The role of holocaust memory in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

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The public memory of the Jewish Holocaust at the hands of Nazi Germans has become a reference point for debates about national identity and ethical responsibility on a global scale but nowhere more than in the Middle East. The state of Israel bases its national identity narrative to a large extent on the Shoah, with the Yad Vashem museum and further Holocaust remembrance events and sites as symbolic “anchors” for the close linkage between the creation of the state of Israel and the suffering of the Holocaust victims as well as Jewish participation in the “struggle against the Nazi evil” (Declaration of Independence 1948).
Reactions to this legitimising narrative of Israel’s national identity in the Arab and Palestinian public have ranged from the absolute denial of the historical reality of the Jewish Holocaust to claims that since 1948, Palestinians have been suffering a new or, indeed, the only ‘true’ Holocaust in form of the Nakba and continuing occupation and victimization at the hand of Israel. Such claims have generated international sympathetic reactions (which even included West German terrorists’ attempts to justify anti-Jewish actions in Germany as proof of their solidarity with the victims of the “Palestinian holocaust”).
In view of such far-ranging instrumentalisation of the Holocaust as a topic of public discourse, it seems promising to investigate the question of whether Holocaust-memory has by now acquired the status of an identity-legitimizing metaphor scenario that is largely detached from its historical origins and is an obstacle to conflict resolution in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Israeli Conflict System
Subtitle of host publicationAnalytic Approaches
EditorsHarvey Starr, Stanley Dubinsky
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-1-13-891243-4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2015

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Middle Eastern Politics


  • Arab
  • Argumentation
  • Conflict system
  • Conflict resolution
  • Metaphor
  • Holocaust
  • Memory culture
  • Middle East
  • Discourse

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