Between Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl: Changing Inscriptions of Sacrifice on Jerusalem's "Mountain of Memory"
- Anthropological Quarterly
- George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research
- Volume 80, Number 4, Fall 2007
- pp. 1147-1174
- Additional Information
Focusing on recent changes at a central Israeli site marking the Holocaust and the fallen, I demonstrate that memorial sites are palimpsests, with careers that reflect changing understandings of death and national sacrifice. In the early years of statehood, the site and the rituals performed there depicted Holocaust victims as morally inferior to Israeli independence fighters; recent monuments, paths and rituals, constructed during or after the second Intifada, grant Israeli soldiers legitimacy insofar as they are linked with innocent victims of the Shoah. Suggesting a comparison with post-9/11 Washington, DC, I show that commemorative paths carry two-way traffic between past and present. While memorial sites and rites may displace immanent fear of death to a heroic past, the distant past may also be recharged with the anxieties of the lived present, thus imbuing current others with the cosmological evil attached to the past enemy.