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Historisk tidskrift 125:4 • 2005

Innehåll (Contents) 2005:4

Uppsatser (Articles)

Politiskt bruk av Förintelsen i karikatyrer i israelisk dagspress på minnesdagen för Förintelsen 1959–1993

Mikael Tossavainen

Fulltext (pdf)


Political Use of the Holocaust in Caricatures in Israeli Press on Holocaust Memorial Day 1959–1993

The Holocaust has had, and continues to have, a considerable influence on Israeli society and it casts its shadow over practically every aspect of societal life in the Jewish state. Even though the influence is strong, it is not uniform and it has changed over time. One of the fields in which this can be discerned is in the Israeli political discourse. The Holocaust has from time to time been used as a tool in political arguments by both the Left and the Right, justifying various policies with different, and frequently clashing, lessons drawn from the Nazi genocide of European Jewry.

Even though the use of the Holocaust is multifaceted and shifting, one can see a general development of roughly three stages. These three stages of the political use and shifting interpretations of the Holocaust in the Israeli press are connected to the political developments in the state of Israel and in the Middle East and have nothing to do with the Holocaust per se. The first stage, characterised by statism and a strong propensity to look forward and to stress the difference in the status of the Jewish people after the establishment of the state of Israel, lasted from the inception of the state in 1948 until the Six Day War in 1967. The second stage, lasting from 1967 until 1982, was dominated by a growing sense of threat. During this period, the previous strong distinction between then and there versus here and now, was weakened and warnings of a renewed Holocaust became more common. The last stage, from the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 until the start of the peace process with the Palestinians in 1993, is characterised by deeper divisions and a loss of consensus regarding the interpretation of the Holocaust.

Analysing the caricatures in the Israeli press on Holocaust Memorial Day, one is struck by how clearly they reflect these three stages of the development of the use of the Holocaust in Israeli political discourse.