Yad Chaim Weizmann and the Westernness of Israel*

Zionist historical narratives and commemorative practices have focused to a great extent on articulating and endorsing the Jewish nation’s individuality, its unique bond with the Land of Israel and need for existential and territo- rial separation from the wider world.1 Certainly, the complex connections between Zionism and the Middle East and the West have been important aspects of Zionist culture since the inception of the movement.2 For the most part, however, these wider spheres of belonging have not featured in mainstream Zionist celebrations of the past, and appear to have been secondary to the chief concern of historicizing the Jews as a nation and their claim to the land.

An important exception to this picture, however, is to be found in the early years of the State of Israel, when the relationship between Zionism and the West became a key focus of Zionist public history. In the 1950s the Government

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