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Backgrounder: Gilad Atzmon

Posted: January 30, 2012

Gilad Atzmon is an anti-Semitic author, writer and musician based in London. Born in Israel to a Jewish family, Atzmon now describes himself as an "an ex-Israeli" and an "ex-Jew." He is an outspoken and prolific promoter of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish control over American foreign policy, and has written that Jews have a plan for world domination.  He has trafficked in anti-Semitic canards such as the notion that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus.


For at least a decade, Atzmon has written blogs, articles and books that call up traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes while demonizing Israel, Zionism, and Jewish culture and identity. 


He has been an outspoken critic of the State of Israel and expresses support for Palestinian terrorist groups. Atzmon advocates for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a solution that would mean the demise of the Jewish state.


Frequent themes in Atzmon's writings include:


·        Conspiracy theories about Jewish responsibility and control.  Atzmon has directly accused Jews of excessive control in various arenas of public life and has blamed Jews and Israel for being secretly complicit in a range of incidents in the news.


·        Open support for terrorist groups that engage in violent resistance against Israel.  In an interview with a fringe Web site in February 2011, he stated, "I support…Hezbollah, and I support Hamas."  Similarly, in a 2010 interview with Palestine Chronicle, Atzmon described Qassam rockets aimed at Israeli civilian areas by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza as a "love letter from the Palestinian's stolen land."


·        Holocaust trivialization and distortion.  Atzmon alleges that Israeli policies toward Palestinians are even bolder and more egregious than the Nazis' treatment of Jews.   Writing in a summer 2009 article in Adbusters, he claimed that during the Gaza War, Israel "slaughter[ed] defenseless people in broad daylight" while the Nazis tended to kill Jews in a more "shy" manner.  He invokes the Holocaust to condemn Israel.  In a 2003 article titled, "On Anti-Semitism," he stated that ignoring the "Palestinian Holocaust," including the turning of Palestinian cities into "concentration camps," is the form of Holocaust denial that "really bothers" him.  He has also described Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as a "Shoa," using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.


·        Predictions of Israel's Demise.  In a May 2011 article titled "Israel's Doomed Fate," Atzmon predicted Israel would soon cease to exist.  He wrote that the "countdown has begun" and that Israel is approaching "its final stage."  He frequently describes Israel as the "biggest threat to world peace" but at the same time appears to be very confident that Israel's destruction is imminent.  Atzmon supports a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would consist of a "state of all its citizens." In an article on his Web site reacting to the May 15, 2011 protests along the Israeli borders, Atzmon said he envisioned the collapse of the Zionist project and that the only "ethical and universal solution to the conflict" is the transformation of Israel into Palestine "from the river to the sea."


·        Demonization of Jewish culture and identity.  Atzmon frequently rails against what he terms "Jewishness" and claims that anti-Semitism is merely a political response to the "disease" that is Zionism.  He often attempts to legitimize his overt anti-Semitism by explaining that he is only against "Jewish ideology," not Jews or Judaism. He also rejects the notion that Jewishness and democracy can co-exist. "Tolerance, democracy and liberalism," Atzmon has written, "are foreign to Jewish political precepts which are all racially orientated and supremacist to the bone.


Conspiracy Theories about Jewish Control


Gilad Atzmon has directly accused Jews of excessive control regarding various arenas of public life and responsibility for a range of incidents.


In an opinion piece shortly after the Norway massacre in July 2011 he alleged it was possible that the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik had been sent by the Israeli Mossad.  Atzmon claimed it was plausible that Breivik is a "Shabbos goy," commissioned by Israel because many children in the camp had anti-Zionist leanings.


In a February 2011 interview, Atzmon fashioned himself as a sort of one-man army against the Jewish lobby, claiming, "I like to fight alone; I take responsibility. Along the years, there have been a lot attempts to destroy the few of us who have stood up against Jewish power." He also stated, "We are all subject to Zionist global politics. According to my model, the credit crunch is in fact a Zionist 'punch'."


In his 2003 article "On Anti-Semitism," Atzmon argued that "Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously" and referenced the disproportionate number of Jews that worked in the Clinton and Bush administrations as evidence.  He alleged that the authenticity of the infamous 19th century anti-Semitic forgery "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" was irrelevant because, "American Jews do try to the control the world…So far, they are doing pretty well for themselves at least."   A newer version of this article, which currently appears on Atzmon's site, replaced the words "Jewish people" in the first quote with "Zionists," and the second quote cited above now reads "American Jews (namely Zionists)…" The initial version, which only used the term "Jews" and "Jewish" and was more blatantly anti-Semitic, can still be retrieved online.




Many of Atzmon's writings are infected with blatant anti-Semitism. He legitimizes anti-Semitic rhetoric (and even crimes) as rational responses to Zionism


In an August 2009 article about an attack on a gay center in Tel Aviv, Atzmon alleged that democracy and tolerance are "foreign to the spirit of Jewishness." He also explained the attack as emblematic of the Israelis' "murderous lethal tactics" and charged that "the Jewish state…is one of the least tolerant places on this planet. It is fuelled by hatred towards others and Otherness."


During an address at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2005, Atzmon went so far as to legitimize hate crimes against Jews, saying, "I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act."


Atzmon authored an article titled "On Anti-Semitism" in 2003 that remains his most virulently anti-Semitic piece to date.  In the article, Atzmon alleged that "Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus" and that Jewish outrage in response to the deicide charge only served to further prove their accountability. He also argued that anti-Semitic acts and attitudes are "political responses" to Zionism and cannot be interpreted as racially motivated or irrational incidents of anti-Semitism.


In the article, he posits that Israel benefits from anti-Semitism because it engenders global support for Israel and that Israel therefore engages in behavior toward Palestinians that will spur anti-Semitic reactions, a phenomenon he calls "the Zionist perpetuum mobile."


Holocaust Diminution


Gilad Atzmon engages in Holocaust diminution.  He uses language and references that are appealing to, and have been cited by, some of the world's best known Holocaust deniers, including David Duke and Ernst Zundel, who claimed that Atzmon had described the Holocaust as a "forgery."


He defends the right of Holocaust deniers to challenge historical narratives and offer revisionist theories and has circulated and quoted from the works of Paul Eisen, a British Holocaust denier who claims that the "Holocaust narrative and its enforcement are major arms of Jewish or Zionist power."


In his most recent book, The Wandering Who, Atzmon envisions a scenario where Israel pre-emptively strikes Iran and the result is an all-out war.  He then writes, "I guess that amongst the survivors of such a nightmare scenario, some may be bold enough to argue that 'Hitler might have been right after all.'"


Strained Relations with the Anti-Israel Left


Gilad Atzmon has been criticized by some anti-Israel activists for reinforcing negative stereotypes about the prevalence of anti-Semitism within the anti-Israel movement. The publication of his most recent book, The Wandering Who, was criticized by several anti-Zionist authors because his work "normalize[s] and legitimize[s] anti-Semitism," according to a statement they issued.


Furthermore, anti-Zionists have tried to protest and/or urge the cancellation of a variety of events throughout Europe featuring Atzmon that were openly anti-Semitic, including a session on "Jewishness, Zionism and Israel," which ultimately did take place in London in May 2011.


In turn, Atzmon has condemned anti-Zionists who insist on extracting anti-Jewishness from the anti-Israel movement as "crypto Zionists," arguing that if the anti-Israel left truly wants to stop Israel it must "openly question the notion of Jewish power." He has further described Jewish anti-Zionists as "another manifestation of Jewish tribal supremacy." 


Despite his rocky relationship with some anti-Israel activists, Atzmon has been invited by a variety of anti-Israel groups in the U.S. to perform and speak at local events, including at a fundraiser for the second Gaza Flotilla that took place in Oakland, California, in May 2011. Atzmon also performed and provided a Q&A session about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at an event in Houston in June 2009 sponsored by the Houston Coalition for Justice & Peace in Palestine, a local anti-Israel group.

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