Benski, Tova, and Ruth Katz. “Women’s Peace Activism and the Holocaust: Reversing the Hegemonic Holocaust Discourse in Israel.” In The Holocaust as Active Memory: The Past in the Present (ed. Marie Louise Seeberg, Irene Levine, and Claudia Lenz; Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2013, reprinted 2016): 93-112.
The present chapter focuses on Holocaust discourse among activists of the Coalition of Women for Peace, and is an unexpected outcome of a longitudinal study of women’s peace movements in Israel since the late 1980s. The chapter is divided into four parts: First, we present theoretical perspectives of collective memory and trauma. We then turn to the construction of cultural memory of the Holocaust in Israel. The third section examines the socio-political space of the Coalition of Women for Peace, offering a rich description of its constituent groups, their value orientations, and activities. The fourth part, which forms the core of the chapter, centers on the CWP and the Holocaust, and presents the somewhat ambivalent analogies made by the women activists between the Holocaust and the current phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while identifying the various themes that dominate the specific Holocaust discourse that has evolved among these women.
Societies involved in intractable conflicts develop cultures of conflict because of experiences that have lasting effects on every aspect of collective life. One product of these cultures is conflict-supporting narratives that provide illumination, justification, and explanation of the conflict reality. These narratives are selective, biased, and distortive, but play an important role in satisfying the basic sociopsychological needs of the society members involved. In these societies, journalists often serve as agents in the formulation and dissemination of these conflict-supporting narratives. The present study analyzes the presentations of narratives of the culture of conflict among Jewish Israeli journalists during Israeli wars in Lebanon. It elucidates the dominant themes of the narratives by content analysis of the news published in newspapers and broadcast on television. In addition, in order to reveal the practices used by journalists in obtaining, selecting, and publishing the news, in-depth interviews with journalists and politicians have been conducted.
This paper discusses the psychological sequelae of the recent Israeli war on Gaza, codenamed Operation Protective Edge, and its detrimental impact on the mental health of its Palestinian population. The author contends that deliberate measures by the Israeli military to induce feelings of helplessness, uncontrollability, horror, persistent life-threatening fear, and sleep deprivation against an entire besieged population for 50-days, constitutes mass torture. This policy of engineering mass trauma and torture through war to achieve political subjugation is framed as a paradigm shift in the Israeli colonial occupation of Palestine. Ramifications of this policy are discussed with regard to its potentially caustic effects on Palestinian resilience, and the serious mental health risks it poses, including complex traumatic reactions, identity distortions, severe psychopathology, and multigenerational transmission of trauma. Recommendations emphasize the need to fortify Palestinian resilience to protect individuals and communities from political violence and further mass trauma.