Daniel J. Levine, “These Days of Shoah’: History, Habitus, and Realpolitik in Jewish Palestine, 1942-43.” Journal Article

Daniel J. Levine (University of Alabama)

Political Power and Social Theory Journal  (Published (2017) 32 , pp. 99-125)


This article explores the role of history and historical memory in the formation of early Zionist/Israeli national security doctrine. To that end, it makes three moves. First, it explores a series of public addresses made by Zalman Rubashov (Shazar) in 1942–1943. A key public intellectual in the Jewish community of preindependent Palestine (the Yishuv), Rubashov means to help his listeners make sense of, and respond collectively to, the unfolding destruction of European Jewry. Second, it draws cautious parallels between those public intellectual pronouncements and the postwar work of Friedrich Meinecke, a prominent German historian and public intellectual and a sometime teacher of Rubashov. In both cases, I suggest, history does more than make sense of a moment of political transition: It seeks to re-frame the self-understandings of citizens and their collective political relations. Third, drawing on a recent memoir by Noam Chayut, a prominent Israeli anti-occupation activist, I explore how those self-understandings can be lost when the historical claims upon which they are predicated lose their sense of immediacy, naturalness, or coherence.