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Israel in the American Mind

Book description

This book examines the changing meanings Americans and Israelis invested in the relationship between their countries from the late 1950s to the 1980s. Bringing to light previously unexamined sources, this study is the first to investigate the intricate mechanisms that defined and redefined Israel's place in American imagination through the war-strewn 1960s and 1970s. Departing from traditional diplomatic histories that focus on the political elites alone, Shaul Mitelpunkt places the relationship deep in the cultural, social, intellectual, and ideological landscapes of both societies. Examining Israeli propaganda operations in America, Mitelpunkt also pays close attention to the way Israelis manipulated and responded to American perceptions of their country, and reveals the reservations some expressed towards their country's relationship with the United States. By contextualizing the relationship within the changing domestic concerns in both countries, this book provides a truly transnational history of US-Israeli relations.


'A unique perspective on the formulation of the steady and growing US support for Israel in the late twentieth century that detects previously unnoticed twists and turns in the narrative history, including fissures in the US-Israeli relationship when it seemed sturdy and elements of strength when it seemed shaky.'

Peter Hahn - author of Missions Accomplished?: The United States and Iraq since World War I

'Eschewing more traditional approaches focusing on bilateral diplomacy and geopolitics, Mitelpunkt explores the symbolic roots of the special relationship between the United States and Israel and offers a provocative new explanation for the American love affair with Israel from the age of Eisenhower through the age of Reagan.'

Douglas Little - author of Us versus Them: The United States, Radical Islam, and the Rise of the Green Threat

'This brilliant demonstration of the power of culture in international relations provides essential context for understanding Israel’s exalted status in American politics today. Genuinely transnational, with rich research in US and Israeli sources, the book offers a chastening lesson in the emotional and imaginative ties that can supersede national interests.'

Barbara Keys - author of Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s

'Tracing the back-and-forth debates that unfolded between writers, filmmakers, diplomats, professors, cartoonists, and others - both in English and in Hebrew - Mitelpunkt thoughtfully reveals how thinking, dreaming, and arguing about Israel provided a way for intellectuals and policymakers of both nations to talk about citizenship, military service, and democracy in an age of persistent warfare.'

Brooke L. Blower - author of Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars

'With subtlety and verve, Mitelpunkt carefully reconstructs the complex, ambivalent cultural politics of US-Israeli relations at a critical moment in their development. Deeply grounded in US and Israeli sources, connecting state and non-state actors, and possessing a keen sense of the ironies and costs of US-Israeli ties, Israel in the American Mind is transnational cultural history at its best.'

Paul Kramer - author of The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines

'Deeply researched, impressive in its scope, Israel in the American Mind is enlightening, dismaying, even at times amusing, but altogether a superb exploration of the vital and fraught relationship between Israel and America.'

Andrew Rotter - author of Hiroshima: The World's Bomb

'Bringing to light previously unexamined sources, Israel in the American Mind is an impressively informative study that is the first to investigate the intricate mechanisms that defined and redefined Israel's place in American imagination through the war-strewn 1960s and 1970s. … A solid work of original scholarship … enhanced for academia with the inclusion of listings for figures and abbreviations, and introduction (Did I see only America?), a twenty-six page bibliography, and a sixteen page index.'

Source: Midwest Book Review

'Unlike the earlier works in this field, Israel in the American Mind makes great use of Israeli sources; the book can thus be considered the first truly transnational history of the U.S-Israel relationship in the realm of cultural politics. The merits of such an approach are clear. It allows Mitelpunkt to show that the citizen-solder imagery was on one hand, not an innovation originally created for export but rather emerged in Israeli domestic discourse; on the other hand, Mitelpunkt demonstrates just how active a role Israeli officials played in deploying this cultural narrative to Americans in the hopes of garnering diplomatic, political, and military support.'

Geoffrey P. Levin Source: H-Diplo

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