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Elvis in Jerusalem: Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel

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“Sharp, clear-eyed interpretations of Zionism’s winding past and volatile present and the shifting pieces of Israeli society.” —The New York Times Book Review Tom Segev, Israel’s best-known journalist-historian, here confronts cherished assumptions about the country today, in the process tipping a number of sacred cows. Drawing on personal experience as well as all kinds of “Sharp, clear-eyed interpretations of Zionism’s winding past and volatile present and the shifting pieces of Israeli society.” —The New York Times Book Review Tom Segev, Israel’s best-known journalist-historian, here confronts cherished assumptions about the country today, in the process tipping a number of sacred cows. Drawing on personal experience as well as all kinds of artifacts from Israeli popular culture—shopping malls, fast food, public art, television, religious kitsch—he puts forward his controversial view that the sweeping Americanization of the country, rued by most, has had an extraordinarily beneficial influence, bringing not only McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts but the virtues of pragmatism, tolerance, and individualism. Jumping into the fierce ideological battle over the future of Zionism, Segev welcomes the diffusion of ideology that has taken place in the last decade as the harbinger of a new spirit of compromise and openness. At a time of crisis, as Israelis and Palestinians retreat to their most embattled positions, Segev’s sharp, colorful, and provocative book is sparking heated debate.


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“Sharp, clear-eyed interpretations of Zionism’s winding past and volatile present and the shifting pieces of Israeli society.” —The New York Times Book Review Tom Segev, Israel’s best-known journalist-historian, here confronts cherished assumptions about the country today, in the process tipping a number of sacred cows. Drawing on personal experience as well as all kinds of “Sharp, clear-eyed interpretations of Zionism’s winding past and volatile present and the shifting pieces of Israeli society.” —The New York Times Book Review Tom Segev, Israel’s best-known journalist-historian, here confronts cherished assumptions about the country today, in the process tipping a number of sacred cows. Drawing on personal experience as well as all kinds of artifacts from Israeli popular culture—shopping malls, fast food, public art, television, religious kitsch—he puts forward his controversial view that the sweeping Americanization of the country, rued by most, has had an extraordinarily beneficial influence, bringing not only McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts but the virtues of pragmatism, tolerance, and individualism. Jumping into the fierce ideological battle over the future of Zionism, Segev welcomes the diffusion of ideology that has taken place in the last decade as the harbinger of a new spirit of compromise and openness. At a time of crisis, as Israelis and Palestinians retreat to their most embattled positions, Segev’s sharp, colorful, and provocative book is sparking heated debate.

30 review for Elvis in Jerusalem: Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Akin

    Interesting and lively essay, and still very pertinent; but doesn't quite manage to shape the internal coherence proposed by the subtitle of the book (post-Zionism and the Americanisation of Israel). It might be that Zionism was the triumph of the collective and post-Zionism – Americanisation – that of the individual; but then the problem is that the book does not acknowledge that the rest of the world has moved along a similar trajectory, without reference to Israel's struggle to shape a cohesi Interesting and lively essay, and still very pertinent; but doesn't quite manage to shape the internal coherence proposed by the subtitle of the book (post-Zionism and the Americanisation of Israel). It might be that Zionism was the triumph of the collective and post-Zionism – Americanisation – that of the individual; but then the problem is that the book does not acknowledge that the rest of the world has moved along a similar trajectory, without reference to Israel's struggle to shape a cohesive identity. Much to chew over though, and many lines that offer tantalising potential for future investigation. And, it does help that Segev writes very well indeed. But it is at best, the beginning of a terribly complex matter, rather than an end in itself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Ratzman

    Segev writes accessible Israeli history, warts and all. This short book gives us a survey of the promises of early Zionism and an artful account of the contemporary State. The Zionist dreams of a European-style socialist society, multicultural Middle Eastern Switzerland, or Redemptive spiritual homeland have given way to more interesting narratives. Segev draws a sketch of many Israels: a secular Israel that looks to America—rather than Europe—to help discern its desired identity in terms of civ Segev writes accessible Israeli history, warts and all. This short book gives us a survey of the promises of early Zionism and an artful account of the contemporary State. The Zionist dreams of a European-style socialist society, multicultural Middle Eastern Switzerland, or Redemptive spiritual homeland have given way to more interesting narratives. Segev draws a sketch of many Israels: a secular Israel that looks to America—rather than Europe—to help discern its desired identity in terms of civil liberties, multiculturalism and modern life; an Israel divided by ethnic sectors, negotiating the boundaries of new immigrants from Arab countries, Former Soviet Union and Africa; a religious Israel that has seen a revival in numbers and power, dreaming of a Rabbinic theocracy; the remnants of the old Zionists, jostling for position in a country that has grown away from its utopian founders. I assign it in my “Jewtopias” class and recommend it to all invested in understanding the real Israel.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kearstin

    I read it while travelling around Israel. It was a quick pithy summary with some modern reflections. Not a lot of meat, but I just needed the bones.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sami

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mimoun

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angela Meltser

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christine G

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Managan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jonah

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ed

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Z

  17. 5 out of 5

    Drewfisk

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chaim Feder

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Eastwood

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  23. 4 out of 5

    Arwen Ungar

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gonzalo Curbelo-Cantera

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  27. 5 out of 5

    Minnie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nilly Alshech

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Rose

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