The campaign to silence Gilad Atzmon

By Paul Woodward

Speaking at a panel discussion on “Jewish identity politics” in London last October, shortly after the publication of his book, The Wandering Who?, Gilad Atzmon made this observation:

Identity drifts you far away from what you are.

This is the issue. This is one of the most important [issues raised in the book] — I wouldn’t like to call it a revelation because maybe I’m not the one who brought it up — but people who know who they are, they don’t need identity.

Identity is actually a form of identification.

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Jerusalem and Athens

GA: the following is a comprehensive review of The Wandering Who and the  controversy around it. It also includes an extended appendix of commentaries re the book both positive and negative.

Jerusalem and Athens

On Gilad Atzmon's Book "The Wandering Who" and the Reactions

Anis Hamadeh, October 4, 2014

The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity politics and Jewish Power in particular - available on  &

Gilad Atzmon's book "The Wandering Who" about Jewish identity politics has, since its publication three years ago, sparked most different reactions as well as particularly lively debates, as a glance on the controversial author's Wikipedia page shows. Some view him as an inspired fighter for justice, as an undaunted source of ideas and impulses, even a prophet, while others despise him as an "anti-Semite" and demonize him as a soul catcher in the quagmire of extreme right-wing ideas. What's in this prophetic devil's book? What do people say about it? What is to make of it?


What happens on the 202 pages between the two covers resembles an elaborate jazz piece in its composition: Themes are employed and varied, circles closed, biographical details interpolated. At the heart of the study are - in a nutshell - two major theses: that there is a political ideological "Jewish-ness" which by far exceeds the boundaries of Zionism, and that, in this context, there is a deep gap between tribal interest politics and universal standards within the range of Jewish opinions: Jerusalem versus Athens, known from the problem of the Jewish vs. the democratic state. In 22 chapters, organized in four parts and supplemented by diverse fore- and afterwords, the author analyzes the heterogeneous Jewish collective from which he originates, often in a context with the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. The self-critical impulse at the root of his criticism can be understood while reading the epilogue, where Gilad Atzmon recounts an episode from his school days in Israel: On a visit to Yad Vashem the fourteen-year-old asks the teacher why so many Europeans loathed the Jews so much and in so many places at once. The subsequent punishment did not silence the querist; apparently, similar scenes were to follow. Thus the author self-assesses not to look at Jews or Israelis, but in the mirror (p 94). This is essential for understanding his motivation.

Atzmon is a dissident, someone who, during his time in the Israeli army, discovered lies and inconsistencies he started to consequently pursue, as he describes in the introductory part of "The Wandering Who". What did the first Israeli president mean when he spoke about a Jewish "primary quality" (p 16f) that ranks higher than civic commitments of Jews toward a diaspora country? Atzmon analyzes Victor Ostrovsky, a deserter ex-Mossad agent (p 18ff), and his description of "sayanim", diaspora Jewish helpers for the Jewish cause. What enabled Wolfowitz, Greenspan and others to mobilize the USA for Zionist interests? It was in any case no conspiracy, writes Atzmon, for everything was in the open and public (p 30).

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Norton Mezvinsky: Gilad Atzmon and The Wandering Who?

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: The following article is probably the first valid academic and intellectual criticism of The Wandering Who. Rather than the usual repetitive, banal and futile attempts to silence me, it actually offers a deep and comprehensive reading of my thought followed by an educated criticism of my ideological, philosophical and political stand. Professor Norton Mezvinsky is one of the world’s leading authorities on Jewish history and Israeli politics. He is currently the president of the International Council for Middle East Studies ( a new academic think tank in Washington, D.C. His book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, which he wrote with the late Israel Shahak, is regarded as one of the most important critical texts on Israeli politics and culture.

Needless to mention that I am delighted with Professor Mezvinsky’s review  of my work. But I also agree with some of his criticism. I addressed most Mezvinsky criticism in our last month Washington DC public session organized by the Washington Report (

A video of this very interesting session can be watched here or at the bottom of this article.

Delinda C. Hanley, News Editor, for the Washington Report described the unfortunate  events proceeding my public meeting with Professor Mezvinsky. “The night before Prof. Norton Mezvinsky’s March 14th interview with Atzmon at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church a controversy shook up our plans for a thought-provoking event. Ali Abunimah and 21 other respected Palestinian writers and activists issued a statement calling for The Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon. Puzzled, and probably deeply hurt, Atzmon penned a thoughtful response. (The Washington Report sent both statements to thousands of readers on our “Action Alert” list.) Hours after Professor Mezvinsky’s interview concluded, there was a sea change in the blog­osphere—Atzmon received a barrage of encouragement from his supporters and won scores of new visitors to his Web site, <>.”

Delinda C. Hanley concludes, “while he was in the U.S., Atzmon shook up friends and foes alike, and started a conversation which must continue. We learned that in addition to Zionists who are quick to label anyone who disagrees with them anti-Semitic or racist, there are also well-meaning, self-appointed, pro-peace gatekeepers who don’t want to allow others to speak. But to achieve true lasting peace, and uphold the values of a free society, we need to hear every voice. This, after all, has been the Washington Report’s goal for the past 30 years.”

I couldn’t agree more. Freedom of thought and expression are at the heart of the spirit of resistance, dissent and change.         


From the May 2012 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:

Gilad Atzmon and The Wandering Who?


By Norton Mezvinsky

Not content to be merely a successful, world-class jazz musician, Israeli-born Gilad Atzmon has emerged as an extremely controversial critic of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, the Jewish state, Zionism, many forms of anti-Zionism, and what he calls Jewish identity politics. It did not surprise me to learn that Alan Dershowitz and some other Zionist colleagues had severely attacked Atzmon and his ideas. It did surprise me, however, when some Jewish and Palestinian friends of mine, who are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, counseled me not to meet Atzmon, and thereafter scolded me for agreeing to interview him publicly. These friends, together with others of like opinion, advocated disavowal and boycotting of Atzmon and his ideas.

In contrast, another friend, an Orthodox Hassidic rabbi, a major authority on the Halacha (Judaic religious law) and an advocate of Israel’s remaining a Jewish state and not relinquishing any presently held land, urged me to interview Atzmon. My friend and I obviously disagree about Israel and the Palestinians, but we have mutual respect for one another. Regardless of our disagreements, the rabbi spent many hours reading Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? Although he disliked the book and disagreed with Atzmon’s major assertions, he sent me bullet point criticisms and suggested I use them in my interview.

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Jewish Imperial News

By Gilad Atzmon

This last weekend brought with it some vile manifestations of Jewish politics in its most horrific forms.

United Against the Goyim


In the USA, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu should consider ordering a Mossad hit team to assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama so that his successor will defend Israel against Iran.

Actually, it wasn’t just Obama whom Adler suggested to eliminate, the Atlanta Jewish Times listed three lethal options to help Israel counter Iran’s nuclear capability. The first, to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, the second to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the third is to assassinate the current American president.

Devastatingly, Adler’s murderous attitude towards politics is wholly consistent with some Biblical and Talmudic anti-gentile teaching. It recalls clearly certain Old Testament genocidal verses such as Leviticus 26:7-8:

‘You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.’

It is also consistent with the appalling way in which Palestinians are abused by the Jewish State.  But it is also consistent with the Jewish cultural wrath towards the dissenting Jesus and towards dissent in general. May I remind readers that the word Yeshu – Jesus in Hebrew – is the abbreviation of the Hebrew phrase

“may his name and memory be blotted out”.

Without comparing president Obama to Jesus, Adler’s homicidal inclination is somewhat similar. Seemingly, some Jews have yet to forgive Jesus – nor President Obama. .

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