Reimagining the Past for the Future in Israel-Palestine
Set in Israel in the first decade of the twenty-first century and based on long-term fieldwork, this rich ethnographic study offers an innovative analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It explores practices of "memory activism" by three groups of Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Palestinian citizens--Zochrot, Autobiography of a City, and Baladna--showing how they appropriated the global model of truth and reconciliation while utilizing local cultural practices such as tours and testimonies.
These activist efforts gave visibility to a silenced Palestinian history in order to come to terms with the conflict's origins and envision a new resolution for the future. This unique focus on memory as a weapon of the weak reveals a surprising shift in awareness of Palestinian suffering among the Jewish majority of Israeli society in a decade of escalating violence and polarization--albeit not without a backlash.
Contested memories saturate this society. The 1948 war is remembered as both Independence Day by Israelis and al-Nakba ("the catastrophe") by Palestinians. The walking tour and survivor testimonies originally deployed by the state for national Zionist education that marginalized Palestinian citizens are now being appropriated by activists for tours of pre-state Palestinian villages and testimonies by refugees.