Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel

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    This article recovers the Zionist elite’s preeminent, but now largely forgotten, cultural project of the Jewish State’s first decade: the attempt to locate the new post-colonial State as a part of the West, through the memorialisation of its first President. A significant literature has emerged in recent years on Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s desire for Israel to join the West. But this scholarship has focused on Ben-Gurion’s political aims, philosophy, and constitutionalism. It has missed the fact that the cultural re-presentation of the post-colonial State— the act of location— was at the very centre of the Government and its partners’ Westernness enterprise. In addition to debates about the relationship between Israel and the West, the article contributes to the historiography of memory and Zionism. While scholars have produced an extensive corpus of research on how Zionists used history and memory to underscore the Jewish nation’s attachment to the Holy Land, little has been written on the endeavour to memorialise Zionism’s wider belonging to the West. More broadly, the article is also an intervention in the debates about Israel’s place within the space of the post-colonial world.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)27-50
    JournalJewish Historical Studies
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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