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Changing Representations of National Identity and Political Legitimacy: Independence Day Celebrations in Israel, 1952–1998

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The construction of meaning and the invention of tradition always take place within a social and political context. Hence, the apolitical purpose of memory and the apolitical utility of national identity, in a broad sense, are linked to power; to the myriad and diverse efforts to maintain, stabilise and perpetuate that power. Focusing on official acts of commemoration, this article explores how political legitimacy—the primary basis for stabilising power—is reflected in and constructed by the constitution of national identity that is linked, in turn, to the definition of collective memory. To this end, the author examines the link between the official articulations of political legitimacy and the official constructions of the nation in Israel, and how these have changed over time. This is accomplished by providing a systematic reading of the texts constituted by the main Independence Day celebration in Israel—in particular, the ceremony known as the ‘Lighting of the Torches'—during the first fifty years of Israeli sovereignty (1952–1998).

Keywords: Commemoration; Independence Day; Israel; National Identity; Symbols

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2005

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