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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 politicans, 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.
List of Illustrations Preface Introduction
Pt. 1: History, Collective Memory, and Countermemory
Ch. 1: The Dynamics of Collective Remembering Ch. 2: The Zionist Reconstruction of the Past The Zionist Periodization of Jewish History Exile: Suppressed Nationhood, Discredited Past Locating the Nation: Antiquity and the National Revival Historical Continuity/Symbolic Discontinuities Historical Turning Points: Liminality and Transitions
Pt. 2: The Birth of National Myths
Ch. 3: The Battle of Tel Hai A New Commemorative Tradition A Myth of New Beginning Ch. 4: The Bar Kokhba Revolt Dual Image and Transformed Memory Archeological Findings and Symbolic Roots Ch. 5: The Fall of Masada The Rediscovery of Masada A Myth of Fighting to the Bitter End Masada and the Holocaust as Countermetaphors
Pt. 3: Literature, Ritual, and the Invention of Tradition
Hebrew Literature and Education Ch. 6: The Arm, the Plow, and the Gun Tel Hai: From "History" to "Legend"
The Rebirth of the Native Hebrew The Patriotic Legacy of Heroic Death Ch. 7: Bar Kokhba, the Bonfire, and the Lion From Mourning to Celebration The Lag ba-Omer Bonfires Bar Kokhba and the Lion Invented Tradition: The Old and the New Ch. 8: The Rock and the Vow
"Never Again Shall Masada Fall!"
A New Hebrew Pilgrimage Climbing Up as a Patriotic Ritual Between Ruins and Texts The State's Sponsorship of Memory The Tourist Consumption of a Folk Tradition Calendars and Sites as Commemorative Loci
Pt. 4: Politics of Commemoration
Ch. 9: Tel Hai and the Meaning of Pioneering The Plow versus the Gun A Patriot's Legacy or a Victim's Curse?
Jewish Settlements and the Politics of Withdrawal Jokes and the Subversion of Myth Humor, Wars, and Political Protest Ch. 10: The Bar Kokhba Revolt and the Meaning of Defeat Patriotic Dreams and Political Reality Archeology, Religion, and the War of the Bones State Commemoration and Political Frictions Ch. 11: Masada and the Meaning of Death The Tragic Commemorative Narrative The Historical Debate: Between Facts and Fiction The Traditionalist Debate: Masada versus Yavne The Legal Debate: Suicide or Martyrdom?
The Activist Critique: Heroism or Escapism?
The Political Debate: Realism or a "Complex"
Conclusion: History, Memory, and Invented Tradition Memory, Myth Plot Structures, and the Holiday Cycle The Construction of Narrative Boundaries Turning Points and Multiple Meanings The Frailty of Invented Tradition From Collective Memory to Multiple Memories Notes Bibliography Index
Posted December 6, 2001