Gilad Atzmon

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Welcome to Gilad Atzmon's webpage. This site provides information about Gilad's musical and intellectual activity.  

Jerusalem and Athens

On Gilad Atzmon's Book "The Wandering Who"
and the Reactions
Anis Hamadeh, October 4, 2014

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?

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Collin Bell: Sometimes the truth causes discomfort -a book review

A truly wonderful book.

Concise, clear, and easy to read.

Gilad utilises a very readable style when articulating his ideas.

The book joins the dots and exposes, among other things, the many and various strands of zionist thought for what they are. A con and a fraud.

He also seeks to illustrate that many of the more pernicious among them actually pretend, on the surface, to oppose zionism.

A rather hollow pretense ?

Of course the Alan Dershowitz's (and fellow travellers) of this world will howl with indignation accusing Gilad of being anti-semitic, a self-hating Jew etc., etc., but hey, what's new ?

These people have been attempting to close down the Palestine debate for decades with just this sort of ploy, and it's wearing a bit thin.

The nonsense that one can somehow completely separate 'Jewish' and 'zionist' is pure fantasy land.

Have these people not noticed that Israel is (and always has been) defined as 'the Jewish state' ?

It was set up in the name of the Jewish people, and has been nurtured and maintained ever since by the various Jewish communities and their allies, around the world.

'Jewish' and 'zionist' ARE inextricably intertwined.

I agree that they are not quite the same thing, but there is enormous overlap and since the whole project of Israel was created in the name of 'Jewish', the idea that Gilad (or anyone else for that matter) should wish to explore just what is meant by 'Jewish' seems like a both logical, and necessary project to me.

'Project Israel' was set up as a secular state after all, decrying religion, yet the justification for it's existence is purely biblical.

Without the religious connection there would be absolutely no justification for the 'Jewish State's existence.

How's that for a paradox ?

So the question of just what is meant by 'Jewish' and 'the Jewish people' is at the heart of the whole subject.

Gilad is not the first, and I'm sure he won't be the last to attempt to get to the bottom of this conundrum.

Famous predecessors include Karl Marx who wrote extensively on this subject in 1843.

Marx didn't have many positive things to say, and in attempting to get to the bottom of this thorny question of identity, Marx never once used the word 'zionist' because of course the political movement called zionism hadn't yet been invented.

His musings were aimed fairly and squarely at 'The Jewish Question'.

One of his famous conclusions was that 'Jewish Internationalism' was 'the Internationalism of the financier' and that as such, lay at the heart of oppression everywhere.

But I'm wandering.

Gilad is very clearly on a journey toward understanding.

Understanding the central themes that shaped his life growing up in the newly formed Israeli state, and just like the story of 'the King's new clothes', on enquiring he finds that there is curiously little substance to the whole thing.

Jewish identity is, it seems, remarkably elusive.

All rather curious when one considers the impact that the creation of 'the Jewish state' (with it's accompanying creed of 'chosen-ness') has had (and continues to have) on the world stage.

If you like 'thinking outside the box' you will surely find this book interesting.

An absorbing journey, intelligently articulated.

Not a book for the rigid thinker.

Gilad Atzmon's New Book: The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish  Identity Politics  or

Silvia Cattori Interviews Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon talks about his latest book “The Wandering Who?

Gilad Atzmon somehow manages to express his thoughts, ignoring any recognised taboos or restrictions. His style is innovative, fresh, and consistently well informed. We have read with great interest his latest book “The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity” (*). It is a very moving account that should be read by many.



Silvia Cattori: “The Wandering who?” — What stands behind this provocative title?

Gilad Atzmon: “The Wandering Who?” attempts to search for a deeper understanding of Jewish culture and Jewish identity politics. It is there to tackle some issues most of us prefer to avoid. Three years ago Israeli historian Shlomo Sand published his ground breaking work on Jewish history, thus dismantling the phantasmal Jewish historical narrative.

In my book, I attempt to take Sand’s quest one step further and elaborate on the problematic Jewish attitude towards history, the past , and temporality in general. Five years ago American academics Mearsheimer and Walt published an invaluable study on the Israeli Lobby in the United States [1]. I again try to pick up their research where they left off. I try to explain why lobbying is inherent to Jewish politics and culture.

Two decades ago, Israel Shahak published his crucially important study of the Talmud, and in my work, I want to extend his study, and grasp the deeply racist and anti-gentile attitude that is intrinsic to any form of Jewish secular identity politics, be it Zionism, Jewish socialism and even Jewish anti Zionism. In “The Wandering Who?” I try to shake every common perception of Jewish identity politics.

Silvia Cattori: “The Wandering Who?” is a very impressive testimony. It can not be ignored, including by your opponents. I think it can safely be said that no one before you has explained so frankly some of the thorniest aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Your analysis is important for anyone seeking to understand what certain groups want to hide, and why. It should lead people that are deliberately kept in the dark and in a state of confusion, to see things more clearly. This includes, of course, the so-called ‘progressive’ circles.

Gilad Atzmon: Thanks so much for your support and compliments.

Silvia Cattori: However, you are stepping into a minefield. One may also wonder whether you are exposing your thoughts and perspectives because, as an ex-Israeli, you feel shame.

Gilad Atzmon: That is a good point. I suppose that at a certain point in the past, it is true to say that I started to feel shame and guilt. However I realised many years ago that guilt only becomes a meaningful sensation once it is transformed into responsibility. Unlike some of the Jewish anti Zionists who cheerfully and righteously declare ‘not in my name’, I know very well that every Israeli crime is indeed committed in my name, in spite of the fact that I have not lived there for many years. I am very troubled by it.

Silvia Cattori: Does this mean that the writing of “The Wandering Who?” was a way for you to settle your personal score with the "tribe"?

Gilad Atzmon: To be more precise, it isn’t actually “the tribe” which I criticise but the racially oriented sense of ‘tribalism’ which stands at the core of every form of Jewish identity politics.

Silvia Cattori: Would you say that this great overhaul was spurred by your desire to alert mankind to what you consider to be the real danger, i.e. the Jewish ideology?

Gilad Atzmon: I am indeed primarily concerned with the ideology. I also argue that it isn’t just the Palestinians that are implicated. I am very alarmed by Jewish relentless lobbying and its destabilising power globally. The fact that the AJC (American Jewish Committee) advocates war against Iran is very worrying. But I am also monitoring the Jewish Left activism and I am very troubled by my findings.

Silvia Cattori: Is the book an attempt to explain to your readers why it is so difficult to fight the Israeli policy?

Gilad Atzmon: Fighting Israel for what it is — i.e. the Jewish State — simply means an open conflict with the strongest lobbying power on the land. On the one hand we are encountered by heavily funded Zionist institutions; but, on the other hand, we are chased by the so-called Jewish ‘progressive’ network that is primarily engaged in gate keeping the discourse. And, unlike the Zionists, who operate in the open, the Jewish anti Zionists work towards the same goals, but operate in clandestine settings.

Silvia Cattori: You state that “Jewish power” should be put at the centre of the problem – and that, at the same time, the discourse of certain “anti Zionists”, that you regard as misleading, should be challenged. When you write : “Zionism is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine, as some scholars suggest. Zionism is actually a global movement that is fuelled by unique tribal solidarity of third category members…”, you call into question those who characterize Israel as mere ‘settler colonialism’. This is indeed a crucial point. What are your arguments for claiming that it is not simply a colonialist model?

Gilad Atzmon: Indeed, I am disturbed by the lack of intellectual integrity and coherence within our discourse and beyond. It took me some time to grasp that years of Jewish (intellectual) hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse has led to an absurd situation in which criticism of the Jewish state — is shaped primarily by Jewish sensitivities.

Try, for instance, to imagine a situation in which our criticism of capitalism would be shaped in a deliberately over cautious manner — just to make sure that the rich are not offended. Likewise, try to imagine another equally absurd situation, in which our criticism of Nazi ideology would have take into consideration the delicate sensitivities of biological determinists and anti-Semites. It seems equally absurd that we are in such a situation where we have to tread carefully in what we say about Palestinian rights – so as not to offend Jewish people.

And, yes, I say it openly: Zionism is not a colonial movement, and has never been one. Colonialism establishes a clear relationship between a mother-state and a settler-state — yet Zionism has never had a mother state. It is true that Israel exhibits some colonial symptoms, but this is where it starts and ends. Zionism is driven by spirit of Jewish supremacy and a phantasmal notion of ‘homecoming’.

The misleading colonial paradigm was introduced by a few ‘progressive’ thinkers just to make sure that Marx is not left out of the discourse. At least intellectually, what we see here is no more than amusing.

However, it is important to mention here, that the only noticeable colonial aspect within the Zionist reality is the relationships between the Israeli State and the settlements: the exchange there makes it clear who is the ‘mother’ and who is the ‘settler’.

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William T. Hathaway: The Last Jewish Prophet


The Wandering Who, Gilad AtzmonA review of Gilad Atzmon's new book, The Wandering Who?

Gilad Atzmon, OpEdNews contributing writer, has just published a study of Jewish identity politics. The Wandering Who? chronicles his journey away from his Jewish identity, and by extension away from all exclusive identities, into an inclusive humanness. It's a painful journey, a brutally honest self exploration of these internalized tribal impulses. He emerges from the struggle deracinated but emancipated, freed of a destructive load of cultural baggage.

As the poet Allen Ginsberg said, "If you want to be a prophet, you have to tell your secrets." By being brave enough to expose himself in writing, Atzmon has become a prophet, and his prophecy, as I see it, is a completion of the Mosaic journey, but this time as a mass exodus from Jewishness and all other ethnic bondings that split humanity. After 40 centuries of wandering in the desert of chosenness and separation, Jews and Gentiles alike can finally enter the full humanness of one world family, a secular promised land free of divisive group identities.

Jews have been at the forefront of every progressive movement for the past 160 years, and now it's Atzmon's turn. The atrocities of nationalism, both Jewish and non-Jewish, have forced him to the forefront of a movement to abolish all these tribal groupings, starting with his own.

The Wandering Who? is a threat not only to Zionism, but to all religious, ethnic, national, and even gender identities to which people cling. It's a book of radical liberation and as such dangerous to every orthodoxy and structure of power that separates us into antagonistic camps. Atzmon is a true subversive. Much needed.


Now the survival of our species demands that also Christians, Muslims, Americans, Britons, etc. break out of their group mentalities. We can't suddenly erase these categories, but we can relegate them to the background where they no longer determine our identity. Our sense of self can then be based on qualities that unite humanity rather than divide it.


Thanks for showing the way, Gilad.


You can now pre-order Gilad Atzmon's New Book on  or

Soraya Boyd: courageous, fearless and creative

''Embarked upon an earnest journey of self enquiry.  Gilad's need to strike into the very heart of ethics lead him to venture forth in the manner of an artist: courageously,  fearlessly, and creatively. With all the lucid acuity of a forensic but compassionate mind, Gilad scrutinises the landscape of the sum total of his life's experience dissecting his knowledge and understanding with great precision. He does not mistake the map for the land. Gilad's achingly rigorous examination of Jewish identity and the perennial conflictual narrative of its religio-body-politic is searingly honest. There is no attempt to get away from anything however uncomfortable, rather to embrace it openly. A remarkable and thought-provoking work replete with profound insights, which will no doubt cause a great deal of discomfort among particular quarters and rightly so. Ought to be mandatory reading." Soraya Boyd, CEO, Facilitate Global

You can now order Gilad Atzmon's New Book on  or


Garrison Fewell on The Wandering Who

Gilad Atzmon's book, "The Wandering Who?" is a must-read for anyone who has wondered if peace in the Middle East will ever be more than a remote possibility. If, like most people, you have felt frustrated that there appears to be no solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, or if you have perhaps considered that what we call the "Middle East Peace Process" is effectively little more than a political publicity campaign to sustain support for Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, then you need to read this book.

There are many who find Atzmon's writings to be extremely controversial. Well, his ideas are supposed to be controversial.  While a serious war is being waged against indigenous Palestinians in the name of Zionism, supported by the United Sates and nations all across Europe, it would be counter productive to avoid controversy. In his attempt to come to terms with and illuminate the deeper underlying causes of this conflict, Atzmon has written a very articulate and insightful book on the nature of Jewish Nationalism, Jewish Identity Politics and what it means to be Jewish. However, it's not necessary to be Jewish to find this book most interesting. Atzmon's writing is self-reflective, intellectual, humorous and brash, while being filled with historical and multi-cultural references - just like the music that Gilad, the talented and successful jazz saxophonist, composes and performs.

I lived in Israel and worked on a Kibbutz at the foothills of the Golan Heights in1972. Since that time, I have been intrigued by the strongly opposing viewpoints surrounding the Isreali - Palestinian war. In his book, "The Wandering Who?", Atzmon encourages the reader to be courageous enough to ask difficult questions while simultaneously reflecting on our own narrow viewpoints. He writes, " If we want to fight Jerusalem, we may have to first confront Jerusalem within. We may have to stand in front of the mirror, look around us, and look for empathy within oursleves.. in case there is any left."  

Gilad Atzmon succeeds in asking difficult and challenging questions, and when you finish reading this book, you may likely as well see a different face in the mirror.

Garrison Fewell
Professor, Berklee College of Music, Boston, Mass.

Endorsements for Gilad Atzmon's The Wandering Who


‘Gilad Atzmon has written an absorbing and moving account of his journey from hard core Israeli nationalist to a de-Zionized patriot of humanity and passionate advocate of justice for the Palestinian people. It is a transformative story told with unflinching integrity that all (especially Jews) who care about real peace, as well as their own identity, should not only read, but reflect upon and discuss widely.’

Professor Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, author of over 20 books, and UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestinian Territories.

‘Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it increasingly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their 'Jewishness.' Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.’

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

‘Gilad Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? is as witty and thought provoking as its title.  But it is also an important book, presenting conclusions about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism which some will find shocking but which are essential to an understanding of Jewish identity politics and the role they play on the world stage.’

Karl Sabbagh is a journalist, television producer and the author of several books including A Rum Affair, Power Into Art, Dr Riemann’s Zeros and Palestine: A Personal History. He is currently the publisher of Hesperus Press


‘Gilad Atzmon‘s The Wandering Who? is a series of brilliant illuminations and critical reflections on Jewish ethnocentrism and the hypocrisy of those who speak in the name of universal values and act tribal. Relying on autobiographical and existential experiences, as well as intimate observations of everyday life, both informed by profound psychological insights, Atzmon does what many critics of Israel fail to do; he uncovers the links between Jewish identity politics in the Diaspora with their ardent support for the oppressive policies of the Israeli state.

Atzmon provides deep insights into “neo-ghetto” politics. He has the courage - so profoundly lacking among western intellectuals - to speak truth to the power of highly placed and affluent Zionists who shape the agendas of war and peace in the English-speaking world. With wit and imagination, Atzmon’s passionate confrontation with neo-conservative power grabbers and liberal yea sayers sets this book apart for its original understanding of the dangers of closed minds with hands on the levers of power.

This book is more than a “study of Jewish identity politics” insofar as we are dealing with a matrix of power that affects all who cherish self-determination and personal freedom in the face of imperial and colonial dictates.’

Professor James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, author of more than 62 books including The Power of Israel in the United States.


‘Atzmon’s insight into the organism created by the Zionist movement is explosive. The Wandering Who? tears the veil off of Israel’s apparent civility, its apparent friendship with the United States, and its expressed solicitude for Western powers, exposing beneath the assassin ready to slay any and all that interfere with its tribal focused ends.’

Professor William A. Cook, Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California, and author of The Rape Of Palestine.

The Wandering Who? features Gilad Atzmon at his delightful and insightful best: engaging, provocative and persuasive.’

Jeff Gates, author of Guilt By Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War


The Wandering Who? is a pioneering work that deserves to be read and Gilad Atzmon is brave to write this book!’

Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo, author and Professor Emeritus in the field of international law. He is director of the Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Brattleboro, Vermont and the former Dean of The Jerusalem School for Law and Diplomacy. 


Kevin Barrett: A joyous affirmation of the end of identity politics

Gilad Atzmon's The Wandering Who - a joyous affirmation of the end of identity politics

As a recovering angry Muslim, I cannot help loving fully-recovered ex-Zionist Jew Gilad Atzmon's The Wandering Who: A Study of Jewish Identity of Politics...and the firestorm it has sparked.

It isn't just the joy of watching Atzmon say all the things about Jewishness that need to be said, but that hardly anybody has the guts to say.

It isn't just the fun of watching Atzmon and his defenders like John Mearsheimer and Jonathan Cook rip apart Zionist thugs like Jeffrey Goldberg and clueless gatekeepers like Andy Newman.

It isn't just the irrepressible voice of Gilad Atzmon, the inspired thinker and jazz artist whose words and ideas are almost as beautiful to listen to as his music.

Most of all, I love this book for its larger message: Identity politics is a dead-end.

For Jews, the end of that dead-end road is the cul-de-sac they're stuck in over in Occupied Palestine.

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Gilad Atzmon: Are They Really ‘The People Of The Book’?

Within minutes after Mearsheimer revealed the typical deceitful operation, the wandering sockpuppets were called in to fight Mearsheimer and Walt at the “Foreign Affair Journal” site. By the time they finished posting their filth, the respected magazine comment section looked indeed like a cyber shtetle.

In a final  desperate attempt to jeopardize the publication of the book and to silence its author. Richard Seymour AKA ‘Lenin Thumb’,  authored a new anti Atzmon manifesto  

I read Richard ‘Lenin’ Seymour’s  text with interest and found out that for some reason, both ‘avant-garde revolutionary’  Seymour’s text, and Guardian’s ‘socialist’  Andy Newman’s drivel are suspiciously far too similar to the unforgettable ‘Aaronovitch Reading Atzmon’ performance at the Oxford Literature Festival.


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Letters to the Guardian: Moral obligation and Jewish identity


I am on the Guardian's letters section  today

Blogger Andy Newman (Comment, 26 September) misrepresented my views.

My latest book, The Wandering Who?, is a study of Jewish identity politics. How to define a Jew is a loaded topic since Jews define themselves in many different ways, some contradictory, and use those definitions to try to achieve political aims. And yet not many people dare to touch upon these subjects for fear of being accused of antisemitism. To paraphrase what I say in my book, "An antisemite used to be someone who hates Jews; nowadays an antisemite is someone Jews hate."

My argument is that since Israel defines itself as the "Jewish state" and it also drops bombs on innocent civilians from aeroplanes decorated with Jewish symbols, it is my moral obligation to grasp what Jewishness and Jewish identity stand for.

Just a few days ago Britain amended its universal jurisdiction laws in response to pressure mounted by the Israeli lobby. In my book I attempt to examine the complex relationships between Israel and the diaspora. I try to grasp the philosophy and ideology at the heart of Israeli lobbying. But I also insist that each of us has the right to express his or her opinion on the subject without being censored, bullied or intimidated by charges of antisemitism.It is very disappointing to see a newspaper renowned for its egalitarian stance publishing, without checking, the unsubstantiated rantings of self-interested campaigners.
Gilad Atzmon

You can now order Gilad Atzmon's New Book on  or