Over Their Dead Bodies is the first book written in Hebrew which addresses the social and cultural aspects of the discourse and practice in the Israeli National Institute of Forensic Medicine, in Abu Kabir.

The Israeli public was exposed to forensic medicine primarily through foreign television series, wherein over the course of 45 minutes, the forensic experts definitively establish the cause of death or identity of the unidentified corpses.

The Israeli public also learned of the Institute via the Israeli press which has related to the Institute on the one hand as all-powerful during periods of terrorist attacks, and on the other as the great organ thief.

In all these respects, the Institute has been considered a separate entity from the society within which is it located. In contrast, Meira Weiss’s book discusses the workings of the Institute as a result of its being a part of the  Israeli society. Each chapter addresses a different social issue and the Institute’s role in relation to the issue in question.

Terrorist attacks, treatment and identification of soldier’s remains, identification of the “Yemenite Children”, harvesting corpses without consent, the murder of Jewish and non-Jewish women, foreign workers, determining the cause of death of the Palestinian child Hilmi Shusha, the autopsy of Palestinian “terrorists”, the discourse surrounding Yitzhak Rabin’s autopsy – all these topics and more are addressed in the current book, as they related to social and cultural processes which enable the discourse and the practice of the Institute.


The novel, "Semblance of Absence," concentrates on an un-spoken event that occurred during the October War (the Yom Kippur War) of 1973. 

he novel is based on a true story and includes sections from field notes written by the author while pursuing her first research (M.A. thesis) in Anthropology.

 Meira Weiss presents the reader with the loss and pain of Yetti and Carol Berkowitz, who lost their son, Yoji, at the end of the October War. While investigating the circumstances of his son's death, Carol, the novel’s hero, discovers a secret, relating to the management of the war and his son’s death.

This discovery leads to destructive revelations regarding the characters involved in Yoji’s death. The voice of Carol, the protagonist, is joined by many others, including soldiers who were abandoned in the desert, members of the "defense forces," as well as the author's voice.

 The novel poses human and ethical dilemmas and keeps the reader flipping through the pages with bated breath. October 2013 marked 40 years since that terrible war. The timing of the novel’s release, so close to the 40th anniversary, reflects the author’s belief that the October War of 1973 is not over. It seeps deep into our pores and emerges from within in our day-to-day lives.


Conditional Love: Parents' Attitudes toward Handicapped Children. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994

Questioning the myth of unconditional love between parents and children, this study examines the strength of the parental bond when children are born with physical defects. The author, Prof. Meira Weiss is a social scientist who studied parents' behavior toward 1,450 children born with defects in three hospitals in Israel, and then conducted follow-up studies over a period of six years with 200 families in their homes. 

One of the major recurring patterns of parental behavior was a massive tendency toward rejection of deformed children. Rejection was manifested by parents' wishes for drastic separation from their children through abandonment, institutionalization, or giving up for adoption. If brought home, the children were isolated and hidden from view. The main reason behind this rejection was in fact the children's various physical deformities. Prof. Weiss found that half of the newborns with physically observable defects were abandoned by their parents in the hospital. Even when the parents were assured by doctors that their children would develop intellectually or would not require special care, 

The author describes how the deformity causes confusion in the parents' cognitive system, labeling the child with a name such as monster or devil or creature, or another non-human category. Parents' reactions to their children's body image are discussed and the concept of body boundaries is analyzed.. This study refutes most assumptions in the literature and shows that forming bonds with one's biological child is not necessarily spontaneous, automatic, or natural, and that every child undergoes a process of adoption or rejection based on external appearance and whether or not that appearance matches the parents' image of a person. 


The Chosen Body – The Politics of the Body in Israeli Society. Stanford University Press, 2002

This book examines how the social and cultural paradigms of contemporary Israel are articulated through the body. To construct a panoramic view of how the Israeli body is chosen, regulated, cared for, and ultimately made perfect, the author draws upon some twenty years of ethnographic research in Israel in a range of subjects. These include premarital and prenatal screening, the regulation of the body and its imagery among appearance-impaired children and their families, the screening and sanctifying of the body as part of the bereavement and commemoration of fallen soldiers, and the discourse of the chosen body as it surfaces during terrorist attacks, military socialization, war, and the peace process. 

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