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Lecture 6

Lecture 6

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Emanuel Adler

Lecture 6 – Myth and Reality in the Construction of Israel’s Identity – 18/10/11 Amos Oz – The Sabra There is always an idea of deliverence – what happened in Egypt is the same as is what is happening in the modern myth Myth 2 - Few facing many – David vs Goliath – All the events of Jewish identity can be linked to this idea of few vs many Myth 3 – Binding of Isaac – Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed – The Israelis are said to be taken to the altar of the nation – The people know what the sacrifice is about – it’s about fathers and sons in Israel – The return to Zion is a redemption Myth 5 – Ancient right to Israel – provides them with a self-explanation of why they are all in Israel, despite differences – Gives them a reason to keep many of the biblical lands – conflict between the settlers and their opponents is about the breadth and reach of biblical Zion – (Go over these) Zerubavel bases her thesis on the collective memory of one group vis- à-vis other groups – collective memory draws on historical sources to create a selective but creative narrative – this allows the group to recognise itself through time – it continuously negotiates between current social and political agendas and historical texts – the interpretation shifts and emphasises different aspects of the historical record Each act of commemoration reproduces a commemorative narrative and a story about a particular past – The master commemorative narrative focuses on the group’s distinct social identity and its historical development and therefore contributes to the construction of the nation as it moves through history Gives a system of periodisation that imposes a certain order on the past and creates a dialogue between the past and the present – it also involves collective amnesia, certain events that memory suppresses She argues that this is how Zionists interpreted the past and created their identity – divided into three periods a) Antiquity b) Exile c) National Revival – they forgot exile and created a bridge between antiquity and modern times – Exile was negative because there was an absence of the bond with the land – The suppression of 18 centuries of Jewish history overlooks the vast differences between different Jews – For them, it was a long dark, unhistorical period – The only salvage was the longing for the land of Zion Antiquity, on the other hand, was a time where the Jewish nation flourished and had autonomy – Zionism portrayed the Sabra as the strong symbol of the Jewish man – It created myths about these events - Haqshama – Tel Hai – settlement on the Western frontier of Galilee – March 1 1920 – Arabs were looking for French soldiers in a compound and killed 8 Jews – Joseph Trumpeldor was a hero of the Russian-Japanese war on 1904-5 and was among the dead – He said ‘nevermind, it’s good to die for your country’ – the emergence of the new Jew, which Trumpeldor was meant to symbolise – The main idea of the myth was a break from the past – They symbolised the revolt from the usual image of the ‘ghetto-ised Jew’ – Also fit into the myth of the few against many – It became a site of pilgrimage – The quote came to become a rite of passage to get into the IDF – Haqshama became so important to Jewish identity that normal life seems empty if it is not accompanies by service to the nation and working in settlements Why was it chosen? – Trumpeldor’s willingness to die for his country – traumatic, dramatic event – excellent example of few against many It gave Trumpeldor an air of antiquity – National myths are important during the formativ
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