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A Tale of Two Narratives
The Holocaust, the Nakba, and the Israeli-Palestinian Battle of Memories


Part of Cambridge Middle East Studies

  • Date Published: March 2023
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108794404

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About the Authors
  • The Holocaust and the Nakba are foundational traumas in Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian societies and form key parts of each respective collective identity. This book offers a parallel analysis of the transmission of these foundational pasts in Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian societies by exploring how the Holocaust and the Nakba have been narrated since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. The work exposes the existence and perpetuation of ethnocentric victimhood narratives that serve as the theoretical foundations for an ensuing minimization – or even denial – of the other's past. Three established realms of societal memory transmission provide the analytical framework for this study: official state education, commemorative acts, and mass mediation. Through this analysis, the work demonstrates the interrelated nature of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the contextualization of the primary historical events, while also highlighting the universal malleability of mnemonic practices.

    • Offers key insights into the transmission - and perpetuation - of conflict narratives in Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian society that sustain the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis
    • Provides an holistic overview of the post-Oslo period in both Israeli and Palestinian society
    • Will be of interest to scholars working on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as readers interested in Middle Eastern studies, conflict studies, memory studies, and politics and international relations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'There is vast literature on the Holocaust memory in Israel and there is vast literature on the memory of the Nakba among Palestinians. But there are hardly any thorough fact-based analyses of both these foundational memories together and the ways by which they shape and reshape each other. Grace Wermenbol's brilliant study does precisely that and proves that in order to understand each of these memories one actually needs to study them both and together.' Amos Goldberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    'A Tale of Two Narratives is the first rigorous comparative and relational study of memorialisation practices of the Holocaust and Nakba in Israel/Palestine. Wermenbol approaches this challenging topic with critical precision, illustrating how both Israelis and Palestinians shape the memory of their own foundational trauma in implicit and explicit conversation with their 'enemy'.' Yair Wallach, SOAS, University of London

    'In no conflict does the war of narratives play a bigger role than in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is closely related to a distinctive feature: each side in this conflict draws upon a discourse of victimhood – that of a past Holocaust whose repetition needs to be permanently averted and that of an ongoing Nakba that requires to be urgently terminated. This book is a brilliant contribution to the topography of that minefield, and hence a major contribution to enabling its future demining.' Gilbert Achcar, author of The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives

    'Based on impressive field work, the book presents a meticulous analysis of the mnemonic practices and constructions of the past, offering a welcome contribution to our further understanding of both the general matter of the uses of the past and critical aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.' Yaacov Yadgar, Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies, University of Oxford

    'This is an outstanding and innovative study of how both Palestinians and Israelis interpret and perceive themselves. The scope of the material and extensive footnoting will make it valuable for students conducting further research … Highly recommended.' B. Harris Jr., Choice Magazine

    'this is an important book, and Wermenbol's meticulous research will be of insight and good use to scholars … It is the merit of Wermenbol to have written an important book on a most difficult topic, thus expanding the scholarship on the memory relations of the Holocaust and the Nakba.' Alon Confino, The Middle East Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2023
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108794404
    • length: 410 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    The post-oslo period: a historical overview
    Part I. The Textbook of Memory:
    1.The holocaust in Israeli textbooks: death and deliverance
    2.Teaching the nakba: old wounds, new textbooks
    Part II. The Landscape of Memory:
    3. Recreating and reclaiming the lost homeland
    4. A past that does not pass
    Part III. Scoop on the Past:
    5. Never forget and never again
    6. Preserving the past, mobilizing the past

  • Author

    Grace Wermenbol, Middle East Institute
    Grace Wermenbol is a Middle East-focused analyst for the US government and a non-resident scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. She holds a Ph.D. from St Antony's College, University of Oxford where her research focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is the recipient of numerous academic grants and awards, including from the University of Oxford, the Council of British Research in the Levant, the University of Cambridge's Woolf Institute, and the Dutch Prins Bernhard Foundation.

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