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Israel and the Holocaust Trauma

Robert S. Wistrich
Jewish History
Vol. 11, No. 2 (Fall, 1997), pp. 13-20
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20101298
Page Count: 8
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Israel and the Holocaust Trauma
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Abstract

The Holocaust has come to replace the founding myths of the Jewish State as a major source of its raison d'être and of Jewish identity in both Israel and the Diaspora. This has reinforced the Israeli will for survival and helped to politicize Diaspora Jewry but it also poses new problems and dilemmas. The instrumentalizing of the Holocaust goes against the desire of classical Zionism to normalize the status of the Jews and leads to distrust of the Gentile world as a whole. It has at times produced a syndrome of claiming immunity from outside criticism, even encouraging isolationism and paranoia. In the Diaspora, transforming the Holocaust into a civic religion and excessive emphasis on its singularity have somtimes created resentment from other groups fighting for recognition of their victim status. In Israel the institutionalizing of the Holocaust tends to reinforce national particularism, while in the Diaspora there is a greater need to universalize and "de-judaize" its message. The Holocaust will remain an inextricable part of Israeli and Jewish consciousness, reinforced by the memory of persecution throughout Jewish history and the intensity of the Middle East conflict, but transforming it into a unifying myth carries with it the danger of strengthening isolationism and negative thinking. /// [Abstract in Hebrew].

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