Holocaust as Metaphor: Arab and Israeli Use of the Same Symbol

Ruth Linn, Ilan Gur-Ze'ev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes the use and function of Holocaust symbols in the ongoing circumstances of the Middle East. The straggle between the Palestinian and Israeli communities is presented as emerging within a simple metaphoric framework, and this article suggests that each community uses Holocaust symbols for its own purposes. From the Arab position, Holocaust metaphors are primarily used to define the Jews as Nazis. Concomitant with the Palestinian conflict against the Israeli occupation, however, there is also a straggle against the identity of the Jews combined with an attempt to construct a Palestinian identity. Because the Palestinians inherited the Jewish ideology of justice in regard to victimhood, they aspire to become the "David of the Holocaust with a stone in their hand." They also wish to demonstrate the mutation of the "Jew as victim." Being in exile has created the Palestinian collective consciousness, and they see themselves as the real Jews, victims in exile. This perception manifests itself in all spheres of life, both concrete and symbolic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-206
Number of pages12
JournalMetaphor and Symbolic Activity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


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