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Exile from national identity: memory exclusion as political

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Historiography and national memory are not social institutions that formed spontaneously, democratically or pluralistically, but rational projects featuring power relationships, shaped by actors promoting political interests through it and legitimizing their preferential social status and political dominance. The research follows the Israeli Labor Movement's attempts to present the statehood project and the war for independence as achievements owed solely to the Hagana (an underground organization affiliated to the labor movement on the eve of statehood). Insistent efforts distanced from national memory any mention of two other underground movements, affiliated with the rival Revisionist Movement, that after statehood became political Party. The article indicates the memory-screening strategies applied, illuminating the ruling party's conscious attempts to make the public memory and public historiography controllable resources and to exclude political rivals from the national pantheon. Also described is the establishment's meticulousness supervision of national historiography, including history textbooks and commemorative literature. The paper tracks failed attempts by marginalized groups to enter the public memory, and their subsequent launch of an 'alternative memory arena' competing with the establishment's memory.
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Keywords: Israel; bereavement; exclusion; legitimacy; memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sapir College & Ariel University Centre, Israel

Publication date: 01 September 2009

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