This chapter, based on the Israeli-Jewish 1
experience, aims to explicate how the mother-son relationship in modern Israel is deeply linked to the sociopolitical circumstances in which private life is embedded, and in particular to the ongoing state of war and hostility in the Middle East. Thus it demonstrates how in Israel, as probably elsewhere, the private domain of a mother-son relationship interacts with, and is constructed by, the cultural-political sphere. As changes occur in the political arena, they infiltrate the private domain and produce time variations in mother-son relationships. Thus while in some of the phenomena to be described almost no changes have occurred in the last fifty years of Israel's history, others have undergone important transitions. It can be hypothesized that as progress occurs toward achieving peace in the Middle East, we may observe further changes in mother-son relationships in Israel as well as in the Arab states.
The chapter is divided into three parts: 1) The mother-son relationship in the context of obligatory military service-normal life course development; 2) motherhood of soldiers as a political position; and 3) the voice of mothers as mourners. Each of these sections reflects on the topic from a different perspective. The first part deals mainly with the private domain, the second, with the public or cultural domain, and the third represents an interaction of the private and the collective discourse.