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On Gilad Atzmon’s “The Definitive Israeli Lexicon”

Infamous for his earlier book, “The Wandering Who?: A Study in Jewish Identity Politics” (2011), Gilad Atzmon has collaborated with Italian cartoonist and interior designer, Enzo Apicella to produce “The Definitive Israeli Lexicon, A to Zion”.

Since the publication of “The Wandering Who?” Atzmon has been vilified and dragged through the mud of slander by the Jewish/Israeli establishment, accused of anti-Semitism and being a self-hating Jew.  Born in Israel of Jewish parents, and having served in the IDF, Atzmon became disenchanted, to say the least, with Israel and its policies in Palestine and against the Palestinian people.  He moved to England to follow a career in jazz music as a talented saxophone player, and put himself through university where he studied philosophy and earned a masters degree.

Atzmon has been on the road playing concerts and lecturing on the meaning of his book for a number of years, and despite the criticisms of it, it still sells widely and has had an enormous influence on public opinion of Judaism and Israeli policies.  The same public who were moved by Walt and Mearsheimer’s book, “The Israeli Lobby”, are moved by Atzmon.atzmonlex

The book under review is, on the surface, of a much different nature.  “A to Zion” is intended to be a book of humor, attacking the shibboleths of Zionism.  But, as we know, Jewish humor is directed at itself and is often self deprecating.  Atzmon uses it often in his lectures and conferences.  And in his travels he has picked up a lot of this humor and translates it in this book as jabs against Zionism.  A short aphoristic book of only a hundred or so pages, it is designed to alphabetically define certain aspects of Zionism and Zionist personalities in one-liner jabs.  Interspersed throughout are delicious cartoons by Apicella, a cartoonist I have never encountered before this book.  His drawings are clever enough to be editorial cartoons in any newspaper.  They probably are in Italy.

Here are just a few of the one liners that grab attention:

* Aliya – Jewish immigration to Israel; initially it was supposed to solve the Jewish question.  In practice, it just moved it to a new location.

* Bar Mitzvah – the moment when the male Jew accepts that his foreskin is not going to grow back.

* Humour, Jewish – diverts attention from the problematic symptoms by means of self-deprecation.

* Zionism – a false promise to take the Jews away and to give the goyim a break.

Please, run out and buy a copy of this book.  It will knock a hole in all your prejudices.

A short video on The Definitive Israeli Lexicon.

Eugene Schulman lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

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