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The State of Israel vs. Adolf Eichmann

by Hannah Yablonka
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The 1960 capture in Argentina of Eichmann and his trial two years later, grabbed world headlines, and as Yablonska shows in this thought-provoking work, they were seminal events in Israeli history as well. The trial was a catharsis for an entire country attempting to emerge from the shadows of the Holocaust. (Over 60% of Israelis older than 14 listened to at least part of it on the radio.) On the surface, the decision to execute Eichmann helped Israelis create a sense of nationhood based on strength and pride, rather than on the victimhood and helplessness. But the trial played another, somewhat contradictory role in Israeli society. Focusing on both the trial itself, and on individual and media reactions to it, Yablonska, who teaches Jewish history at Israel's Ben-Gurion University, shows how it helped place Holocaust survivors in the centre of Israeli society. Before the trial, survivors were seen as remnants of weak Diaspora Jewry. But after the execution, survivors felt more comfortable talking about what they had been through, and cultural explorations of their wartime experiences proliferated
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