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

3 Memory and melancholia This world has been destroyed forever. And my heart often cries when I recall it. Because it was part of my life, my childhood, and it had beauty and connections. Not only fear, not only death. Many of us loved the villages we detonated, that world gone forever. (Haim Guri 2004: 189, emphasis added) After the 1967 war I went to the Shuafat refugee camp as part of my work in order to study its problems ... I asked those who attended the meeting about their villages ... and suddenly another geography, the geography of my childhood, was

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
Contested Nakba narratives as an ongoing process
Ronit Lentin

about melancholia in Chapter 3 and of the narratives of realisation discussed in Chapter 5, I conclude by interrogating the identitarian duality of Israeli Jewish victimhood and guilt. ‘New historians’ and contested narratives Benny Morris says he was always a Zionist. People who branded him postZionist, who thought that his historical study of the birth of the refugee problem aimed to undermine the Zionist enterprise were simply wrong. Nonsense, Morris says, some readers simply misread the book [...] Therefore they reached the wrong conclusion, that when Morris

in Co-memory and melancholia
Matrilinearity, Sufism, and l’errance in the autofictional works of Abdellah Taïa
Alberto Fernández Carbajal

’s postcolonial queer melancholia, and to the theme of l’errance – errancy or wandering – in An Arab Melancholia , which performs a queer assemblage of cultures and temporalities validating his position as a gay, Moroccan, Muslim, Arab man. Moroccan society’s negation of the homosexual citizen, I suggest, triggers religious doubt in Taïa’s autobiographical self and a desperate embrace of matrilineal and Sufi versions of Islam posited at a remove from mainstream Islamicate normativity. Despite his repeated gestures towards interethnic homoeroticism, which chimes with the work

in Queer Muslim diasporas in contemporary literature and film
Abstract only
Living in the shadow
Ronit Lentin

taken upon myself the duty to account, to take to account, as both my birthright and my mission. Yet for the first time, the journey feels ominous, almost terminal. I feel a sudden pang of yearning for mother – her last few years in a home meant I was not free to immerse myself as I have done in the past four years 2 Co-memory and melancholia since her death when I was staying with Nitza in Jerusalem. Here I have total freedom to indulge my politics openly. Louis s parting words, ‘go to the Sea of Galilee, you might have a conversion’, said with a sad smile, make me

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

to critically evaluate Zochrot, I agreed that citing her without her explicit permission amounted to appropriating the Palestinian voice, one of my main points of criticism of the relationship between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. No extent of autoethnographically situating myself within my research text can undo the unequal power relations between researcher and researched, and, more specifically, between a western-based Israeli Jewisn academic, and a member of the colonising majority, and a local Palestinian informant. 128 Co-memory and melancholia Zochrot

in Co-memory and melancholia
Ronit Lentin

historiography of this contested term which I deal with in Chapter 6. In this chapter I discuss the construction of the reawakening of the Israeli Jewish memory of the Nakba as a ‘road to Damascus’ tale told by post- and antiZionist Israeli Jews – the realisation that the story of the birth of the state was not a story of liberation and redemption but involved the colonisation and 88 Co-memory and melancholia subjugation of another people. For Benvenisti and for me, as for many others, that moment of realisation dates back to the wake of the 1967 war. More commonly, however

in Co-memory and melancholia
Ronit Lentin

active co-memorative work are neither Nakba perpetrators nor their direct descendants, which complicates the notion 22 Co-memory and melancholia of postmemory, linking it to both a reconstruction of collective memory and to Nora’s ‘memory sites’. As all narratives ‘tell one story in place of another story’, I ask whether Israeli Nakba co-memoration, mediated, as Hirsch suggests in relation to second-generation Holocaust ‘re-memories’, through testimonies, photographs, films, books, and distinguished from memory by generational distance and from history by deep

in Co-memory and melancholia
Abstract only
Telling autoethnographic stories
Ronit Lentin

, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, into which the Empire imported Jews to form the commercial and cultural German-speaking elite. In 1984 I visited Gura Humorlui, a modest small town on the edge of the Carpathians, where I met two of Father’s elderly cousins who stayed in postwar Romania. Like other Jews who remained in 68 Co-memory and melancholia northern Romania in little towns that once had a Jewish majority, they led a precarious existence in what they did not know then were the last years of Ceaușescu’s regime of terror. The synagogues lay empty and

in Co-memory and melancholia