I greatly enjoyed reading Gilad Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics.” Here, I explain the book as best I can.
I am not Jewish, however, as a gentile I spent my whole life in America’s ultra-Zionist Mid-Atlantic. I was 8 when I received a tongue-lashing from my 3rd grade public school teacher for not believing the “soap and lampshades” story. My father, meanwhile—forever rebelling against his unsophisticated Christian relatives—made icons of secular Jews; the man would practically drool over any quote from Isaac Asimov, Elie Wiesel or Milton Friedman.
So I learned firsthand that Jews are America’s “sacred cows”—if you practiced “cow-tipping” there would come stern reprisals. Yet this isn’t about Jewish privileges. Instead, it’s about the young Jewish man or woman being told how they must identify themselves. Furthermore, there is a stipulation: “you can only identify yourself by your dissimilarities to those in your immediate surroundings.” Profound, yet real—and it’s very hard to argue this isn’t happening.
If I hated Jews—if I held some Nazi perspective they were nothing but “sub-humans”—then I wouldn’t bother reviewing a book like this. Likewise, I am not irreligious myself. Yet cannot religions tolerate as much intellectual scrutiny from their detractors as from their supporters?
For anyone who would debate me on this, I suggest they read the book. It’s not stupid, so it doesn’t deserve be brought down to the level of non-cogent, emotional-laden damnation. I tried to review it with the respect it deserves, and so I expect people debating me to give me the respect I deserve.
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