Ronit Lentin and Elena Moreo

ISBN-10: 0230300626 ISBN-13: 978-0230300620

Employing the term ‘migrant-led activism’ to encompass a range of activities and policy interventions that migrant-led groups in Ireland engage in, this book critically analyzes the interaction between migrant activists and leaders and the state of the Republic of Ireland – a late player in Europe’s immigration regime. The book, by a team of researchers based in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland,sets outan evidence-based critique of state and societal discourses of integration to provide a nuanced migrant-inspired discussion of processes of ‘integration from below’ against the background of an increasingly restrictive immigration regime.

Through lobbying, advocacy, outreach, information, support, as well as campaigns against racism and discriminations, the migrant-led associations discussed in this book not only provide essential services but also participate in policy debates around issues that affect migrants, implement strategies of cultural adaptation and resistance, create opportunities for individual and community advancement, and provide a platform for disadvantaged segments of the population to become visible. The migrant-led associations studied all aim at facilitating migrants’ integration from below’ in Ireland, displaying a community oriented focus.

Book review:

‘This collection addresses an area that has only marginal attention in the burgeoning literature on immigration and integration in Ireland. The essays produce important new insights into the politics of migrant civil society activism and provide a significant starting point for the writing of migrant activism into the narratives of immigration and settlement in Ireland… Overall this collection is an engaging and thought-provoking intervention in debates about the politics and practice of migrant integration in Ireland (and beyond). By focusing on ‘integration from below’ the activities and perspectives of migrants themselves are brought to bear across the chapters in a fresh and urgent way’.

Breda Gray, University of Limerick. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2012


Co-Memory and Melnacholia: Israelis Memorialising the Palestinian NakbaCO-MEMORY AND MELANCHOLIA:
Israelis Memorialising the Palestinian Nakba
Ronit Lentin
ISBN hb 9780719081705

The 1948 war that led to the creation of the State of Israel also resulted in the destruction of Palestinian society when some 80 per cent of the Palestinians who lived in the major part of Palestine upon which Israel was established became refugees. Israelis call the 1948 war their ‘War of Independence’ and the Palestinians their ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe. After many years of Nakba denial, land appropriation, political discrimination against the Palestinians within Israel and the denial of rights to Palestinian refugees, in recent years the Nakba is beginning to penetrate Israeli public discourse.

This book explores the construction of collective memory in Israeli society, where the memory of the trauma of the Holocaust and of Israel’s war dead competes with the memory claims of the dispossessed Palestinians. Taking an auto-ethnographic approach, Ronit Lentin makes a contribution to social memory studies through a critical evaluation of the co-memoration of the Palestinian Nakba by Israeli Jews.

Against a background of the Israeli resistance movement, Lentin’s central argument is that co-memorating the Nakba by Israeli Jews is motivated by an unresolved melancholia about the disappearance of Palestine and the dispossession of the Palestinians, a melancholia that shifts mourning from the lost object to the grieving subject. Lentin theorises Nakba co-memory as a politics of resistance, counterpoising co-memorative practices by internally displaced Israeli Palestinians with Israeli Jewish discourses of the Palestinian right of return, and questions whether return narratives by Israeli Jews, courageous as they may seem, are ultimately about Israeli Jewish self-healing rather than justice for Palestine.


Book review: Holy Land Studies 11.1 (2012): 93–105
© Edinburgh University Press

Commemorating the Nakba in Hebrew
Ronit Lentin, Co-memory and Melancholia: Israelis Memorialising the Palestinian
Nakba (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010). Pp.172. Hardback. ISBN:

After more than sixty years, the Palestinian Catastrophe (the Nakba) and the 1948 Israeli
War of Independence still remain at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These
events represent a challenging problem within Israeli society and the Zionist left as well,
requiring the overcoming of certain taboos before they can be subjected to proper analysis.
Since the beginning of the process which led to the establishment of the Jewish state, the
experience of the Palestinian natives, along with the increasing tragedy of the Palestinian
refugees’ question, has been ignored by the vast majority of Israeli Jews both at the
intellectual and the political level. Despite the rise of alternative perspectives to that of
the Zionist mainstream (particularly those suggested by scholars belonging to the group
termed the ‘New Historians’), the dominant official Israeli viewpoint in relation to 1948
has consistently removed from public debate the dispossession and expulsion of the eighty
per cent of the Palestinian indigenous population. Starting with such a standpoint, Ronit
Lentin’s latest book entitled Co-memory and Melancholia focuses on the way in which
Israeli Jews have begun to tackle their collective memory, through attempting to comemorate
the Palestinian Nakba. In particular, she points out the deep Israeli Jewish
sense of melancholia concerning 1948 and the Nakba denial, questioning whether Israeli
commemorative initiatives deal with the necessity of self-healing rather than the search
for a just political tool with which to address the issue of the Palestinian Right of
Return. Borrowing her words, ‘this is an Israeli Jewish story about Palestine – indelibly
and dialectically woven into the story of Israeli Jewish dissent – co-memoration of victor
and vanquished, ultimately, as this book argues, united in grieving the loss of Palestine’
(p. 18).
As feminist scholar and activist who has decided to leave Israel and to become an
‘émigré Israeli middle class Ashkenazi Jew since 1969’ (p.5), Lentin has mainly published
on sociological and political subjects related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as to
migrations and racism in Europe. In her latest work she has adopted an auto-ethnographic
approach through which she has explored the role of memory, not only in terms of the
collective act of commemoration, but also as the political concept of co-memory she
sees as emerging from the shadow that has manipulated the entire Israeli Jewish narrative.
Throughout the book she refers to the long and gradual pathway she has followed in
opposing Zionist policies, illustrating this with stories from her personal and academic
life, and including several reflections about her father’s involvement in the Haifa Nakba.
In particular, Lentin describes her birthplace as a lieu de mémoire and, at the same time,
a lieu de silence, since its culture had been founded on a strong and lasting attitude of
silence towards the tragedy of the ‘Other’. In order to introduce her own positioning as an
anti-Zionist Israeli1 (with an open criticism towards diverse forms of post-Zionism), she
reflects on the meaning of co-memorating the Palestinian tragedy by Israeli peace activists,
who need to remind themselves (including herself) that ‘in researching Palestine, as in comemorating
the Nakba in Hebrew, the Palestinians often get erased, their voices subsumed
by the voice of the powerful coloniser, and that, regardless of our position and politics, all
Israeli Jews are implicated in and must take responsibility for the colonisation of Palestine’
Going in depth into the Israeli melancholia for the destruction of Palestine, Lentin
focuses her attention on some Israeli commemorative initiatives: entered in the current
Israeli public debate by controversial viewpoints, according to Lentin’s vision the co-memory
of the Nakba has allowed Israeli Jewish commemorators to expiate their sense of
guilt and to reduce their melancholia. After briefly discussing the Israeli ‘New Historians’
literature and their internal differences in challenging the collective memory of the Nakba,
Lentin goes on to provide a critical and detailed analysis of the work of the Israeli
organisation Zochrot (a word that means ‘remembering’), covering its performative as
well as discursive practices that have offered the opportunity ‘to think critically about
the complex and problematic relations between Israeli Jews, Palestine and the Nakba’
(p. 128).
Illustrating the context of her study, Lentin outlines both the methodological and
the political crises that have characterized what she defines as the ‘Israeli resistance
movement’. One of the main problems she highlights is the position of the Israeli leftist
peace groups, who have continued to be part of the colonizing supremacy within an
environment of unequal power-relations. Following the path of a contentious internal
Israeli debate, Lentin examines the performance of the co-memory approach developed
by Zochrot, as illustrated by the leading founders, to the recognition of the Israeli Jews’
moral responsibility towards the Palestinians (pp. 133–141). On the other hand, bearing
in mind the position of the vast majority of Israeli peace activists, she explicitly questions
whether such a co-memoration of the Nakba has the objective of signifying a political act
which can enable the building of a just reconciliation between Israeli Jews and Palestinians
or, on the contrary, whether it aims to soften their own sense of victimisation and in this
way to attempt to heal Israel (pp. 149–150).
Within such a framework, Lentin argues that the construction of the Israeli Jewish
Nakba co-memoration is based on linkages between memory, melancholia and politics,
and has principally provided a means for Israeli Jews to redeem their own Jewish identity.
Consequently, she explores the resulting conceptual problems which have arisen from
claiming Nakba co-memory as a constitutive part of the Israeli Jewish story: firstly, the
exclusion of Palestinians from this kind of co-memorative practice; secondly, the importance
of understanding which ‘we’ Zochrot the activists refer to; and thirdly, the thorny
question of replacing the Palestinian loss with Israeli Jewish melancholia (pp. 158–161).
Lentin’s latest book is more than ever related to the current reality of peace-oriented
political activism inside Israel, where, on the one hand, the recognition of the state of
oppression towards the Palestinians and, on the other hand, the complex heterogeneity
of the Israeli left have drawn a controversial debate that needs to include the most
complex issue, that concerning the Palestinian Right of Return. Lentin’s main argument
1 Not only in her latest book, but all through her writings, Lentin has underlined the
racial and class divisions existing inside the Jewish state. In representing the middle-class
Ashkenazi, she has admitted the limit operating on the majority of the Israeli Jewish peace
activists who have not still recognised the complexity of Israeli society, and in particular the
leading and discriminatory role of the Ashkenazi establishment which also persists within
the peace movement.has contributed to the proposition of an alternative answer to the Israeli Jewish peace
activists’ dilemma that has diverted focus from the Palestinians’ drama to concentrate more
on their own melancholic status. By writing from the margin not only of Israeli society
but also of the viewpoints of Israeli peace activists themselves, Lentin has been aware of
her own limitations and of the difficulties in strongly supporting the Palestinian struggle
for resistance. In this direction, by means of both her individual and collective political
involvement (that goes beyond her latest writing) she has suggested that the general sense
of melancholia, seen as still belonging to the hegemonic coloniser, can be transformed into
an effective politics to give a further feasible chance for a just and egalitarian future for all
citizens living on the land of Palestine.

Giulia Daniele
Doctoral student
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
University of Exeter
Stocker Road, Exeter EX4, England

thinking-palestine2THINKING PALESTINE
Ed. Ronit Lentin

Hardback: £60.00 ISBN: 9781842779064
Paperback: £18.99 ISBN: 9781842779071


This book brings together an inter-disciplinary group of Palestinian, Israeli, American, British and Irish scholars who theorise ‘the question of Palestine’. Critically committed to supporting the Palestinian quest for self determination, they present new theoretical ways of thinking about Palestine. These include the ‘Palestinization’ of ethnic and racial conflicts, the theorization of Palestine as camp, ghetto and prison, the tourist/activist gaze, the role of gendered resistance, the centrality of the memory of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) to the contemporary understanding of the conflict, and the historic roots of the contemporary discourse on Palestine. The book offers a novel examination of how the Palestinian experience of being governed under what Giorgio Agamben names a ’state of exception’ may be theorised as paradigmatic for new forms of global governance. An indispensable read for any serious scholar.
What People Have Said About the Book
‘This book presents us with sharp critical thinking about everything from the applicability of Agamben’s concept of the “state of exception” or Foucault’s theory of modern “biopower” to Israel’s control over Palestinians in prisons, camps, and ghettos, to the specific dynamics of racialization, colonial violence against, and appropriation of Palestinians, even by the well-meaning. Both theorizing and chronicling the varied forms of Israeli power, these provocative essays are grounded in details that can still shock.’ – Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia University

‘This timely volume provides a fresh epistemological framework to think Palestine in the context of the Israeli colonial occupation of its territories as well as of its dispersed populations. It shifts the center of gravity from the temporal dimension of ’state of exception’ to its spatial as well as its racializing features. The book makes an important critical contribution to political theory and deserves to be read by anyone concerned with the question of Palestine.’ – Yehouda Shenhav, Tel-Aviv University

Because its contributors — sociologists, historians, legal experts and cultural critics — work from within an activist perspective, Thinking Palestine escapes the trap of “scholastic reason” (Pierre Bourdieu’s phrase), whereby the content of theory reflects the walled-off condition of the theorist comfortably ensconced in her/his “schola.” The book should be read closely by serious pro-Palestinian activists wishing to sharpen their conceptual tools in the ceaseless battle against Zionist propaganda.

Raymond Deane, Electronic Intifada-

The authors analyze the Israeli-Palestinian state of exception on different realms. Some discuss the racial basis of the state of exception; others exhibit how problematic practices are adopted by the Israeli army or the Israeli security forces; and yet others deal more directly with the representation of Palestine in different discourses: political or academic. This broad scope provides the lay reader with an interesting introduction to the Palestinian perspective, and it provides the well-versed reader with some interesting case studies which broaden the scope of present analyses of the Palestinians (e.g. management of the moment of death in a chapter on ‘Thanatopolitics’)… Overall, it is an important book for students of Palestine, but ipso facto of those interested in Israel too. The two political entities are exceptionally entwined, and the book provides an original conceptual discussion for framing this state of exception.

Gad Yair, Hebrew University Jerusalem, Sociological Research Online,

Reoccupying the Territories of Silence
Ronit Lentin
ISBN 978-1-57181-775-4 Pb ( 2000)
ISBN 978-1-57181-774-7 Hb ( 2000)

The murder of a third of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis is unquestionably the worst catastrophe in the history of contemporary Judaism and a formative event in the history of Zionism and the State of Israel. Understandably, therefore, the Shoah, written about, analyzed, and given various political interpretations, has shaped public discourse in the history of the State of Israel. The key element of Shoah in the Israeli context is victimhood and as such it has become a source of shame, shrouded in silence and subordinated to the dominant discourse which, resulting from the construction of a “new Hebrew” active subjectivity, taught the postwar generation of Israelis to reject diaspora Jewry and its alleged passivity in the face of catastrophe.


Edited by Ronit Lentin
ISBN 978-1-57181-802-7 Hb ( 2004)

Despite Adorno’s famous dictum, the memory of the Shoah features prominently in the cultural legacy of the 20th century and beyond. It has led to a proliferation of works of representation and re-memorialization which have brought in their wake concerns about a ‘holocaust industry’ and banalization. This volume sheds fresh light on some of the issues, such as the question of silence and denial, of the formation of contemporary identities — German, East European, Jewish or Israeli, the consequences of the legacy of the Shoah for survivors and for the ‘second generation,’ and the political, ideological, and professional implications of Shoah historiography. One of the conclusions to be drawn from this volume is that the ‘Auschwitz code,’ invoked in relation to all ‘unspeakable’ catastrophes, has impoverished our vocabulary; it does not help us remember the Shoah and its victims, but rather erases that memory.


Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Narratives of Dislocation
Edited by Nahla Abdo and Ronit Lentin
ISBN 978-1-57181-459-3 Pb ( 2002)
ISBN 978-1-57181-498-2 Hb (2002)

As the crisis in Israel does not show any signs of abating, this remarkable collection, edited by an Israeli and a Palestinian scholar and with contributions by Palestinian and Israeli women, offers a vivid and harrowing picture of the conflict and of its impact on daily life, especially as it affects women’s experiences that differ significantly from those of men.


race-and-stateRACE AND STATE
Edited by Alana Lentin & Ronit Lentin
Cambridge Scholars Press, September 2008 [June 2006]

Speaking about racism in the western political climate of the first decade of the twenty-first century is more difficult than ever before. There is a feeling in post-colonial and post-immigration societies that the blatant overt racism of the past is no longer as pressing. Admitting racism elicits discomfort because common wisdom tells us that racism opposes everything that we believe in as citizens of democratic, “civilised” modern states. Yet state racism appears to be here to stay and, in many ways, is more acceptable than ever before. Immigration detention centres, the deportation of “failed” asylum seekers and “illegal” immigrants, racial profiling and the rolling back of liberties won by the civil rights movement are all examples of how state racism impacts on our daily lives. Race and State contributes to breaking the taboo of discussing the links between “race” and state. The papers collected in this book highlight the interconnections between “race” and state, from historical, theoretical or contemporary sociological perspectives. MORE…

By Anne Byrne and Ronit Lentin
Published by Institute of Public Administration, 2000
ISBN 1902448464, 9781902448466

This is the first Irish academic text on feminist research methodologies. It brings into the public domain the debate about feminist research in Ireland as a tool for social change.


Edited by Ronit Lentin and Robbie McVeigh
Published by Beyond the Pale Publications: Belfast (2002)
ISBN 1900960168 (pb)

In a context where “I’m not racist, but” is still more preface than parody, Ronit Lentin and Robbie McVeigh’s challenging volume provides a significant overview of pressing debates for Irish society, and perhaps more importantly, a critique of the terms on which some of those debates are currently being conducted. As the 1990s progressed, substantially increased yet relatively minor flows of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers to Ireland generated both a raft of depressingly familiar institutional and individual reactions to the economic and cultural consequences of the ‘flood’, and a robust response from civil society, activists and researchers. This book aims to build on what has become a steady stream of recent publications and provide a central text for students and a wider ‘interested’ readership. In this it is largely successful, if marginally less so in negotiating a relationship between the types of writing it brings together. MORE…

Edited by Ronit Lentin
Zed Books: London (1997)
ISBN: 9781856494458 (hb)
ISBN: 1 85649 446 2 (pb)

This collection brings together a wide variety of feminist academics and activists to explore the gendered and gendering effects of violence against women in war and other disasters.
The contributors explore the ways in which women are targeted as ethnic subjects in extreme situations such as major wars, genocides, famines, slavery, the Holocaust, mass rape, and ethnic cleansing.
The female experience of methodical genocidal rape in the former Yugoslavia, women’s coerced participation in the Rwandan massacre, the comfort women system during World War II, the gendering of genocidal strategies during the Holocaust, nuclear testing in the Pacific and the reproduction ‘policy’ in Tibet are all subjected to in-depth analysis.
The result is a book which integrates women’s differing experiences of war and violence into a wider framework – a framework which uncovers the true consequences of identifying women as simultaneously sexual objects, transmitters of culture and symbols of the nation.