Friday, September 23, 2011

Who else endorsed Gilad Atzmon's "The Wandering Who?"

There's been several blog posts recently on John Mearsheimer's endorsement of Gilad Atzmon's book, The Wandering Who, but there are several other remarkable (or appalling) blurbs on the book:

1) Richard Falk has a blurb on the front cover of the book: "Gilad Atzman 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." Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, author of over 20 books, and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestinian Territories. It appears that he has now also decided that he should be ashamed of his Jewish identity. He appears to be a frequent contributor to Counterpunch.

2) James Petras - not a surprise (he is the inventor of the phrase "Zionist Power Configuration" as the new term for the international Jewish conspiracy - we've got to move on from the Protocols, after all. He is a frequent contributor to Counterpunch). He writes: "‘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."

3) Alan Hart: "THE WANDERING WHO? is a magnificent title for this challenging and incredibly controversial book. Author Gilad Atzmon quotes Israel Shahak: “The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew and the Israelis make me ashamed to be a Jew.” In what Gilad calls this Study of Jewish Identity Politics is the explanation of why he, too, is ashamed to be a Jew."

4) Robert Wyatt: "A seriously funny writer and the wittiest musician since Ronnie Scott…We’re lucky Gilad Atzmon is around. "

5) Karl Sabbagh: "A book by a professional saxophone player, a philosopher, and an anti-Zionist Jew promises to be an unusual read, particularly since they are all the same person. 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."

6) William Cook: "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." He is professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, The Rape of Palestine, The Chronicles of Nefaria, and The Plight of the Palestinians

7) Samir Abed-Rabbo: "The Wandering Who? is a pioneering work that deserves to be read and Gilad Atzmon is brave to write this book!’" According to the Zero Books website: "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."


  1. This is probably your best post ever.

  2. You may like to know that a number of other Zer0 authors have made public moves to distance themselves from the book - see the open letter here:

    I have personally communicated with Tariq Goddard of Zer0, who has made it clear he was unaware of any of Atzmon's previous comments or reputation up until the time it was financially impossible for them to withdraw the book.

  3. Why, then, has Zero Books just come out with a stirring defense of their decision to publish Atzmon? I understand that they have contractual obligations - but sometimes the moral thing is to break the contract and take the consequences. Even other authors published by Zero have now issued a statement denouncing Atzmon.

  4. Yes - their statement is the one I linked to. I hadn't read the official statement when I posted my comment, but Tariq in his communication with me expressed regret about the matter, and the fact that he had been unaware of the background. I'm not saying they shouldn't have done a bit more work in finding out what Atzmon stands for, but it's certainly wrong to paint them as a 'hate publisher' as Harry's Place have done. The official statement doesn't go into as much detail, unfortunately, but I believe that pulling the book at this late stage would have been both financially and legally a devastating move for Zer0. They did however request that Atzmon not associate them with anything not expressly in the book (I, like most people talking about it, haven't read it so can't comment on whether *this specific text* is or is not anti-semitic).

    I'm not trying to defend Zer0 - just sharing some information in order to clarify the nature of the situation.

  5. " he was unaware of any of Atzmon's previous comments or reputation"

    A hardly credible excuse.

    Nowadays the first thing smart people do when confronted with an unknown (or new author) is to look them up on the web.

    Either Tariq Goddard is a fool or willingly complicit with the pushing of anti-Jewish racism, only he will truly know which is which, but those feeble excuses don't really work.