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Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition / Edition 2

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Because new nations need new pasts, they create new ways of commemorating and recasting select historic events. In Recovered Roots, Yael Zerubavel illuminates this dynamic process by examining the construction of Israeli national tradition. In the years leading to the birth of Israel, Zerubavel shows, Zionist settlers in Palestine consciously sought to rewrite Jewish history by reshaping Jewish memory. Zerubavel focuses on the nationalist reinterpretation of the defense of Masada against the Romans in 73 C.E. and the Bar Kokhba revolt of 133-135; and on the transformation of the 1920 defense of a new Jewish settlement in Tel Hai into a national myth. Zerubavel demonstrates how, in each case, Israeli memory transforms events that ended in death and defeat into heroic myths and symbols of national revival. Drawing on a broad range of official and popular sources and original interviews, Zerubavel shows that the construction of a new national tradition is not necessarily the product of government policy but a creative collaboration between politicians, writers, and educators. Her discussion of the politics of commemoration demonstrates how rival groups can turn the past into an arena of conflict as they posit competing interpretations of history and opposing moral claims on the use of the past. Zerubavel analyzes the emergence of counter-memories within the reality of Israel's frequent wars, the ensuing debates about the future of the occupied territories, and the embattled relations with Palestinians. A fascinating examination of the interplay between history and memory, this book will appeal to historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and folklorists, as well as to scholars of cultural studies, literature, and communication.
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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
The author explores the Zionist drive to construct a new national Hebrew culture which grew out of the early immigrants' unique interpretation of the Jewish past. Three cases are used as the foci of the study -- the fall of Masada, the Bar Kokhba revolt and the defense of Tel Hai. The conclusion is that the study of history and memory touches a sensitive nerve of Israeli society that helps shed light onsignificant changes of its national culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226981574
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Pt. 1 History, Collective Memory, and Countermemory
Ch. 1 The Dynamics of Collective Remembering 3
Ch. 2 The Zionist Reconstruction of the Past 13
The Zionist Periodization of Jewish History 15
Exile: Suppressed Nationhood, Discredited Past 17
Locating the Nation: Antiquity and the National Revival 22
Historical Continuity/Symbolic Discontinuities 31
Historical Turning Points: Liminality and Transitions 33
Pt. 2 The Birth of National Myths
Ch. 3 The Battle of Tel Hai 39
A New Commemorative Tradition 41
A Myth of New Beginning 43
Ch. 4 The Bar Kokhba Revolt 48
Dual Image and Transformed Memory 49
Archeological Findings and Symbolic Roots 56
Ch. 5 The Fall of Masada 60
The Rediscovery of Masada 62
A Myth of Fighting to the Bitter End 68
Masada and the Holocaust as Countermetaphors 70
Pt. 3 Literature, Ritual, and the Invention of Tradition
Hebrew Literature and Education 79
Ch. 6 The Arm, the Plow, and the Gun 84
Tel Hai: From "History" to "Legend" 84
The Rebirth of the Native Hebrew 86
The Patriotic Legacy of Heroic Death 91
Ch. 7 Bar Kokhba, the Bonfire, and the Lion 96
From Mourning to Celebration 96
The Lag ba-Omer Bonfires 101
Bar Kokhba and the Lion 103
Invented Tradition: The Old and the New 110
Ch. 8 The Rock and the Vow 114
"Never Again Shall Masada Fall!" 114
A New Hebrew Pilgrimage 119
Climbing Up as a Patriotic Ritual 125
Between Ruins and Texts 127
The State's Sponsorship of Memory 129
The Tourist Consumption of a Folk Tradition 133
Calendars and Sites as Commemorative Loci 138
Pt. 4 Politics of Commemoration
Ch. 9 Tel Hai and the Meaning of Pioneering 147
The Plow versus the Gun 148
A Patriot's Legacy or a Victim's Curse? 157
Jewish Settlements and the Politics of Withdrawal 160
Jokes and the Subversion of Myth 167
Humor, Wars, and Political Protest 173
Ch. 10 The Bar Kokhba Revolt and the Meaning of Defeat 178
Patriotic Dreams and Political Reality 179
Archeology, Religion, and the War of the Bones 185
State Commemoration and Political Frictions 189
Ch. 11 Masada and the Meaning of Death 192
The Tragic Commemorative Narrative 192
The Historical Debate: Between Facts and Fiction 197
The Traditionalist Debate: Masada versus Yavne 200
The Legal Debate: Suicide or Martyrdom? 203
The Activist Critique: Heroism or Escapism? 207
The Political Debate: Realism or a "Complex" 209
Conclusion: History, Memory, and Invented Tradition 214
Memory, Myth Plot Structures, and the Holiday Cycle 216
The Construction of Narrative Boundaries 221
Turning Points and Multiple Meanings 229
The Frailty of Invented Tradition 232
From Collective Memory to Multiple Memories 235
Notes 239
Bibliography 299
Index 325
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2001


    This is an overly parochial book. It fails to take a broader look at what it purports to cover.

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