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Israel and the Holocaust – Tom Segev

 

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For many painful years the Holocaust was a taboo in Israel: parents wouldn’t talk to their children about it, the children wouldn’t dare to ask. Following the trial of former SS Officer Adolf Eichmann opened in Jerusalem in 1961, the Holocaust gradually became what it is today: a central element of the Israeli identity. Eight out of 10 Israeli high school students say they regard themselves as Holocaust survivors. New sections of the Israeli society, including ultra-orthodox Jews and even Israeli Arabs now also regard the Holocaust as part of their identity.

The Holocaust plays a significant role in Israel’s public discourse, including its moral and political dilemmas; not a day passes without some reference to the Holocaust in the Israeli media. But in order to get to the bottom of this phenomenon it is essential to distinguish between genuine Holocaust sentiments and manipulated Holocaust arguments. In Israel today one can find them all, which is one the reasons why understanding the Israelis is such a difficult task.

Tom Segev is a renowned Israeli journalist and historian. He is the author of numerous books on Israel and the holocaust, including The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (1993), One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (recipient of New York Times Editor’s Choice Best Book, and National Jewish Book Award), and recently Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends (2010).

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