The Wandering Who?: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics (Paperback)
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Short Description for The Wandering Who? An explosive unique crucial book tackling the issues of Jewish Identity Politics and ideology and their global influence.
- Published: 30 September 2011
- Format: Paperback 177 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781846948756 ISBN 10: 1846948754
- Sales rank: 85,355
Reviews for The Wandering Who?
- Top review
A welcome addition to the discussion of Israel and the Palestinian people
The grandson of a former prominent commander in the right-wing Irgun terror organization, Gilad Atzmon was raised to believe in Jewish righteousness and Arab duplicity. To him, as to the majority of Israel's Jewish citizens, Palestinians were just people who wandered about doing low-paying jobs. And then, late one night on a radio jazz program, he heard Charlie "Bird" Parker and his saxophone and his world suddenly expanded. He had never heard such organic, poetic, sentimental and wild music in his life. Then he discovered that Parker and his fellow jazzmen were black Americans, and made a second discovery: Jews were not the only people in the world to create great things, they were only one people among memory. Thus began his awakening.
And then he joined the IDF at the beginning of the first Israel - Lebanon war and went to Ansar, "a notorious Israeli internment camp in South Lebanon." The Palestinians he saw there were very different from the Palestinians he was familiar with in Jerusalem. These men were not defeated, they were angry freedom fighters "and they were numerous." Walking along outside the barbed wire, he arrived at what he calls "an unbearable truth: he "was walking on the other side, in Israeli military uniform, and I was nothing but a 'Nazi'." Reading that, I was reminded of a day in the summer of 1954 when my best friend let me know what it had been like growing up black in my home town (Seattle). I was shocked to my core. How could anyone do that to my friend, and to all his friends and family members. It was as much a life-changing experience for me as was Gilad Atzmon's experience walking the perimeter at Ansar.
Gilad Atzmon asks some very uncomfortable questions in this book. Who are the Jews? What is Jewishness? Are the Jews one People, as Zionist and Israeli ideology says, or are they a conglomerate of many peoples who have merged over the years. His conclusion, and mine, are that they come from many origins, not one. The notion that they are the descendants of exiles from ancient Israel is good mythistory, but it is just that. So the modern State of Israel has no foundation or justification in history, no right to occupy Palestine and drive out its Arab inhabitants.
Atzmon has been accused of being an anti-Semite (a word that has come to have a very narrow meaning as "someone who criticizes Israel"). Yet nowhere in the book does he refer to Jews as an ethnicity or "race"; instead, he differentiates between Jews (the people), Judaism (the religion) and Jewish-ness (the ideology). It is this third category that is significant because it signifies a political commitment to defend the Jewish State, even if it means betraying the country you live in an are a citizen of. Zionism's greatest strength, he writes, has been transforming Jewish-ness into a thought collective that can be counted on to serve Israel.
This is a valuable book that deserves the popularity it is receiving. by George Polley