Yair, Gad. “The Germans: Cultural Trauma and the Israeli Habitus.” American Journal of Cultural Sociology 3.2 (2015): 254-79.
This article reports results from a qualitative study of Israelis living in Germany, focusing on their traumatized national habitus. The study is based on 80 in-depth interviews and on replies of more than 100 respondents to an online questionnaire. The present article focuses on one specific aspect of the Israeli traumatized habitus: ‘the wounded eye and the scratched ear’. Specifically, it explores the ways by which the trauma of the Holocaust is inscribed in Israeli senses. It details how respondents’ eyes, ears and thoughts are activated by German mundane episodes, linking day-to-day experiences to the trauma of the Holocaust. Trains, suspect on-boarding Israelis, might end up in Auschwitz; snow brings up associations of the death marches; old people are perceived as Gestapo officers; and contemporary child-rearing practices ‘explain’ to Israelis the obedience and collaboration of ordinary Germans with the Third Reich. Using thick description from the interviews I expose the suspicious Israeli habitus – which always looks for ‘signs’ that might explain what happened in Germany 80 years ago.