Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2799630
 


 



When, and Where, Does History Begin? Collective Memory, Selective Amnesia, and the Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Israel


Margit Cohn


Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

June 23, 2016

Forthcoming, 2017, University of Illinois Law Review
Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 16-30

Abstract:     
In this paper I consider the strategic use of constitutional history, as reflected in national collective memories, and analyze, as a case-study, the treatment of the State of Israel of the recent surge of illegal entrants into Israel. The rise of entry of asylum seekers/infiltrators (the ambiguity is central to Israel’s policies on the matter) from Africa into Israel via Egypt, which began around 2006, led the government to design stricter rules of treatment of entrants. The treatment of tens of thousands of entrants from Sudan and Eritrea, who could not be returned to their country under international law, remains the most pressing aspect. To tighten the policy, the government transformed a 1954 statute, which was originally enacted to answer the challenges of Arab infiltrators (Fedayeen) into Israel in the mid-1950s. I discuss a series of four legislative amendments, enacted between 2012 and 2016 in response to three Supreme Court decisions that found the first three amendments unconstitutional, and place this recent history in the context of lawmakers’ reliance on the State’s collective memory of the Holocaust and other mnemonic narratives of oppression. Collective memory, a central socio-cultural aspect of the ways histories are rendered and used to shape national identity, is addressed in this article as a construct that can be implemented strategically to promote policy and law making. A quantitative analysis of oral presentations by members of Israel’s parliament in the process of the legislation of those four amendments, compared with some presentations in the context of the removal of international sanctions against Iran, offers proof of the claim that collective memories are used strategically by policy- and law-makers, and that, more generally, history, as translated by state officials, is highly malleable.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Collective memory, constitutional history, refugees, Israel, Holocaust memory, asylum seekers


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Date posted: June 24, 2016 ; Last revised: September 2, 2016

Suggested Citation

Cohn, Margit, When, and Where, Does History Begin? Collective Memory, Selective Amnesia, and the Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Israel (June 23, 2016). Forthcoming, 2017, University of Illinois Law Review; Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 16-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2799630

Contact Information

Margit Cohn (Contact Author)
Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )
Mount Scopus, 91905
Israel

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