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Victimization's Boundaries and the Hierarchy of Loss: Terror Victims on the Fading and Revival of the Republican Bereavement Discourse / גבולות הוויקטימיזציה ועיצוב ההיררכיה של השכול: חללי הטרור אל מול דעיכתו ותקומתו של שיח השכול הרפובליקני

אודי לבל and Udi Lebel
Democratic Culture / תרבות דמוקרטית
Vol. 14 (תשע"ב / 2012), pp. 153-200
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24146648
Page Count: 48
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Victimization's Boundaries and the Hierarchy of Loss: Terror Victims on the Fading and Revival of the Republican Bereavement Discourse / גבולות הוויקטימיזציה ועיצוב ההיררכיה של השכול: חללי הטרור אל מול דעיכתו ותקומתו של שיח השכול הרפובליקני
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Abstract

With Israel's exposure to the postmodern climate, the public rhetoric of military bereavement assumed elements of privatization, postnationalism, politicization, and most of all, victimization — which presented the fallen and their bereaved families as victims of the social order and security policy. Bereaved opinionleaders worked toward cultural "liberation" from the "binding ethos" of the hegemonic bereavement model. They constantly exploited the special status they had gained by joining the "family of bereavement," and promoted antiestablishment messages through a range of social movements and political protest organizations. In tandem, the heads of the representative bereavement organizations worked for instrumental-financial liberation from their dependence on the rehabilitation and compensation institutions, and battled to annul several conditions for entitlement to state support. Each group defined its nation as the "aggressor" responsible for its victimhood: for its experienced bereavement, and for its enforced co-option into a range of pro-hegemony behaviors. A new category then formed in the Israeli bereavement sphere, the families of terror-victims who refused to function as a discrete group, and sought to join the "family of bereavement." Ostensibly, the spokespeople of the "new bereavement" instantly ceased drawing on the post-national-liberal rhetoric, and reclaimed the discourse grounded on the foundations of republican citizenship and cultural militarism — the same organizing values they had previously undermined. The heads of the representative bereavement organizations, as well as bereaved public-opinion leaders, erected cultural barriers and charted symbolic boundaries to keep out the families of terror victims. Both groups attempted to circumvent Israel's "silver platter," closing off and distancing those seeking to enter, and stressing that entry was reserved for those in uniform. This resulted in the interesting paradox discussed in the article: the activity of bereaved military families being aimed at preserving their exclusive right to define themselves as victims of the "security situation." It is a glocal phenomenon, with the inherent desire to adopt postnational, subversive behavior and simultaneously to confer national societal prominence on those adopting it, if they conform to significant national-republican-militaristic parameters. For the bereaved military families, it seems that public victimization has a limit — its very association with the military institution. Alongside that activity, attempts to integrate civilian bereavement with its military counterpart have resuscitated the hegemonic ethos of bereavement and the republican-militaristic discourse of bereavement. Notwithstanding the prevalent perception in recent years that "bereavement is dead" and that Israeli society has abandoned military bereavement as a significant component of identity and politics, the article demonstrates the "return" of military bereavement as a significant component of Israeli political culture.

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