The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, 2003 - History - 466 pages
4 Reviews

Israel. It looks like one country on CNN, a very different one on al-Jazeera. The BBC has its version, The New York Times theirs.


But how does Israel look...to Israelis?


Who are these people who order Big Macs in the language of the Ten Commandments? Are they the sabras -- native-born Israelis -- who believe that only sissies wait in line and obey No Parking signs? Are they the dreadlock-wearing Ethiopian immigrants who sing reggae in Hebrew? The inventors who've devised the world's most popular computer chips and the latest cancer treatments? The Christians in Nazareth who publish an Arabic-style Cosmo? They live with exploding buses, but their youth are also the world's biggest MTV fans, a generation whose heroes are not generals but former soldiers who have built the world's second Silicon Valley.

In The Israelis, you'll meet the third wife of a fifty-six-year-old Bedouin who watches Oprah; ultra-Orthodox Jews on "Modesty Patrols" making certain that religious women bus passengers are "properly" attired and seated apart from men (in the world's only country that drafts women for the military). You'll see what it's like taking children to the mall -- first to shop at Toys 'R' Us and then to pick up gas masks. And meet the bride whose Ethiopian-born parents dislike the guy she married, not because he's white -- but because he's not Jewish enough.

The Israelis tells the stories of the clandestine human airlift that brought more than fourteen thousand Ethiopians out of Africa in thirty-six hours and of the avalanche of former Soviets who are delivering an enormous brain gain but a demographic dilemma as well, since many aren't Jewish and their communities feature churches and Christmas trees.

Israel is the Middle East's only country with a growing Christian population, and Arab Christians are the most educated and affluent Israelis. What's the most popular name for an Israeli boy? Muhammad. In The Israelis, young Israeli Muslims -- who speak better Hebrew and know more about Judaism than most Jews of the Diaspora -- reveal their frustrations and hopes. You'll also meet the "Arab Jews"; half of all Israelis are from Jewish families that left Islamic countries.

From battlefields to bedrooms to boardrooms, discover the colliding worlds in which this astounding mix of 6.7 million devoutly traditional and radically modern live -- a country smaller than New Jersey that captures the lion's share of the world's headlines. Interweaving hundreds of personal stories with historical facts and intriguing new research, The Israelis is lively, irreverent, intimate, and always fascinating. It is one of the most original books about Israel in decades.

Israel. It looks like one country on CNN, a very different one on al-Jazeera. The BBC has its version, The New York Times theirs.


But how does Israel look...to Israelis?


Who are these people who order Big Macs in the language of the Ten Commandments? Are they the sabras -- native-born Israelis -- who believe that only sissies wait in line and obey No Parking signs? Are they the dreadlock-wearing Ethiopian immigrants who sing reggae in Hebrew? The inventors who've devised the world's most popular computer chips and the latest cancer treatments? The Christians in Nazareth who publish an Arabic-style Cosmo? They live with exploding buses, but their youth are also the world's biggest MTV fans, a generation whose heroes are not generals but former soldiers who have built the world's second Silicon Valley.

In The Israelis, you'll meet the third wife of a fifty-six-year-old Bedouin who watches Oprah; ultra-Orthodox Jews on "Modesty Patrols" making certain that religious women bus passengers are "properly" attired and seated apart from men (in the world's only country that drafts women for the military). You'll see what it's like taking children to the mall -- first to shop at Toys 'R' Us and then to pick up gas masks. And meet the bride whose Ethiopian-born parents dislike the guy she married, not because he's white -- but because he's not Jewish enough.

The Israelis tells the stories of the clandestine human airlift that brought more than fourteen thousand Ethiopians out of Africa in thirty-six hours and of the avalanche of former Soviets who are delivering an enormous brain gain but a demographic dilemma as well, since many aren't Jewish and their communities feature churches and Christmas trees.

Israel is the Middle East's only country with a growing Christian population, and Arab Christians are the most educated and affluent Israelis. What's the most popular name for an Israeli boy? Muhammad. In The Israelis, young Israeli Muslims -- who speak better Hebrew and know more about Judaism than most Jews of the Diaspora -- reveal their frustrations and hopes. You'll also meet the "Arab Jews"; half of all Israelis are from Jewish families that left Islamic countries.

From battlefields to bedrooms to boardrooms, discover the colliding worlds in which this astounding mix of 6.7 million devoutly traditional and radically modern live -- a country smaller than New Jersey that captures the lion's share of the world's headlines. Interweaving hundreds of personal stories with historical facts and intriguing new research, The Israelis is lively, irreverent, intimate, and always fascinating. It is one of the most original books about Israel in decades.

 

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THE ISRAELIS: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An amiable portrait of the 6.7 million people—a population about the size of Baghdad's—who live in a country smaller than New Jersey but that "captures the lion's share of the world's headlines ... Read full review

User Review  - dorothy - Christianbook.com

I teach a course on the middle east at the University. After reading this book, I realized that very few of us so called "experts" actually know abiut the State of Israel in depth. Many of my ... Read full review

Contents

Israels WASPS
97
The Other Israelis
113
The New Exodus
130
Ethiopian Israelis in the Promised Land
148
JewishJewishJewish
173
This Land Is Your Land? This Land
195
War of the Cheeseburgers
221
Abrahams Other Children
247
Tribes Tents and Satellite Dishes
278
Between Modernity and Tradition
292
Uneasy in the Land of Jesus
305
Marriage Polygamy Adultery and Divorce Israelistyle
327
Oy Gay?
357
Hookers and Hash in the Holy Land
370
ShalomSalam
385
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Donna Rosenthal has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, Newsweek, The Atlantic, and other publications. She was a news producer at Israel Television, a reporter for Israel Radio and the Jerusalem Post, and a lecturer at the Hebrew University. A winner of two Lowell Thomas Awards (for Best Investigative Reporting and Best Adventure Travel Writing), she has reported from many countries of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. She can be reached at www.TheIsraelis.net.

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