Communication of the Israeli leadership with families of fallen soldiers


Shenhav, S. (2009). Communication of the Israeli leadership with families of fallen soldiers. Middle Eastern Studies , (5), 691-707.

Date Published:



The article examines the Israeli leadership's attempts to explain and justify the harsh outcomes of deployment of force on behalf of the state. It analyzes Commemoration Day Letters sent by representatives of the State of Israel to the families of soldiers killed in action from 1952 onwards, focusing on significant changes in the relation between the individual and the collective. The major turning point is expressed in Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's letters from the mid-1980s, in which the sanctity of life appears as an ideal guiding the state's political establishment. Applying Roman Jakobson's model of communication, the article claims that this turning point marks a shift from a collective, story-oriented approach in which the national narrative was offered as consolation for the loss to a communication-oriented approach, in which those undersigning the letters are presented as personal communicators rather than national narrators. Against the background of problems of legitimacy embedded in this approach, the article analyzes how recent letters refrain from taking either an individualistic or a collective standpoint.


Item Citation: Middle Eastern Studies. 45,5 (2009) 691-707Accession Number: edsram.aleph.publish.000484581; Publication Type: Periodical; Source: Middle Eastern Studies; Language: English; Publication Date: 20090101

Last updated on 08/16/2015