A History of Modern Israel

Israel typically marks its independence day by calculating the price its citizens pay for Jewish sovereignty. Israelis not only remember the soldiers killed in wars and the people whose lives were cut short by acts of terror, they also count them. But the numbers that produce this holiday’s decorum also implicitly include the six million victims of Nazi slaughter whose systematic murder, commemorated the week before, gives Independence Day its explanatory power as sanctifying life over death and as a fresh start for Jews. Israelis might continue to mourn their casualties, but they are no longer expected to have to bear witness to victims. Instead Israel’s citizens are intended to see and experience the commemorations as a single narrative: the redemptive vision of the one as the answer to the other.

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