Jewry under Bolshevism

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Fri Jun 28 11:16:42 MDT 1996

On Friday, June 28th, Jeff Booth wrote, in part:

> I was wondering
>if you've ever read:  Zionism False Messiah by Nathan Weinstock and The
>Jewish Question by Abraham Leon?  If so, what did you think of them?

No, unfortunately, I have not.   My interest was first piqued during my 1992
Congressional Campaign in central and western  Massachusetts.    Worcester,
which bordered the 1st District, has a huge Russian Jewish population, many
of whom had been at some point sympathetic to the Marxist enterprise.   A
number had even been members of the CPSU.    Because I was running a broad
left-wing campaign as an open Communist, quite a few of them saw fit to
contact me, for one reason or another.     I subsequently became close
friends with several, including the former chief administrative assistant to
Yegor Gaidor, when he was editor of the YCL journal, Kommunist (several
years before his fateful conversion to the joys of "shock therapy").

Up to that point, I had more or less assumed that stories of Soviet
anti-semitism were largely the fabrications of Zionist elements in the US,
in league with various intelligence agencies working to excite popular
indignation and hostility toward the Soviet Union.    This is, I still
believe, a tenable view.   However, it is clear that, while the Bolshevik
Revolution represents, as Professor Schapiro implies, a step forward for
Russian Jewry, its earlier promise was badly vitiated by policies of both
the Soviet government and Communist Party (particularly after they became
one and the same), as well as by the anti-semitic impulse, which, while
experiencing periods of eclipse (for example during the formation, in 1942,
of a Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow), was never far below the
surface.    Add to this the growing influence of Zionism, which since the
1890s had come to compete on a growing scale with Social Democracy and later
Communism for the allegiance of Jewish intellectuals and the Jewish youth in
Russia.    Hebrew literature, disliked both for its religious and
nationalist associations, led an underground existence from about 1919 on.
Yiddish was viewed somewhat more leniently until the 1930s.

A number of my Worcester friends were the children or grandchildren of Jews
who had been "settled" in various parts of Southern Russia and the Crimea
during the 1920s, in an attempt to "give" the Jewish population a
territorial and agricultural basis.    One was a veteran of a Jewish
"national district" which was organized, with American money,  in the
Kherson department of the Ukraine with a population of nearly 17,000 of whom
nearly all were said to be Jews.    Similar schemes, I am told, were tried
in the large and sparsely populated region of Birobidjan in eastern Sibera.
None met with outstanding success (though Birobidjan was eventually
proclaimed a Jewish National Republic in 1947!).

After the creation of Israel, which, significantly, was also the year of the
Marshall Plan, and especially after the 1967 War, the role of Soviet Jews
grew more problemmatic.    The anti-Semitic frenzy of the last five years of
the Stalin era, culminating in the openly anti-Semitic nuances of the
Doctors' Plot affair, can no doubt be explained as an aggravation of earlier
Soviet attitudes.    It should also be noted that the persecution of the
Russian Jews was an important factor in sharpening Israeli hostility to the
Soviet Union.    But of course the influence was reciprocal, and owed as
much to Israel's dependence on the US and the general configuration of cold
war politics as did anything else.`

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