Holocaust Memorial Day Sirens (Israel & Affect Zionism)


For those who’ve never seen it, here’s a Youtube clip from Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day. The sirens go off and the whole (Jewish part of the) country stops at a stand still. On one hand, and for good and for ill, the practice is ideological, a social construction of cultural memory, which should be recognized, critically, as such. On the other hand, this act of public marking is a profound cultural gesture. A repetition complex of a trauma, the wail of the sirens carries a sustained wave of affect that goes right through each individual body of a collective mass. To an outsider, it might like look like fascism, but the austere simplicity of the gesture is anything but grandiose. As the country figures itself out, the recent controversial marks here by  IDF deputy chief of staff Yair Golan concerning racism in Israel indicates how the act of Holocaust memory can go this way or that –cultivating an aggressive and brainwashing culture of victimhood or a culture of open and sharp self-critique that respects universal human values. I have no doubt that when the day comes, they will do something exactly similar to mark the Nakba in the State of Palestine.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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