 1930s. About one of the most revered liberal Zionist philosophers, Martin Buber, he wrote: ‘Buber glorified a movement holding and actually teaching doctrines about non-Jews not unlike the Nazi doctrines about Jews’. And, he wrote, Joachim Prinz, later a leading figure in the post-war American Zionist establishment,
congratulated Hitler on his triumph over the common enemy – the forces of liberalism. Dr Joachim Prinz, a Zionist rabbi who subsequently emigrated to the USA, where he rose to be vice-chairman of the World Jewish Congress and a leading light in the World Zionist Organization (as well as a great friend of Golda Meir), published in 1934 a special book, Wir Juden (We, Jews), to celebrate Hitler’s so-called German Revolution and the defeat of liberalism. (5)
Obviously Shahak did not mince his words. He characterised an attempt by religious Jews during the Litani Operation in 1978 (in which Israel occupied southern Lebanon as retaliation for a PLO attack on a bus on the outskirts of Tel Aviv) as an effort ‘to induce military doctors and nurses to withhold medical help from wounded “Gentiles”’, calling this ‘Nazi-like advice’. (6) He referred to the Jewish settlers in a similar vein. Following the 1980 assassination attempts by Jewish terrorists in which Mayor Bassam Shak’a of Nablus lost both his legs and Mayor Karim Khalaf of Ramallah lost a foot, Shahak reported to his readers: ‘A group of Jewish Nazis gathered in the campus of Tel Aviv University, roasted a few cats and offered their meat to passers-by as shish-kebab from the legs of the Arab mayors’. (7)
Boaz Evron echoed similar concerns in his 1980 article ‘The Holocaust – A Danger to the Nation’. (8) He questioned the uniqueness of the Jewish experience within the overall Nazi programme, saying that the extermination of the gypsies ‘disproves the false assumption that the Nazi extermination policy was exclusively directed against the Jews.’ (9) He further argued that Holocaust memorialisation in Israel was responsible for creating a ‘paranoid reaction’ among Israelis and even a ‘moral blindness’, which posed a real ‘danger to the nation’ and could lead to an occurrence of ‘racist Nazi attitudes’ within Israel itself. (10)
Eight years later Yehuda Elkana, who, like Shahak, was a young child in Nazi Europe, repeated these very ideas in an article in Ha’aretz. (11) Elkana was ten when he was imprisoned in Auschwitz and fourteen when he arrived in Israel in 1948. He became an international star in the philosophy of science – receiving his PhD from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, teaching at Harvard for a while, having a long and distinguished career at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and finally becoming the president and rector of the Central European University in Budapest.
In 1988 Elkana witnessed with growing unease two simultaneous displays of Israeli power and force. One was the brutality of the Israelis during the early months of the First Intifada; the second was the trial of John Demjanjuk in Jerusalem. Demjanjuk was allegedly a notorious guard, ‘Ivan the Terrible’, in the Treblinka extermination camp. He was sentenced to death in 1988, after having been extradited from the United States, but was exonerated in 1993 by the Israeli Supreme Court on grounds of lack of decisive evidence for his true identity.
On 2 March 1988, Elkana published an article in Ha’aretz titled ‘The Need to Forget’. Israeli society, he recommended, should ease its excessive and obsessive preoccupation with the Holocaust. He argued that Israeli Jews suffered from a surplus of memory and would do well to unburden themselves of the symbols, ceremonies, and purported lessons of their traumatic past. While it may be ‘important for the world at large to remember’, wrote Elkana, ‘[f]or our part, we must learn to forget!’ He warned that there was no great danger to the future of Israel than to be preoccupied from morning to night, with symbols, ceremonies, and lessons of the Holocaust, and he exhorted his country’s leaders to uproot the rule of historical remembrance from their lives. (12)
Elkana saw the trial of Demjanjuk as an example of excessive pre-occupation with the Holocaust, but he also connected this obsession with the supposedly ‘anomalous’ behaviour of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians in the First Intifada. Searching for ways to understand this behaviour, he attributed the soldiers’ actions to the negative effects that the manipulation of Holocaust memory had on the younger generation, contending that it perverted their moral judgement and values.
In his view, Israelis harboured an exaggerated sense of themselves as victims, and this self-image, itself the result of wrong lessons learned from the Holocaust, prevented them from seeing the Palestinians in a more realistic light and impeded a reasonable political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Elkana worried that a Holocaust-induced image of the Jews as eternal victims might encourage Israelis to justify the crudest behaviour toward the Palestinians. Drawing parallels between the excesses committed by soldiers in the territories and what took in Germany, Elkana voiced his concern that Israeli Jews could end up mimicking the behaviour of the worst of their enemies and thereby grant Hitler a ‘tragic and paradoxical victory’. (13) Amos Elon, the famous Israeli journalist and essayist, agreed with Elkana and in response to the latter’s article wrote ‘a little forgetfulness might finally be in order.’ (14)
These early public ponderings about the manipulation, overusage and potential harm of Holocaust memory set the stage for the more scholarly post-Zionist academic challenges of the 1990s. The academics’ readiness to go that far was also influenced by a surprisingly rich literature from the American Jewish community. Conscientious Jews in the United States – such as Peter Novick, Lenni Brenner and Norman Finkelstein – had begun to rebuke their own community’s manipulation of Holocaust memory in the service of Israel. (15) It is through the work of these scholars that one can appreciate the crucial role played by the Zionist representation of Holocaust memory in marketing the idea of Israel in the United States. Novick summarised his criticism by claiming that American Jewry turned ‘inward and rightward’ in recent decades, mostly because of the ‘centring of the Holocaust in the minds of American Jews’. (16) He also drew more general conclusions from what he termed ‘Holocaust consciousness’, which encouraged Jewish self-aggrandisement and prevented other victimised people from receiving a proper share of public attention and sympathy.
The most vociferous American critic, however, has been Norman Finkelstein. Born in 1953 in New York to parents who were Holocaust survivors, he chose an academic career as a political scientist very early on, and his postgraduate studies took him to Paris and then to Princeton University, where he completed his doctorate. He has taught at several American universities, encountering real hardship in gaining tenure because of his forthright criticism of Israel, which he has voiced in numerous articles and several books. Most of his work has focused on Zionism and Palestine.
In 2000 he published The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. The book sought to indict ‘the Holocaust’ as an ideological representation of history that was fraudulently devised and marketed to the American public in order to revive a faltering Jewish identity and to ‘justify criminal policies of the Israeli state and US support for these policies’. Finkelstein decries the fact that Israel, ‘one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a “victim” state’ and looks for ways of garnering ‘immunity to criticism’. The industry is not only about images; it is in fact more about money. People who have made money out of the misery of the Holocaust: are ‘a repellent gang of well-heeled hoodlums and hucksters’ seeking enormous legal damages and financial settlements from Germany and Switzerland – money which then goes to the lawyers and institutional actors involved in procuring it, rather than to the actual Holocaust survivors. (17)
Very much as in the case of the sensitive issue of 1948, scholars demanded more than just strong conviction and could only be satisfied when presented with hardcore evidence that shook their confidence in the hegemonic narrative. Nor did the archives and the newspapers of the past disappoint on that score either. Reappraisal of declassified documents exposed several issues, of which three were especially important: the Zionist leadership’s past stance towards fascism, Nazism, and the Holocaust; the attitude towards the survivors of the catastrophe who arrived as immigrants to Palestine during and after the catastrophe; and the nature and significance of the uprisings in the ghettos.
‘What Italy Can Achieve, So Can Yehuda!’
The first topic the new scholars dared to tackle in the new and relatively open atmosphere were the sympathies shown in the early 1930s towards fascism and Nazism by some participants in the Zionist movement. Even when leaders of the movement were unenthusiastic about the ideologies themselves, the very fact that Italy and Germany were Britain’s enemies, as many Zionist activists saw it, was enough to allow for contact with both powers during the years leading up to the Second World War. In addition, before they became aware that the Nazis planned to exterminate the Jews, pragmatic Zionist leaders wanted to exploit the Nazi wish to expel them, because the leaders saw expulsion as benefitting the Jewish community in Palestine. (18)
The picture that emerged when all three themes were fused into one challenging new narrative was, to say the least, embarrassing. Leading intellectuals of the Jewish community, such as Itamar Ben-Avi (the son of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, reviver of the Hebrew language) and Aba Ahimeir, sang the praises of fascism loud and clear. Ben-Avi even suggested that the Italian Fascist model was suitable for the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine. As he wrote, ‘what Italy can achieve, so can Judah!’ (19)
In 1928, Aba Ahimeir, who became a leading member of the far-right wing of the Revisionist movement, wrote a regular column in the Hebrew daily Doar Hayom, edited by Ben-Avi. The title of the column was ‘Mipinkaso shel Fashistan’ (From a Fascist’s Notebook). In 1931 he played a central role in the founding of Brit Habiryonim (Union of Thugs), an underground group modelled on European fascist groups and devoted to opposing British policy in Palestine. At the trial of members of this organisation who were accused of disrupting a left-wing event at the Hebrew University in early 1932, their lawyer declared, ‘Yes, we Revisionists have a great admiration for Hitler. Hitler has saved Germany ... And if he had given up his anti-Semitism we would go with him.’ (20)
In the summer of 1932, Ben-Avi commented in the pages of Doar Hayom that one should accept the inevitability of Hitler’s rise to power. What he meant was spelled out in another newspaper, Hazit Ha’am, edited by Aba Ahimeir and Yehoshua Heschel Yevin, which declared that unlike the socialists and democrats who were convinced that Hitler’s movement was an empty shell, ‘we believe that there is both a shell and a kernel. The anti-Semitic shell is to be discarded, but not the anti-Marxist kernel’. (21)
The mainstream leadership did not exhibit such sympathy, but refused to adopt an aggressive stance against the Nazi regime. The archives revealed a Zionist leadership so focused on the project in Palestine that the boycott declared by Jews around the world against the Nazis in the 1930s seemed to these Zionists the wrong policy. At the time, the leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, David Ben-Gurion; ‘Zionism bears the obligations of a state; it therefore cannot initiate an irresponsible battle against Hitler as long as he remains a head of state’. The ‘irresponsible battle’ was the boycott. (22)
In order to convince his listeners, Ben-Gurion further pointed out that other countries hostile to Germany, even the Soviet Union, had not severed their ties with the Third Reich. Instead of joining in with the other Jewish communities in a worldwide boycott of German goods, the Zionist leadership adopted a different stance – the only Jewish community to do so. It struck an agreement with the Gestapo that in return for the Zionist movement agreement not to support such a boycott, the Jews of Germany would be allowed to liquidate their holdings and possessions and bring them along when they moved to Palestine. (23)
The contacts with the Nazis were less an issue of sympathy and more a matter of practicality, and yet exposing these contacts required a self-assertive, confident academic. Moshe Zimmermann was such a person. (24) He was a well-known expert on German history at the Hebrew University and was used to public notoriety and abuse. He attracted the nation’s attention with a very blunt condemnation of the settlers and their youth movement. (25) So perhaps it is not surprising that he was willing to excavate this uncomfortable topic. Greatly assisted by the US historian Lenni Brenner, Zimmermann discovered that Zionist contact with the Nazis had begun in earnest in 1933. The main supporter in Germany of this contact was the German journalist Leopold von Mildenstein, who was close to the Zionist ideologue and leader Arthur Ruppin, a German Jew. Early on, Zionist leaders offered an alliance with Germany, since, at the time, they saw Germany primarily as Britain’s enemy. (26)
When, a bit later, the anti-Jewish nature of the Nazis’ policies was revealed, the Zionists’ agenda turned to the promotion of an agreement that would enable the immigration of German Jews exclusively to Palestine. In late 1936, a joint delegation of the Jewish Agency and the German immigrant association in Palestine approached the German consul general in Jerusalem with a proposal that Germany send a representative to the Palestine Royal Commission, the famous Peel Commission, and support the Zionist stance (the plan was rejected). (27)
Zimmermann probably went further on the issue than many other scholars would have. Without hesitation, he identified the common goal shared by the Zionist movement and Nazism: the exodus of European Jews from the Continent. Of course, when it came to light that the Nazi plan called for the extermination of the Jews, the joint vision evaporated and the Zionist-Nazi collaboration ended. When the Palestinian scholar Joseph Massad recently implied such an interdependence on Al Jazeera’s website, the network briefly bowed to pressure and removed the article, but then republished it. (28)
The most elaborate research into the attitudes towards and contacts with the Nazis was carried out by the Israeli journalist and historian Tom Segev, whose area of expertise was German history, specifically Nazi history. Segev’s doctoral dissertation dealt with the commanders of the extermination camps, and his other work focused on the Mandatory period and early statehood. In his research on Holocaust memory, he showed that the contact continued well into 1937; not only did he describe the contact but, like Zimmerman, condemned it. Segev exposed meetings between the Hagana, the main Jewish military group, and senior Nazi personalities, the most important being Adolf Eichmann. Most of the meetings involved the heads of the Sicherheitsdienst, or SD (the security or service of the SS), in the winter of 1937. (29) According to the later claims of Zionist organisations, the Hagana wanted to direct the exiting German Jews to Palestine, not to anywhere else. The German foreign ministry did not encourage these meetings, however, as it did not see the formation of a Zionist state to be in the German interest; the Hagana emissary countered by asserting that a Jewish majority in Palestine would in fact serve Germany’s purposes, because it would rid the country of its Jews and would serve as an anti-British base. Segev is unsure about this emissary’s degree of authority, but as Zimmerman has shown, the line he took was not contrary to the one taken by the Zionist leadership. (30)
It is obvious that once the true nature of Nazism and its extermination policies was recognised, this attitude changed and contact ceased (until an attempt was made to save the Jews of Hungary in 1944 by offering the German army money for ammunition). But then a different issue emerged: How much was the Zionist leadership willing to invest in the rescue operations once it came to recognise the fate of the Jews in Europe?
On that question, Segev proved to be Zionist policy’s severest critic. In his book, The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust, he describes a Zionist leadership interested only in saving Jews who were willing to emigrate to Palestine or who were physically and mentally capable of contributing to the success of the community. Segev begins this thesis in the pre-war years, when saving the Jews of Europe was important to the Zionist leadership only in so far as it contributed to the building of a Jewish state. ‘If I knew,’ said David Ben-Gurion,
that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second – because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people. (31)
The practical manifestation of this attitude, Segev found, was that rescue operations not connected directly with the Jewish community in Palestine were not undertaken. He describes in his book a community that went about its mundane affairs while its leaders revealed themselves to the people of limited imagination whose rarefied self-image as national leaders stymied their willingness to engage in the duplicity and strategems necessary for underground activity. Not wishing to invest heavily in rescue operations was not only a matter of prioritisation; it was also a condemnation of those Jews who were unwise enough to ignore Zionist warnings. Or, to put it differently, the priorities regarding the allocation of monetary and human resources for salvage operations reflected a more deeply embedded stance. This dismissive attitude towards the diaspora Jews, even at their hour of need, was part of a wider distaste for the diaspora itself.
This situation was among the most daring components of the post-Zionist challenge to the idea of Israel. Segev claimed, for example, that the negation of the diaspora remained the ideological cornerstone of Zionist doctrine. Negation was expressed, he writes, in the Yishuv’s ‘deep contempt, and even disgust, for Jewish life in the diaspora’ and their feeling of ‘alienation [towards] those who suffered’ in the Holocaust. (32) Elsewhere in his book, Segev ventures a more conspiratorial explanation for the Yishuv’s policies. He detects a tacit alliance between the Jewish community in Palestine and the British Empire. The Zionist movement was promised a favoured status after the war if it kept quiet about rescue operations and let the Allies pursue their war efforts without interference.
It all adds up to quite an uneasy read. The Seventh Million appeared first in Hebrew and was then made into a documentary film, screened in prime time in the happy days of post-Zionist media openness. (33) It showed the more questionable side of the ‘new Jew’ born in Palestine, hero of the idea of Israel. Segev pointed out that in many ways the commemoration of the Holocaust became the new religion for the secular Jews of Palestine – or, as he puts it, since religion had no importance for the identity of many secular Israelis, in its place came homage to Holocaust memory, a tribute that often transmogrified into a bizarre obsession with death.
Segev was a post-Zionist researcher par excellence. He not only told us what he found in the archives, he also condemned the previous generation of scholars, especially historians, for ignoring these unpleasant facts because of their loyalty to the Zionist interpretation of the idea of Israel. In that interpretation, those who died in the Holocaust went ‘like sheep to the slaughter’ instead of rebelling, as did the few among them, who were immediately recognised not only as the brave ones but also as the Zionist ones, who belonged to us, even if they made the mistake of not emigrating sooner to Palestine.
‘The Ancestor of the Warsaw Uprising Is the State of Israel’
Mainstream Israeli historiography, the underpinning of the political élite, characterised the revolts in the various ghettos and camps as a chapter in the long Zionist history of struggle against those who wished to destroy the Jewish people. This was one narrative. The very idea that there might be another narrative was a bold suggestion, made by post-Zionist scholars in the 1990s. To them, these uprisings had been Zionised in Israeli collective memory and mainstream academia. They saw this process of Zionisation as a typical instance of how national movements tend to define people’s past identity in accordance with the needs of the present national movement.
In early 1942, the Nazi regime in Poland began to despatch Jews to death camps. This triggered the unusual attempt by the Warsaw Ghetto’s inhabitants to resist by force this transfer to death. Two groups of Jews in the ghetto decided to rebel – one closer to Jewish Socialist movements, such as the anti-Zionist General Jewish Labour Bund, and one closer to the Zionist Revisionist movement. Both were aided by the Polish underground. Among the leaders of the former was Marek Edelman; born in 1919, he had joined the Bund as a youth. the actual revolt broke out in January 1943, when a second wave of transports began, and held on until the beginning of May until they succumbed to the superior military might of the Nazi forces.
After the war, Edelman studied medicine in Poland and became a cardiologist. In 1976 he joined the famous Solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa and became one of Poland’s revered intellectuals. In his writing he often addressed issues of human and civil rights around the world and often criticised Zionism and Israel for their discriminatory policies towards the Palestinians. In the late 1980s he became a member of the Polish parliament. In 1993 the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, led an Israeli delegation for the jubilee commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Polish president Lech Walesa asked Edelman to be among the chief speakers; heavy pressure from the Israeli delegation removed him from the list at the very last moment. (34)
In keeping with the observation by critics of nationalism, such as Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm, that it is best to nationalise dead people since they cannot claim an identity different from the one ascribed to them, one can imagine how troublesome was Marek Edelman, the major figure in the Warsaw uprising. (35) At the time he was a member of a non-Zionist organisation; after the Holocaust he remained a Polish socialist; and still he was alive and kicking. It was bad enough for Edelman did not fit the image that the official cultural producers in Israel wished the leaders of the rebellion to have; worse, he actively contested it. In 1945 he wrote a book on the uprising called The Ghetto Fighters, which appeared in Hebrew only in 2001. (36) He disliked the way he and his friends were portrayed visually and textually in Israeli scholarship – ‘none of them had ever looked like this ... they didn’t have rifles, cartridge pouches or maps; besides, they were dark and dirty’, hardly the ideal type of handsome, Aryan-like young Jews seen in the Israeli museums of the Holocaust and in the pictures decorating official texts. (37)
Edelman explained that for him the uprising was a human choice about how to die (as Primo Levi, too, claimed). But death was not a simple issue for the political élite in Israel, which is always busy shaping the collective memory of a society of immigrants, while at the same time colonising a population and an area that resisted, at to rank death in a hierarchy – to idealise one type and condemn another. Death in rebellion against the Holocaust was commendable; death in the Holocaust without resistance was questionable. Death for the sake of the nation was to be the sublime act of humanity. (38)
Edelman was ignored in official Israeli texts and representations of the Holocaust. He is known now thanks to Idith Zertal, who, in the relative openness of the public debate during the 1990s, introduced his story to the world. (39) Zertal was the editor of Ha’aretz’s prestigious weekend supplement and edited Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly, the main publication of Tel Aviv University’s School of History; today she teaches in Switzerland. In her book The Nation and the Death (in English it was titled Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood), she discussed the Warsaw uprising. As Zertal came from the heart of the establishment, she was able to get a mainstream publishing house to publish her highly subversive book. In it, one encounters Israel as a necrophilic nation, obsessed and possessed by death, and particularly the death camps of the Holocaust – unable to comprehend the atrocity, and yet quite able to use and abuse its memory for the sake of its political aims.
Through Zertal’s book, we become able to see how deep the institutionalisation of Holocaust memory went in the young Jewish state. She describes the construction of a selective narrative that adapted the history of the Holocaust to Israel’s strategic and ideological demands. Two themes were important in this respect. The first was planting in the public mind a clear contrast between the new ‘brave’ Jews of Israel and those who went ‘willingly’ to the slaughter in Europe’s extermination camps; the second, nationalising, or Zionising, the rebellions, particularly the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as precursors of the resurrection of the Jews as a new nation in their ‘redeemed’ homeland. To use a phrase from Benedict Anderson, who served as an inspiration for Zertal’s work; ‘The ancestor of the Warsaw uprising is the state of Israel’. (40) When the two themes are taken together, it is clear that the Jews who participated in the uprising were constructed by the young Jewish state as ‘proto-Zionists’ and not, as Primo Levi and others saw them, as people who wished to choose their own kind of death in the face of massive extermination. (41)
In the official version of the collective memory, the uprisings were part of the narrative of Palestine, in which, whether in the Warsaw of the Second World War or north of the Galilee in Roman times, brave Jews stood firm in the face of their enemies. ‘The flame of the rebellion has been ignited in the ghettos in the name of Eretz Israel’, declared Zalman Shazar, who later became Israel’s third president. (42) According to this account, the rebel drew courage from the Jews who had withstood the Arab attacks of the 1920s. This reductionist approach, explained Zertal, was not just a cynical construction of a tale; it also served a psychological yearning to comprehend the Holocaust: ‘By [the rebels’] acts, the impossible and inconceivable became both possible and conceivable’. (43)
Zertal relied heavily on Hannah Arendt’s work. In the wake of the Adolf Eichmann trial in Israel in 1961-62, Arendt challenged Israel’s crude distortions of the Holocaust. (44) She was even more fiercely rebuked than Edelman and to a degree demonised. Arendt not only philosophised about the historical narrative but, far more important, contemplated the moral implications of nationalism, Judaism, and evil. She offered an alternative humanist and universalist view of the Holocaust and contemporary Judaism.
In the 1990s, the educator Yair Auron went as far as to propose a radical change in the way that Holocaust was taught in Israel, suggesting that it be taught as part of the history of modern genocide. [A sign of crazy State? Or is it not that unusual?] (45) He was supported at the time by a University of Haifa philosopher of education, Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, who in the 1990s was a strong voice in favour of a universalist approach. Gur-Ze’ev decried what he called ‘the Israeli educational industry’s desire to dominate the memory of the Holocaust’ and to exclude any universalisation of the event. The Shoah, he wrote, ‘became the Totem of Zionism’. (46) The educational system in Israel acts as a conservative, non-reflective, manipulative tool and labels as taboo any other approach to the event and its implications.
After the Second Intifada, Gur-Ze’ev would come to regret his own post-Zionism and embrace afresh the old Zionist narrative and interpretation of the Holocaust. The philosopher Adi Ofir, editor of Theory and Criticism, on the other hand, remained steadfast in his criticism. Already in 1986, he depicted the Israeli preoccupation with the Holocaust as religious practice. He claimed that anyone who would dare ‘to offer a different representation’ or ‘even claim he or she knows what really happened there’ would be branded as a heathen and traitor. (47)
The Embarrassing Jews: Demonisation of Holocaust Survivors
Part of this more humanist and universalist approach to the history of the Holocaust was de-Zionising the revolts and also providing space for the different narratives of those who had survived the camps and the atrocities. This new angle also enabled a revisiting of the way the survivors themselves were treated once they reached Palestine and, later, Israel.
Until the 1990s, Holocaust studies in Israel was a widespread discipline; almost every university and college had a special department or centre devoted to extensive research on it. Their brand of inquiry, however, was quite limited and focused mainly on the Nazis themselves and the uprisings against them. The vast majority of scholars seemed to ignore Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s famous comment when he was asked by the film-maker Eyal Sivan, in the documentary Yizkor: Slaves of Memory, about Holocaust memorialisation in Israel (more on this film in Chapter 9): ‘Why should the Holocaust interests us? We are the victims. It is the Germans who should be concerned with what they have done’. (48)
In the 1990s post-Zionist scholarship, in the course of extending the scope of research, juxtaposed for the first time the Jewish state and its political élite with individuals who survived the inferno and chose to become citizens of Israel (or were forced to do so). These survivors did not fit the image of the Sabra – the new Jew – a disparity reflected in the documentary films of the 1940s and 1950s. This pattern was discovered by Nurith Gertz, a literary scholar at the Open University who contributed significantly to post-Zionist work on cinema. She showed that the survivors appeared in those films as obstinate, strange Jews who were unwilling to integrate into their new society. She called this representation the silencing of the memory, as the films gave no room for either the personal or collective narrative of these survivors. Their narrative, wrote Gertz, was ‘stifled by the collective narrative of Holocaust and heroism’. (49) Their memories, she continued,
erupt in the present and disrupt the Zionist narrative that leads from the obliteration of the Diaspora past to the formation of the Israeli present and future. This is the narrative of people who remained foreign and ‘other’ in Israeli society, who did not exchange their identities as Zionism expected of them. The films attempt to integrate these people into the Israeli collective. (50)
And nothing could mitigate this negative image. As Tom Segev noted, even the fact that a third of the soldiers who fought in Israel’s war of independence were survivors of Hitler, or that some of them had indeed rebelled, was of no help to them. The young State of Israel was still, in Segev’s words, ‘embarrassed by the Holocaust’. The Jewish state was founded on the concept of the ‘new’ Jew: tough, proudly speaking Hebrew, working the land, self-reliant. The Holocaust victims, it was said, had gone like sheep to the slaughter. They were the ‘old’ Jews: Yiddish-speaking exiles, urban and mercantile. (51)
The State of Israel, so it seems, coped much better with dead Holocaust Jews than with Holocaust survivors. As a Ben-Gurion University historian, Hanna Yablonka, put it, in general the Zionist sense was that those who survived were guilty by the sheer fact that they were alive, and thus represented a past that the Israelis wished to forget. (52) Idith Zertal, too, in her earlier book From Catastrophe to Power: The Holocaust Survivors and the Emergence of Israel, focused on the lofty and dismissive attitude of the Sabras towards the survivors and their plight, and she noted that this attitude left deep scars in the souls of those who survived the Holocaust and reached Palestine. (53)
But the survivors were not simply despised; when necessary they were recruited, quite often against their will, to the Zionist cause in Palestine. It began on their day of liberation from the death chambers in Europe. This much we now know because of the work of Yosef Grodzinsky, a neurolinguist from Tel Aviv University. His father was a survivor and a member of the Bund, an organisation that even after the Holocaust continued to maintain that there was an international socialist alternative to Zionism. (54) This personal history motivated Grodzinsky to step out of his field of inquiry and take the unusual step of writing a historical study of how people like his father were treated by the Zionist movement after the Holocaust, when, having survived the war, they were put in ‘displaced persons’ (DP) camps all over Germany.
The DP camps played an important part in the Zionist diplomatic battle over the fate of post-Mandatory Palestine. In those days, the Palestinians counter-argument against the idea of the Jewish state was based on the idea that, among other things, the Arabs in Palestine, constituting an absolute two-thirds majority, had the democratic right to determine what kind of state they wanted at the end of the Mandate. Zionist propaganda worked hard to associate, initially only in vague terms, the Jews all over the world and the fate of the Jewish community in Palestine. In this way, the demographic balance on the ground became immaterial – it had to include all Jews, wherever they were, and therefore the Jews were a potential majority in Palestine.
But this approach was deemed too academic, for instance by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry charged in 1946 with proposing a solution to the conflict in Palestine. It was clear that a more concrete association had to be established between the fate of the European Jews and those in Palestine. To prove that point, the people in the DP camps would have to wish, en masse, to emigrate to Palestine. One member of the Anglo-American Committee, Richard Crossman, was unimpressed by the general argument at the time he was appointed, but changed his mind once he visited the camps and was told that most of the people there wanted to come to Palestine. If he had actually consulted the American and British commanders of those camps, they would have told him that the vast majority in fact wanted to emigrate to Britain or the United States. (55)
Grodzinsky found out why the Anglo-American Committee and its successor, the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), heard only one voice in the camps. In his book Good Human Material, he describes a reign of Zionist terror against anyone else trying to help the DPs emigrate to places other than Palestine (the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, for instance, was very active in trying to help Jews go to the United States). In the camps were recruitment offices for the Hagana where the DPs were sworn in as soldiers; for such soldiers to change their mind was tantamount to desertion. Grodzinsky described other unsavoury means for Zionising survivors who were fit for military action and for barring other organisations from establishing a presence in the camps. (56)
Moreover, the Zionist leadership continued to utilise the survivors after they left the camps and were on their way to Palestine. This has become evident in post-Zionist scholarship through a reappraisal of the case of the SS Exodus, or Exodus 1947, the ship that sailed from Europe with more than four thousand Holocaust survivors on board and was refused entry to Palestine by the Mandatory government, its passengers ultimately forced to return to Germany.
On 11 July 1947, SS Exodus left France in the middle of the night with its cargo of Jewish Holocaust survivors from Europe’s DP camps. None of them had a certificate to enter Mandatory Palestine. The British Royal Navy trailed the ship and finally intercepted it. This was the intended outcome of the incident, as the Jewish Agency wanted to attract world opinion to the blockade Britain had imposed on large immigrant ships attempting to reach Palestine. A mainstream Israeli historian, Aviva Halamish, showed that the refugees were told to prepare for the interception and were instructed how to resist the British forces when they boarded the ship. (57)
The passengers were returned via three smaller ships to France, where they refused to disembark. The British government decided not to attempt forced disembarkation and made the ships sail to the place from which most of the DP had departed: Germany. Returning Holocaust survivors to Germany in 1947 was a shocking move, and the Jewish Agency made all the PR capital it could out of it.
The incident became part of what Novick, and later Finkelstein, called the Holocaust industry in the United States. A well-known American writer, Leon Uris, wrote a novel on it that was published in 1958. Uris was a freelance war correspondent for several American newspapers in the 1956 Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt. He was, as would be said today, embedded with the Israeli forces, and it was during those years that he used the Exodus affair as a basis for a tale that faithfully reflected the Zionist narrative. The book’s protagonist, Ari Ben Cannan, is a fearless kibbutznik who commands the Exodus 1947. Other characters, by their very life story, represent chapters from the Zionist narrative. Ari Ben Canaan came vividly to life when Paul Newman played the part in Otto Preminger’s adaptation of the novel into a Hollywood film in 1960. (58) For the mainstream, this was the modern story of Masada; indeed, it was the redemption of Masada. It was such a powerful narration that as a heroic tale, through Leon Uris’s book and the subsequent film, it became one of the main media sources through which American public opinion was galvanised in favour of the Zionist story.
The post-Zionist reading of this event was diametrically opposed to the way it was narrated by mainstream historiography. In the alternative narrative that emerged in the 1990s, Exodus is a tale of cynicism and manipulation. In it, the immigrants appear as pawns in the struggle for the international recognition of a future Jewish state. The wretched survivors demanded, or so the world was told, to be allowed to settle in Palestine; if refused, they would end up being sent back to the displaced-person camps in Germany. This message was directed specifically at the UN Special Commission on Palestine, which in mid-1947 visited Palestine in an effort to find a solution after Britain’s declaration several weeks earlier that it intended to end its Mandate over the torn country. But Britain still held responsibility for law and order and was adamant about preventing massive Jewish immigration or, alternatively, Arab military intervention before the last British soldier left the land. (59)
The Exodus affair was meant to prove to UNSCOP that only the Judaisation of Palestine was the correct solution for these and all the other Jews who had survived the horrors of the Holocaust. If they would not come to Palestine, they would have to be sent to the killing fields of Germany. The gambit proved partly successful: this ship was not allowed to disembark in Palestine and was indeed sent back. But public opinion, and especially the UN committee, now clearly associated the fate of the Jews in Europe with the future of the Zionist project in Palestine. Consequently (and also because of the overall strategic decision by the United States and the Soviet Union to support the Zionist project), the UN decided in favour of the Jewish community and recommended the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Once that was achieved, however, hardly anyone in the Zionist leadership took any more interest in the fate of the Exodus refugees, who were shipped back to Germany to face horrible conditions.
Even after the post-Zionist critics had salvaged the survivors’ point of view, few survivors actually challenged the tale told by the state about them and their fate. Their silence did not arise from fear; it was a much deeper response to the horrors they had witnessed, as has already been articulated by Arendt, Levi, and many others. Arendt highlighted silence as a defence mechanism against an inconceivable horror that overpowered ‘reality and [broke] down all strands we know’. (60) Levi pointed to the link between survival and achieving a relatively privileged position in the death camps. This uncomfortable conclusion meant, in Levi’s words, that ‘we, the survivors, are not the true witnesses’ to the Holocaust. (61)
But beyond their traumatic experiences, possibly beyond the reach of any description or analysis, the survivors who managed to make it to Israel could not obstruct, but rather had to collaborate with, the construction and manipulation of official memory. Ex post facto, they came Zionists during the Holocaust, whether they wanted to be or not, and those of the survivors who had not played an actual role in the resistance became second-rate Zionists. Worse, unless they belonged to the leadership of the communities (the Judenräte) which were incorporated into Israel’s ruling élite, the survivors were at risk of being judged for their activities in the camps. Some were brought to trial for being ex-capos (which is perhaps understandable) or for collaborating under coercion (in order to survive) in any of the hideous ways made available to inmates by the Nazis.
This insane persecution of survivors was the result of the wish to bring the Holocaust itself to trial – with very limited success. Only in 1960 did the Israelis succeed in capturing an arch-Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, and in staging a show trial the following year, which was more of a didactic move than a search for justice. But most of the architects of the Holocaust were dead, gone, or tried at Nuremberg, and in the absence of other arch-Nazis, alleged collaborators were targeted.
Such was the case of Elsa Trank, a Jewish survivor who for a while was a forced supervisor of a block in Auschwitz and, as such, did indeed contribute to the misery of her fellow prisoners. She was appointed by the Nazis to keep order in one of the camp’s shacks. Trank was identified in Israel by a survivor and brought to trial on the charge of beating her fellow prisoners. In court, it was established that she hit them with their hands, not with any weapon; she was found guilty. (62)
The Zionisation of the struggle omitted, or deleted, the daily heroic struggles of those who ‘just’ survived. The main stage for conveying this message was the Eichmann trial. The impact of this trial on the institutionalisation of Holocaust memory, when viewed from the post-Zionist perspective, added an angle of which Hannah Arendt was unaware, and which emerges forcefully in the work of Idith Zertal. She connects the trial to the impact of the manipulation and instrumentalisation of Holocaust memory on attitudes towards, and perceptions of, the Palestinians within Israeli Jewish society. The most important theme in this connection is the Nazification of the Palestinian struggle. Hence, they too became victims of this manipulation.
The Nazification of the Palestinians
Zertal exposed how the case against the Palestinians evolved out of the story of al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the exiled leader of the Palestinians who foolishly flirted with Hitler and Mussolini in hopes of forming an alliance against Britain and its pro-Zionist policies. Palestinians, however, were not the only target of this case-building, which was orchestrated and directed by the Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, during the Eichmann trial and coincided with crucial elections for his party. Also under fire was Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser. Already in 1956, Ben-Gurion had equated Nasser with Hitler: ‘The danger of the Egyptian tyrant is like that which afflicted the European Jews’, he said in the Knesset to help prepare the ground for an aggressive war against Egypt. (63)
Nasser was similarly vilified before the June 1967 War. Israeli propaganda repeatedly likened him to Hitler and raised the threat of a second Holocaust. But the focus on Nazification shifted shortly afterwards to the Palestinians in general and the PLO in particular. The most notorious incident in this respect occurred during the First Lebanon War in 1982, when Israeli troops occupied Beirut, laying siege to Yasser Arafat’s bunker. Beirut became Berlin in the last days of Nazism, Arafat was Hitler awaiting his fate in the bunker, and the PLO charter became Mein Kempf. It was the Israeli prime minister at the time, Menachem Begin, who continually used these references. On the day the invasion of Lebanon began, Begin declared, ‘The alternative to fighting is Treblinka, and we have decided there will be no more Treblinka’. (64) Even some Zionists at the time found that too much: the novelist Amos Oz wrote of Begin, ‘Again and again ... you reveal to the public eye a strange urge to resuscitate Hitler in order to kill him every day anew in the guise of terrorists’. (65)
Another of the many illuminating examples of Nazification was provided by Peter Novick, which is that the al-Husayni entry in the Israeli-American Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust is longer than that of any other person apart from Hitler! Apparently Himmler and Goering paled in comparison to the crucial role played in the destruction of the European Jews by a pathetic Palestinian leader whose sin was to serve as a wartime broadcaster to the Arab world from Berlin. (66)
A less obvious objective was to manipulate Holocaust memory in such a way as to help the political and military élites in Israel to move public opinion behind them when they needed support for taking a crucial decision during the struggle against the Arab world or fending off a real or imagined threat. From vindication of the brutal killing of Palestinians in 1948 and subsequently, in the war against Palestinian infiltrations, through the instigation of public panic on the eve of the 1967 war, to the justification of intransigent official positions on peace following the war, to the present oppressive policies against the Palestinians in the occupied territories – Holocaust memory has been a supremely useful and accessible means of silencing criticism and pushing a policy of belligerence.
And so we now arrive back in 2005, where we began this chapter. How easy, how familiar it was for the fanatical settler movement in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 to exploit Holocaust memory in order to justify its expansionist, theocratic, and racist version of Zionism, which eventually turned against the state itself.
Maintaining a Nation in Trauma
Compelling a nation to be constantly at arms was not just a matter of Nazifying the enemy – there was a need for continual angst, which could easily be conjured via Holocaust memory. Even this kind of manipulation became a subject for post-Zionist academic research. Notable among those who did such research was the philosopher Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, who asserted that a universalist commemoration of the Holocaust would liberate society from such manipulation. (67)
Even more important in this respect, however, was the work of Moshe Zukerman, a Tel Aviv University sociologist who showed how the powers that be seek to re-traumatise the newly formed Jewish society and keep alive its constant angst about a second Holocaust. Zukerman introduces as a prime example the Israeli government’s attitude during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. His book Holocaust in the Sealed Room describes in minute detail how Israeli society was unnecessarily exposed to a trauma that was meant to bring them back to the Holocaust and learn the lesson that only the Jewish state could save them from a similar fate. (68)
The sealed room, Haheder Hatum in Hebrew, refers to the safest room in the house, in which, during that 1991 war, you sought refuge from a possible chemical and biological attack. Once the siren was sounded, you ran to the room, put a gas mask on your face, and sealed the room. For many, like my later mother, the combination of gas, siren and a sealed room, was an enactment of the extermination chambers of the Holocaust; reinforced by depictions of the man who might launch such attacks, Saddam Hussein, as a new Hitler. In fact, Saddam’s army launched primitive missiles that could kill you only if they hit you directly in the head, and the only Israeli casualty of the war was an old Jew who panicked because he got entangled in his gas mask.
One important segment of Israeli Jewish society was not easily manipulated this way was the Jews from Arab and Muslim countries. When post-Zionist Mizrachi Jews engaged with the subject of the manipulation of Holocaust memory, they discovered that all the Arab Jews were victims of this official and collective manipulation. As a result, certain leading activists decided in the 1990s to commemorate the Holocaust in a new way, different from that favoured by the state.
Two of these activists, Shlomo Svirsky and Sami Shalom Chetrit, founded an academic high school that was meant to salvage the culture and value system of Jews in Arab countries while enabling its graduates to become fully matriculated. That school was named Kedma (Towards the East, in biblical Hebrew). There on Yom Hashoah, the official day of Holocaust remembrance in Israel, students commemorate not only the Holocaust but also other genocides that have taken place in the world, thus giving a more universal meaning to the event. In the official ceremony at the Yad Vashem museum, dignitaries light six candles, one for every million Jewish victims of the Holocaust – a ceremony repeated in every Israeli school. At Kedma, a seventh candle is lit for the Armenian genocide that took place during and immediately after the First World War. The additional candle also represents other persecuted minorities, such as Native Americans and African Americans. (69)
Identification with other minorities, and in particular African Americans and Native Americans, is one of the main features of the post-Zionist scholarship that has focused on Mizrachi Jews, or as they prefer to call themselves, the Arab Jews. The next chapter tells their story.
1. Quoted in Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, Cambridge: MA: South End Press, 1999, p. 99.
2. Avraham Burg, The Holocaust is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. 252.
3. Israel Shahak, letter to the editor, Kol Ha’ir (19 May 1989).
5. Shahak, Jewish History, p. 71.
6. Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinzky, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, London: Pluto, 2004, p. 105 and in Jewish History, p. x.
7. Shahak, Jewish History, p. 135, n. 25.
8. He repeated these ideas in English in Boaz Evron, ‘The Holocaust: Learning the Wrong Lessons’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 10: 3, (1981), pp. 16-26. The original quote is from Boaz Evron, ‘The Holocaust – A Danger to the People’, Iton 77, 21, (May/June 1980) (Hebrew).
11. Yehuda Elkana, ‘In Favour of Amnesia’, Ha’aretz (2 March 1988).
14. Reproduced in English in Amos Elon, ‘The Politics of Memory’, New York Review of Books, (7 October 1993).
15. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, Boston: Mariner Books, 1999; Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, London: Verso, 2003; and Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, Westport: Lawrence Hill and Co., 1983.
16. Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, p. 10.
17. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, p. 47.
18. Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, New York: Picador, 2000, appeared first in Hebrew and was the only direct reference in Hebrew to these connections. An even more explicit condemnation can be found in Moshe Zimmermann, ‘The Zionist Dilemma’, Ha’aretz, (28 October 2004).
19. Ahimeir’s references are quoted in Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, p. 125; Ben-Avi’s appeared in sequence in Doar Ha-Yom, August and November 1932.
20. See Segev, The Seventh Million, p. 33.
22. Hava Eshkoli-Wagman, ‘Yishuz Zionism: Its Attitude to Nazism and the Third Reich Reconsidered’, Modern Judaism, 19: 1, (February 1999), pp. 25-6.
24. He published his books in Germany and then they were translated into Hebrew. The most recent in which these views are articulated clearly is German Against Germans: The Fate of the Jews, 1938-1945, Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2013 (Hebrew).
25. One local newspaper, yerusahlaim (part of Yeidoh Ahronoth) claimed Zimmermann compared the settler youth to the Hitler-Jugend movement (22 September 1995). Zimmermann sued the paper for misrepresentation, but lost the case on 3 February 2005.
26. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators.
27. Ibid., p. 93.
28. Joseph Massad, ‘The Last of Semites’, Al Jazeera English, (21 May 2013).
29. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, p. 93 and Segev, The Seventh Million, p. 31.
31. David Ben-Gurion’s Speech, Labour Party Archives, Beit Berl, Mapai Secretariat (7 December 1938).
32. Segev, The Seventh Million, p. 83.
33. The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, directed by Benny Brunner, 1995.
34. Mark Edelman, Resisting the Holocaust: Fighting Back in the Warsaw Ghetto, London: Ocean, 2004; Idith Zertal, Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
35. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, London: Verso, 1983; Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge: Canto Books, 1983.
36. Edelman, Resisting the Holocaust.
37. Quoted in Zertal, Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, p. 35.
38. Ibid., pp. 54-6.
40. Anderson, Imagined Communities, p. 57.
41. Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, New York: Abacus, 1988, pp. 78-85.
42. Quoted in Zertal, Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, p. 27.
43. Ibid., p. 28.
44. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, New York: Viking, 1968.
45. See Yair Auron, The Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide, New York: Transactions Publishers, 2001.
46. Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, ‘The Morality of Acknowledging/Not-acknowledging the Other’s Holocaust/Genocide’, Journal of Moral Education, 27:2 (1998), p. 161.
47. Adi Ofir, ‘On “Hidush Ha-Shem”: The Holocaust as an Anti-Theological Tract’, Politika, 8, (1986), pp. 4-5 (Hebrew). Hilul Ha-Shem means sacrilegious. Ha-Shem is one of God’s names, and Hidush means Renewal.
48. See Eyal Sivan, Yizkor.
49. Nurith Gertz, ‘The Early Israeli Cinema as Silencer of Memory’, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 24:1 (Fall 2005)
51. This is the excellent summary of Milton Viorst, ‘After the Fact: A Review of The Seventh Million’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 24:2 (Winter 1995), p. 94; see also Segev, The Seventh Million, pp. 123-40.
52. Hannah Yablonka, ‘The Development of Holocaust Consciousness in Israel: The Nuremberg, Kapos, Kastner, and Eichmann Trials’, Israel Studies, 8:3, (Fall 2003).
53. Idith Zertal, From Catastrophe to Power: The Holocaust Survivors and the Emergence of Israel, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998.
54. Yosef Grodzinsky, Good Human Material: Jews Against Zionists, 1945-1951, Tel Aviv: Ma’ariv, 1998 (Hebrew).
55. See the episode described in Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951, p. 31.
56. Grodzinsky, Good Human Material.
57. Aviva Halamish, The Exodus Affair: Holocaust Survivors and the Struggle for Palestine, Albany, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998.
58. M.M. Silver, Our Exodus: Leon Uris and the Americanisation of Israel’s Founding Story, Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2010.
59. See Pappe, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951, pp. 24-5.
60. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, p. 229.
61. Quoted and discussed in Nicholas Patruno, Understanding Primo Levi, Miami, FL: University of South California Press, 1995, p. 122.
62. See Yablonka, ‘The Development of a Holocaust Consciousness in Israel’ and Zertal, Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, pp. 69-71.
63. Ibid., pp. 196-8.
64. Quoted in an interview he gave to Yeidoth Ahronoth on 18 June 1982.
65. Amos Oz, ‘Hitler is Already Dead, My Prime Minister’, Yeidoth Ahronoth, (21 June 1982).
66. Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, p. 158.
67. Gur-Ze’ev, ‘The Morality of Acknowledging/Not-acknowledging the Other’s Holocaust/Genocide’.
68. Moshe Zuckermann, Shoah in the Sealed Room: The ‘Holocaust’ in the Israeli Press During the Gulf War, Tel Aviv: self-publication 1993 (Hebrew).
69. Also this year this alternative ceremony took place in the school.