Deliberating the Holocaust and the Nakba: disruptive empathy and binationalism in Israel/Palestine

Bashir Bashir, Amos Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article develops a theoretical framework for shared and inclusive Jewish and Palestinian deliberation on the memories of the Holocaust and the Nakba. It argues that a joint Arab-Jewish public deliberation on the traumatic memories of these two events is not only possible, however challenging and disruptive it may be, but also fundamental for producing an egalitarian and inclusive ethics of binationalism in Israel/Palestine. In order to develop this conceptual framework, we first present some examples, most notably Elias Khoury's epic novel Gate of the sun (Bab al-Shams), which bring the memories of the Holocaust and the Nakba together in a fashion that disrupts the dominant, antagonistic and exclusionary Israeli and Palestinian national narratives. We then interpret Dominick LaCapra's notion of ‘empathic unsettlement’, which transforms ‘otherness’ from a problem to be disposed of into a moral and emotional challenge, as a political concept that best captures and explains the disruptive potential of a joint deliberation on these traumatic events. The figure of the refugee, constitutive of Palestinian and Jewish histories and identities, we suggest, serves as a herald of this binational and disruptive ethics. We conclude that ‘empathic unsettlement’ also has a productive and transformative potential which gives further (however partial and initial) meaning, shape and content to the ethics and democratic politics of binationalism heralded by the refugee.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-99
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Genocide Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2014

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© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


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