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Commemorating a suspended death: Missing soldiers and national solidarity in Israel



Israel's intense preoccupation with its missing soldiers provides an interesting case for examining national solidarity and commemoration. Efforts to retrieve the soldiers constitute both a site of conflictual politics and a source of wide-ranging civic engagement that takes the form of a depoliticized stance of solidarity. Framing this solidarity as an extension of friendship, I explore it along two dimensions: the relationship between the living and the dead and national conceptions of time. Missing soldiers arouse identification in much the way that fallen soldiers do, as emblems of sacrifice associated with “mythic” time. Yet their suffering is also juxtaposed to the everyday life of the community through “simultaneous” time. Merging both temporal conceptions, they become the most intimately felt of all national heroes, epitomizing the ideological transformation of absent others into beloved brothers. [missing soldiers, commemoration, Israel, solidarity, nationalism, time, living dead]

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