ELVIS IN JERUSALEM: Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel

Tom Segev, Author, Haim Watzman, Translator . Holt/Metropolitan $23 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7020-0

Segev's last book, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, was a New York Times best book of 2000 and enjoyed bestseller status after September 11. Now Segev presents a startling and necessary view of contemporary Israel: it is a place so Americanized that the old Zionist collective identity has been replaced by individualism and consumerism; it is a place of ethnic and religious turmoil where traditional Israeli identity has become painfully fractured. It is a place where revisionist New Historians (of whom Segev is one), using documents that became available only in the early 1980s, have shattered cherished Zionist myths, and archeologists, not finding evidence to confirm biblical tales, have shattered others. As a result, Israelis are filled with anger and confusion. For all these reasons, Segev contends, Israel is on the brink of a post-Zionist era. Post-Zionism is a fighting word in Israel, but Segev makes a powerful case for it in reasoned and measured tones. He nonjudgmentally presents long excerpts from voices on both sides of Israel's culture wars, wars as fierce as any the U.S. has experienced—voices that are impassioned and anguished as they discuss whether to include the work of a Palestinian poet in the Israeli curriculum or admitting that they must let go of occupied territory despite strong emotional ties to it. Zionism has been a success, Segev argues, and its time has past. But, he admits sadly, "Palestinian terrorism seems to push Israelis back into the Zionist womb." Indeed, this may not be the best time for Segev to receive a fair hearing, but this slender book will be indispensable to anyone trying to understand current events in Israel and the Middle East. (Apr. 23)

Reviewed on: 04/22/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-0-8050-7288-4
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4299-2938-7
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