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5 - A Past That Does Not Pass

from Part II - The Landscape of Memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 May 2021

Grace Wermenbol
Affiliation:
Middle East Institute
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Summary

Through a study of the most prominent Holocaust institutes in Israel – Yad Vashem, Lohamei Hagetaot, and Yad Mordechai – Chapter 5 demonstrates that Holocaust mnemonic rituals serve a defined political purpose, namely the justification of the need for a strong and independent Israeli state as the only viable way to hinder a recurrence of the Holocaust. The deliberate usage of teleological architecture at Yad Mordecai and Yad Vashem seeks to inspire a redemptive visitor experience through a regulated physical move from the exhibited darkness and catastrophe of Europe to the light and rebirth in Israel, the former destroyed; the latter victorious. The emphasis on a Jewish rebirth in the wake of the Holocaust in the institutes’ historical exhibits and in annual commemorative ceremonies prompts the merging of the dissonant categories of victim and victor, forming a metaphorical testimony to what Martin Jaffee described as “the victim-community” in which “the victim is always both victim and victor.” Beyond the overt minimization of the fate of non-Jewish victims and post-Holocaust diasporic Jewry, the Zionist panacea channeled at the memory sites demands a foregoing of the physical Palestinian history of the three sites themselves. As a result, visitors to the historic exhibits and participants in annual mnemonic rituals continue to take part in a cultural palimpsest as they are propelled to remember the physically superimposed Jewish watershed rather than the Nakba.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Tale of Two Narratives
The Holocaust, the Nakba, and the Israeli-Palestinian Battle of Memories
, pp. 191 - 224
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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