Israeli existential anxiety: cultural trauma and the constitution of national character

Gad Yair*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The present paper extends recent studies of national character – suggesting that the Israeli case revolves around a set of deep cultural codes which constitute various empirical manifestations. Broadening on this re-emerging paradigm, the study provides a specific case study of a major trait of Israeli national character, namely existential anxiety and fear of annihilation. It does so while advancing the idea that cultural trauma sets a context for Israeli national character. The analysis shows that Israelis constantly reference persistent and endemic existential fears of annihilation. They do so while tying together four levels: the mythological predicament, historical evidence, contemporary threats and future risks.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)346-362
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Israel
  • cultural trauma
  • memory
  • national habitus
  • national identity


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