Accepted Paper:

Bringing back the Nakba and the Palestinian refugees in the streets of Tel Aviv: circumventing borders and challenging the Israeli society through performances  

Author:

Eléonore Merza (LAIOS (EHESS- CNRS) / CRFJ (CNRS-MAEE))

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines four performances let by Zochrot NGO that bring into the public sphere the erased memory of the Nakba and alter the traditional divisions of a citizenship based on a powerful dichotomy between "them" (the Absent/ Palestinians/ Minority) and "us" (those Present/ Jews/ Majority).

Paper long abstract:

In a State that defines itself as democratic and Jewish, a powerful dichotomy between Oneself (Israeli Jews) and the Other (Arabs-Palestinians) exists. One of its meanings is the physical absence of part of the indigenous population in Israel proper. The NGO Zochrot was founded in 2001 to promote awareness among Jewish Israelis to the Nakba and the question of the return of the Palestinian refugees from 1948. These issues are usually perceived by Israeli Jews as a strictly antagonistic to the common rhetoric that supposed that their return means our end and Zochrot's work is the subject of much scathing criticism. Four performances organized between 2010 and 2012 in Tel Aviv will be examined. All these performances bring back a symbolic presence of the absent Palestinian within the Israeli sphere and society.

This paper intends to show in which ways these performances are challenging the traditional dichotomies in Israel between Absents and Presents, between They and Us, between the Other and Oneself, by bringing to the public sphere suppressed human images and ideas. They have the potential to gear an educational process that would foster democratic views and practices among Israelis by embedding the global citizenship in the contemporary Israeli society.

Panel P26
Mediation and circulation of cultural memory in identity settings