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on 30 December 2011
A very interesting book.
Courageous, concise and clear.
It is surprisingly easy to read given the gravitas of it's subject.

Gilad, it seems, loves deconstructing ideas, especially accepted orthodox ones.
'We are what we choose to be' is just one of his interesting observations.
The book joins the dots and exposes, among other things, the many and various strands of zionist thought for what they are.
Essentially 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 pre tense ?

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 example) for decades with just this sort of ploy, and I have to say the ploy is wearing a bit thin.

The idea that one can somehow neatly separate 'Jewish' and 'zionist' is pure fantasy.
Have people not noticed that Israel is (and always has been) routinely defined by Jews (and others) as 'the Jewish state' ?
Israel was created in May 1948 by Jews, 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 both a logical, and indeed necessary project to me.

'Project Israel' was set up as a secular state, supposedly 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 'Jewish identity' lays at the heart of the project and consequently is surely a legitimate subject for investigation ?

Also, the roots of the elitist and chauvinistic aspects of zionism lay in classical Jewish theology (talmudic law) so to pretend that the two subjects are quite distinct is dishonest.
Further, to claim to be 'anti-zionist' and then to seek to attack (either verbally or otherwise) someone who seeks to understand 'Jewish identity' is somewhat illogical and indeed absurd ?

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' and 'Jewish identity'.
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 (though I am not Jewish, much less 'who-ish')

I apologise in advance for my rather poor sense of humour !
One mustn't joke about such subjects, or so it would seem.

Gilad is very clearly on something of a rocky journey toward understanding.
Understanding the central themes that shaped his life growing up in the newly formed Israeli state and seeking to legitimise it's conception (or not), and just like the story of 'the King's new clothes', on seeking he finds that there is curiously little justifiable substance underpinning the whole project.
Jewish identity is, it seems, surprisingly elusive, yet 'Jewish Identity' is the justification for the creation of the Israeli (Jewish) state.

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

If you like 'thinking outside the box' you will surely enjoy this book ?

An absorbing journey, intelligently articulated.
Not a book for the rigid thinker.
To anyone who finds this book interesting I would also recommend 'Jewish History, Jewish Religion' written by Israel Shahak, a wonderfully warm, intelligent man who sadly is no longer with us.
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on 31 May 2012
One wonders why a book of this nature should excite such hostility as it honestly unpicks a contemporary issue and contextualizes it with intellectual and emotional power. Why questioning such an issue should ever be labelled as anti-Semitic betrays a lack of reason, and an inability to face reality, as everything we do needs to be examined with this kind of care if we are to understand something about how it came to be so, beyond the propaganda we are all saturated by in our daily lives.

Well written, heartfelt and with answers to the problem - a book everyone should read: after all, Atzmon says his piece in the name of peace!
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on 3 September 2013
Excellent story of a voyage of discovery by a man who realised he was on the wrong route and on the wrong boat which was manned by the wrong crew. It says a lot about the state of Israel. I liked it a lot.
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on 26 December 2011
I found it a very informative book, a true eye opener. It should be read by anyone who is interested in Middle Eastern affairs.
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on 1 January 2014
The author shows how 955 of todays Jews are, in fact, Ashkenazi Khazar tribe pagans, from eastern Turkey, who converted en masse to Talmudism a thousand years ago.

Their ancestors never set foot in ancient Palestine. The Palestinians are the jews of biblical Judea, who converted to islam in 700 AD, to avoid taxes and are the true indigenous people of Palestine.

During its long history, many tribes and peoples inhabited ancient Judea and Samaria and Palestine. One such tribe, the Israelites, may indeed also have briefly also lived there, but for a few hundred years only. Imagine all the previous inhabitants were to arrive and make the same claims the converted zionist pagans do today?

Todays jews follow the Talmud, a collection of man-made laws and traditions , which deviates from Moses 10 Commandments. A good book
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on 24 November 2011
I thought I had already reviewed this book, but apparently my review got stuck in the ether. This book has important things to say. Furthermore, it has quite a few epiphanic moments where ideas and facts come together in bright flashes.

It also suffers, in my view, from two failings in Mr. Atzmon's writing style, one of which can be forgiven by the fact that he didn't begin to live in an English-speaking country until he was in his twenties. That is, his English is sometimes awkward, even occasionally very awkward; more often than awkward, it is a wild mixture of high and low styles, academic jargon, slang, and puns. It's an exuberant style, to be sure, but sophomoric. The other failing, which shows up in the first, is his frequent resorting to Big Name intellectuals for support. Half of a university Philosophy syllabus gets mentioned -- the half that is most difficult to understand. I am a fairly well educated person (Yale & Univ of Chicago), and I actually studied much of the stuff that Atzmon refers to -- but I take no pleasure in it now. It's the sort of thing that is better absorbed and understood than quoted, where it may sound ostentatious or arrogant, or both. The mere mention of Heidegger causes me to fall into a trance. Fortunately, Heidegger isn't necessary to Atzmon's arguments. Unfortunately, he gets trotted out anyway. Same for lots of folks that one might well have done without -- Jacque Lacan, among them. But while these cameo appearances are irritations -- and suggest that Mr Atzmon may from time to time truly believe, as he sometimes says, that he is "just a jazz musician," and therefore in need of extra artillery -- they do not make this book valueless. Far from it. They make it harder to read than it should be, and will in some degree limit its readership. But they do not reduce its importance.

One thing is clear from reading the book, even reading just the opening of it: this is not a book about Judaism, a religion; it is also not a book about people who follow that religion in any of its forms. It is a book about the sorts of tribalism and self-identification that contributes to absurdities of exceptionalism and racism and that underpin the formation and expansion of the modern State of Israel and its sense of "right." To oversimplify his argument, it is Mr Atzmon's view that the modern state of Israel is a scam, a conjurer's trick -- unjustified and duplicitous. He looks at modern Israel from all sorts of angles -- and pulls the rug out from most if not all the assumptions and arguments generally used to support it. In each case, what he says is that Israel isn't special. What he points out is that specialness was used to justify its formation and is still used to further its influence with much larger, richer, and more important nations. (Who, in fact, can seriously argue otherwise?) If Israel isn't special, then Israelis aren't special. Their claims are not special. They occupy no moral highground. They have no rights greater or lesser than the rights of others. And, therefore, they ought not to receive special treatment or dispensation. All this makes simple sense, and none of it is anti-Semitism.

It may or may not be true, but it certainly isn't racist to say that Israelis are racist. It isn't anti-Semitic to say that Israel has stolen the lands of the Arab peoples who were there prior to 1948 -- and it doesn't matter whether one calls them Palestinians, Arabs, or subjects of the Ottoman empire. Theft doesn't depend on the identity of the victim, or on the identity of the perpetrator. Theft depends only on a taking by someone of something to which he has no proper legal claim. The only question here has to do with "proper legal claim." Everything else is a red herring. Atzmon argues that there is no proper legal claim. He also deflates arguments that appear to substitute for a proper legal claim. This is analysis, not ranting. It is based on the logical presentation of discreet ideas and facts, and by its nature it cannot be anti-Semitic so long as the logic is proper and the ideas and facts are genuine. If that is so, then the conclusions will be irrefutable, and all the mumbo jumbo intoned to the contrary is no more relevant than saying the earth and all the creatures in it were made by God in six days. They weren't. Those who believe they were are entitled to believe it, but they are not entitled to participate in any argument worthy of the name. It isn't anti-Semitic to say that modern Israel has no real connection to ancient Israel other than the misfortunate to overlap with it on maps. It isn't anti-Semitic to say that modern Israel is a highly manipulative place that is capable of and willing to bring about regional (and perhaps larger) wars, more or less just because it can. All these things may or may not be true, but none of them is anti-Semitic. It sounds as though those who claim Atzmon is an anti-Semite and his book anti-Semitic are simply trying to prevent those who minds are still open and willing to absorb new points of view from discovering ideas and arguments they had not previously considered. It's a shame if the book-burners ever again succeed.
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on 11 November 2011
Gilad Atzmon slowly demolishes the Zionist myths that have fed the Israeli psyche to make it an oppressive occupier who has scant regard for the sanctity of life. In no way is this book anti-Semitic as some would like to claim. If you need to understand why Gilad wrote this book please visit his web page before purchasing. The amazing thing that I found when I read the book was that Gilad is so articulate and knows exactly what he wants to say and says it in the fewest words possible. The conclusion is an eye opener, although the dots are already there, Gilad expertly joins them up in the best way possible. "The Book of Esther" was the best chapter and this relates brilliantly to what the Lobby is doing for Israeli interests to the detriment of others . The issue of the "primacy of the ear" was an eye opener. A must read for anyone interested in finding out why the Israeli's are behaving the way they are and what the might do next.
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on 3 June 2013
Very courageous and honest book, well written and easy to read considering the seriousness of the subject.

The book provided me with a lot of new and useful information. I would have given it the full 5-Stars had the author touched on the subject of the mafia of the financial institutions.
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on 2 November 2011
I commend this book to anyone interested in Palestine/Israel, the Middle East in general, or Jewish identity issues. Be ready for controversy, but it is well worth the journey. Atzmon says many things that need saying. I don't agree with everything herein -- I'd need hard evidence that the housing and financial debacles were intended to take our minds off the Middle East -- but Atzmon's views reflect much of what I have thought over the years. When one sees Atzmon's place in the long tradition of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, Rabbi Elmer Berger, Israel Shahak, Alfred Lilienthal, and others, he doesn't seem nearly as radical as he does to those who neglect this context.

Highly recommended!
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on 29 August 2014
A courageous book that lays bare Jewish identity politics and it's corrosive and corrupting influence on our societies. It is a must read for anyone who is interested or concerned about the future of humanity.
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