Holidays of the Revolution

Communist Identity in Israel, 1919-1965

By Amir Locker-Biletzki

Subjects: Political Parties, Political Science, Political Sociology, Jewish Studies, Israel Studies
Paperback : 9781438480862, 226 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438480855, 226 pages, December 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Basic Concepts and Political Ritual

2. The Creation of a Jewish Progressive Tradition

3. Holocaust, Independence, and Remembrance in Israeli Communist Commemoration

4. Workers' Utopia and Reality in Israeli Communism

5. Revolution and the Soviet Union among Israeli Communists

6. Jewish-Arab Fraternity: Language, Perception, Symbol, and Ritual



Shows how Israeli Communists developed a distinctive national identity outside the boundaries of Zionism.


Holidays of the Revolution explores a little-known chapter in the history of Mandatory Palestine and the State of Israel: the Israeli Communist Party and its youth movement, which posed a radical challenge to Zionism. Amir Locker-Biletzki examines the development of this movement from 1919 to 1965, concentrating on how Communists built a distinctive identity through myth and ritual. He addresses three key themes: identity construction through Jewish holidays (Hanukkah and Passover), through civic holidays (Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israeli Independence Day), and through Soviet and working-class myths and ceremonies (May Day and the October Revolution). He also shows how Jewish Communists viewed, interacted, and celebrated with their Palestinian comrades. Using extensive archival and newspaper sources, Locker-Biletzki argues that Jewish-Israeli Communists created a unique, dissident subculture. Simultaneously negating and absorbing the culture of Socialist-Zionism and Israeli Republicanism—as well as Soviet and left-wing–European traditions—Jewish Communists forged an Israeli identity beyond the bounds of Zionism.

Amir Locker-Biletzki is an Affiliated Researcher at the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University in Montreal and a Balsillie School Fellow at the University of Waterloo.


"Locker-Biletzki provides us with a serious and well-crafted history of Jewish, and Arab and Jewish Communists in Israel who had another national vision, who were trying to forge a different project for Jewish national identity in Israel in the years before the state's founding." — +972 Magazine

"This book draws on interesting research, interviews, and publications to tell a hitherto unpublished story of Israeli history." — Colin Shindler, author of A History of Israel, Second Edition