Document Type

Article

Creation Date

Spring 3-14-2014

Abstract

The increase in memorialization of the Holocaust, starting in the 1970’s, indicates that it is a process that is becoming more institutionalized and not routinized or forgotten. The Holocaust continues to maintain a prominent place in Israeli discourse through education, in the media, in political speech, in the news, in commemoration practices, and through memorials. The focus by many scholars on the trauma of Holocaust collective memory is problematic: it portrays Jewish-Israelis as victims of the past, linking them to general issues of victimization such as a lack of agency to deal with the present, and it assumes that the collective to whom this memory belongs is homogenously affected by it.

Yet, in the field of social psychology, where within-group differences have been studied, limited research has been conducted that suggests there are different ways in which Holocaust collective memory has been construed and utilized within the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What surfaces among these psychological studies is that there is a heterogeneous response to the Holocaust and its memory. Individuals who identify with the same collective may be able to conceive of the same trauma in different ways, some drawing more particularistic, group-based lessons from it, others more universalistic.

The significance of my research lies in its development of a more complex understanding of the aftermath of the Holocaust in Israel that brings a renewed focus on the ways in which its collective memory is not necessarily traumatic, but can also be a source of resilience, agency, and recovery. This paper highlights only a fragment of findings from the research, focusing on the thematic analysis of narrative interviews of 35 Jewish-Israelis. Themes of agency and non-agency are discussed within the context of lessons learned from the Holocaust.

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