John Lennon and the Jews

Ze’ev Maghen, John Lennon and the Jews: A Philosophical Rampage

Recommended by Melanie Phillips

In this unusual book, Maghen first identifies, through the eyes of Jewish members of Hara Krishna to whom he got chatting at an airport, three key reasons why young people say they can’t identify with Judaism, and then addresses them.  The curious reference in the title is to Lennon’s famous ballad ‘Imagine there’s no heaven’ (my version of the book also features a cover-photo of Lennon wearing a suspiciously-Chassidic-looking outfit).  A central objective of Maghen’s work is to roundly refute Lennon’s anti-religious, anarchic ideas with rationalist philosophy.  While I imagine that Maghen usually writes in a more serious style (he is a professor of Arabic Literature at Bar Ilan University) – I found his ‘in-your-face’ jocularity quite irritating – he succeeds to a remarkable degree in offering thought-provoking and rational answers in what is indeed an impressive and engaging ‘philosophical rampage’.  A great success – at once gripping, thought-provoking and humorous, providing intelligent answers to some tough questions.