Contested Nakba narratives as an ongoing process
Ronit Lentin

6 Historicising the Nakba: contested Nakba narratives as an ongoing process1 The work of the historian is temporary, not absolute, and historiography must be understood as accumulative, as every historian and every generation of historians adds another layer, another piece of information for an ever increasing basis of knowledge. (Morris 2000: 148). The Nakba, the disastrous uprooting from the homeland and the destruction of the villages, always existed in the personal and collective memory of the Palestinian citizens of Israel (Habib Buolos, cited by Elgazi

in Co-memory and melancholia
Ronit Lentin

8 Melancholia, Nakba co-memory and the politics of return Introduction In publicising its activities, Zochrot emphasises the shift from denial to Israeli acknowledgement of the Nakba, rightly arguing that denial is no longer tenable. Chapter 7 discussed the performance of co-memory through an analysis of Zochrot’s commemorative practices. This chapter revisits the link between melancholia, race, memory, identity, and politics. Zionist state memory construction involved the creation of myths in the foundation of culture, society and nation (Ohana and Wistrich

in Co-memory and melancholia
Israelis memorialising the Palestinian Nakba
Author: Ronit Lentin

The 1948 war that led to the creation of the State of Israel also resulted in the destruction of Palestinian society, when some 80 per cent of the Palestinians who lived in the major part of Palestine upon which Israel was established became refugees. Israelis call the 1948 war their ‘War of Independence’ and the Palestinians their ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe. After many years of Nakba denial, land appropriation, political discrimination against the Palestinians within Israel and the denial of rights to Palestinian refugees, in recent years the Nakba is beginning to penetrate Israeli public discourse. This book explores the construction of collective memory in Israeli society, where the memory of the trauma of the Holocaust and of Israel's war dead competes with the memory claims of the dispossessed Palestinians. Taking an auto-ethnographic approach, it makes a contribution to social memory studies through a critical evaluation of the co-memoration of the Palestinian Nakba by Israeli Jews. Against a background of the Israeli resistance movement, the book's central argument is that co-memorating the Nakba by Israeli Jews is motivated by an unresolved melancholia about the disappearance of Palestine and the dispossession of the Palestinians, a melancholia which shifts mourning from the lost object to the grieving subject. The book theorises Nakba co-memory as a politics of resistance, counterpoising co-memorative practices by internally displaced Israeli Palestinians with Israeli Jewish discourses of the Palestinian right of return, and questions whether return narratives by Israeli Jews are ultimately about Israeli Jewish self-healing.

Ronit Lentin

neither ‘categorial murder’ nor genocide, the Nakba has been described variously as ‘ethnic cleansing’ (Pappe 2006) or ‘spaciocide’ (Hanafi 2005), perpetrated by people categorising themselves as ‘Jews’, ‘Zionists’ or Memory sites, postmemory, co-memory 21 ‘Israeli Jews’, against people categorised as ‘Palestinians’, ‘Arabs’, and later ‘Israeli Arabs’. Not unlike the Holocaust for Jewish people, which changed the condition of modernity, the Nakba is a foundational event for the Palestinians, a memory and a narrative standing for a series of catastrophic events whose

in Co-memory and melancholia
Ronit Lentin

listening and not listening to mother’s family stories about ‘there’, I also grew up, as I write in Chapter 4, with the ‘background music’ of the Haifa Nakba. Haifa’s Palestinians were not ‘present absentees’ – a term coined by the 1950 Absentees’ Property Law for Palestinians who left their homes and lands in 1948 regardless of the reason (Masalha 2005: 13) - but rather ‘absent presentees’, there but not there. Like for other Israeli Ashkenazi middleclass Jews of my generation, Arabs were shadows, whose existence was indelibly rooted, as Benvenisti (1988) writes, in our

in Co-memory and melancholia
Abstract only
Nakba co-memory as performance
Ronit Lentin

7 Zochrot: Nakba co-memory as performance Zochrot is part of a development in Israeli Jewish society that for the past several years gradually enables speaking about the Nakba. It is probably a question of time, a younger generation had to grow up that is more willing to deal with the dark sides of its grandparents’ history. There is academic research, there are films and newspaper articles dealing with the Nakba, and in this climate an organisation like Zochrot was able to start working. So, in a sense, Zochrot fills an existing need, and its existence creates

in Co-memory and melancholia
Abstract only
Living in the shadow
Ronit Lentin

1 Introduction: living in the shadow All biographies like all autobiographies like all narratives tell one story in place of another story. (Hélène Cixous 1997: 178) Each one of us, Israelis and Jews, has a shadow, the shadow of the 1948 Palestinian refugees. (Uri Davis 1994: 190) Prologue: May 2008 - exile and last journey? Feelings of doom have accompanied the preparations for my visit to observe the 60th anniversary of the Nakba and Israeli independence. It feels like my last chance to witness the contradictory rituals of the Israelis celebrating their

in Co-memory and melancholia
Ronit Lentin

shield. Five years after the war ... I went to inspect the village well of Rana, near Beit Jibrin. I remembered the place from a trip with my father, and the desolation – the empty houses still standing, the ghost of a village once bustling with life - stunned me. I sat with my back against an old water trough and wondered where the villagers were and what they were feeling. (Meron Benvenisti 2000: 3) Introduction Any attempt to understand the contemporary use of the term Nakba among 1 left- leaning Jewish Israelis requires tracing the development of the

in Co-memory and melancholia
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Telling autoethnographic stories
Ronit Lentin

4 The fall of Haifa: telling autoethnographic stories I am as much constituted by those I grieve for as by those whose deaths I disavow, whose nameless, faceless deaths form the melancholic background for my social world. (Judith Butler 2004: 46) May 2008 Since Mother died visiting Haifa has been a strange experience. Haifa never really felt like home yet as I grow older, and due to my research into Nakba co-memoration, visits are becoming more emotionally charged, as I mourn my disappearing birthplace. On our way back from the Association of the Internally

in Co-memory and melancholia
Israel as a role model in liberal thought
Uriya Shavit and Ofir Winter

, commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the nakba provides an example. In the article she laments the unfortunate discrepancy created over time between Arabs and Israel in terms of sound administration and law and order. ‘The Zionist gangs’, she writes, have become a prosperous democratic state, albeit racist and conquering, with laws and responsible institutions that demand answers from the leaders; on the other hand, Arab countries have transformed from states into gangs.38 The trial of former Israeli President Moshe Katsav, in which he was convicted of rape, ended around

in Zionism in Arab discourses