War-related loss and suffering in Israeli society: An historical perspective Academic Article uri icon


  • T SITUATION OF PROTRACTED MILITARY conflict and ensuing existential threat, in which Israel has been involved since its inception, has informed its ethos, social institutions, and public discourse in a myriad ways.' The routinization of military and "security" considerations as self-evident, integral aspects of social reality is predicated on a special state of mind, designated "civilian militarism" or "cognitive militarism."' This pattern of militarism may be viewed as a significant cultural meaning system incorporated by many Israelis as a master-schema for articulating a wide range of experiences as security-relevant. In this essay, we are concerned with the articulation of a painful set of experiences associated with the dire consequences of Israel's wearisome cycle of wars and bloodshed. We are specifically interested in the ways warrelated suffering has been constructed, represented, and coped with in Israel over the years. We look diachronically at the management of loss and distress in three areas: the commemoration and representation of fallen soldiers; the emotional expressions of bereavementpatterns of mourning and grief over the dead; and, the manifestation and handling of combatbased psychic trauma. Looking at the emerging patterns in these three domains as socially constructed and historically situated, our aim is twofold. First, we purport to follow and document the variations in these patterns, from shifting forms of memorialization on the collective level to changes in expressive mood on the individual level. Second, we seek to unravel the value orientations informing these patterns and the dynamics underlying their alteration. Our argument is that the converging trajectories of change in these domains bespeak of a significant turn in Israeli

publication date

  • January 1, 2000