Some semi-public, exclusive male settings, most noticeably in the military, encourage the production of intimacy and desire. Yet, whereas in most instances this desire is displaced through humor and aggressive gestures, it becomes acknowledged and outright declared once associated with sites of heroic death. In his provocative study of interrelations between friendship in everyday life and national sentiments in Israel, the author follows selected stories of friendship ranging over early childhood, school, the workplace, and some unique war experiences. He explores the symbolism of friendship in rituals for the fallen soldiers, the commemoration of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the national infatuation with recovering bodies of missing soldiers. He concludes that the Israeli case offers an extreme instance of a much broader cultural phenomenon: declaring the friendship for the dead epitomizes the political "blood pact" between men, taking precedence over the traditional blood ties of kinship and heterosexual unions. The book underscores nationalism as a homosocial-based emotion of commemorative desire.
Danny Kaplan teaches at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He specializes in the anthropology of friendship, military masculinity, sexuality, and the sociology of emotions. He is the author of Brothers and others in arms: The Making of Love and War in Israeli Combat Units (Haworth Press 2003).