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The Collapse of Liberal Zionism

Summer is over in Israel and so too the holiday season that includes Yom Kippur and Sukkot with their accompanying prayers of remembrance. Memory is integral to most Jewish holidays. The readings at Passover and the lighting of candles at Hanukkah are collective acts of remembrance. The importance of remembering has always been central to Jewish self-identity. As Jonathan Safran Foer would have it: ‘Jews have six senses. Touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing … memory.’

But here there are also holidays specific to the State of Israel, traditions linked to Zionist history. These include Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers, Jerusalem Day which celebrates the ‘reunification’ of Jerusalem, and Independence Day. This is not to mention other days marked in the calendar to honour Zionist icons such as Herzl, Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky, and Rabin. And of course, there is Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Israel, collective remembrance linked to a sense of national identity and a dominant narrative of history is ritualised and institutionalised; the days are sacred milestones in the calendar year. Nakba Day, as commemorated by Palestinians, is not one of them.

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