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Accepted Paper:

The politics of geometry  

Authors:

Noa Vana (Tel Aviv University)
Yana Feldman (Ashkelon academic college)
Haim Hazan (Tel Aviv University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on an ethnographic research of Israeli military cemeteries we contend that the practices that shape the space of these cemeteries exclude several groups of fallen soldiers, depict identity-making processes and manifest a challenge to the Israeli ethos of equality among its fallen soldiers.

Paper long abstract:

The Israeli ethos of military cemeteries reiterates the mythical equality of the fallen soldiers - Herein lies the corporal next to the general. The literature, both academic and prose, is brimmed with examples underlying and glorifying this mythos, and Mt. Herzl, Israel's national cemetery, is portraited as its prime illustration.Based on an ethnographic research of diverse Israeli military cemeteries we contend that the state's religious regime enacted by the military employs the military cemeteries' space to exclude several groups of fallen soldiers while masquerading this exclusion in plain sight. For example, soldiers who are not Jewish, according to the Rabbinic Halacha (most of whom from the Former Soviet Union), are buried in a segregated section. Their graves are divided from the other plots using landscape architecture, e.g., benches, trees, etc. The graves of soldiers who committed suicide are also separated from the other plots. However, those are segregated by utilizing a small additional space between the plots. The naked eye can barely detect it; however, it does correspond with the Rabbinic Halacha. The families of these fallen soldiers, through their everyday practices, protest against this exclusion and challenge the Israeli ethos of equality in military cemeteries. For instance, they add planters to "their" plots. Something that other families are unable to do due to the limited space between the plots. We conclude that these practices that shape the space of Jewish military cemeteries depict identity-making processes and manifest a challenge to the Israeli ethos of equality among its fallen soldiers.

Panel Mora04c
Life at the cemetery III