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Anti-Zionism is celebrated on a New York Jewish stage, at Yivo panel on Bundism

Opinion
on 34 Comments

The Jewish, secular, socialist, anti-Zionist Arbeiter Bund party of the old Russian Empire brought an overflow crowd last month to the auditorium at the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street, New York City.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research held a September 16 panel discussion on “Bundism’s Influence Today” — on its alternative vision of being Jewish in the world, opposite to Zionism’s premise that genuine Jewish life yearns for Jewish political sovereignty.

“The General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia” union was founded in 1897, the same year as the first Zionist Congress in Basel.

The history of the Bund offers a contrast to the Zionist achievement of evicting Palestinians from their cities and villages, and indulging in Eretz Yisrael kitsch and fantasy.

“The Jewish Colonies in Palestine were Founded on the Catastrophe of the Arabs,” declared the title of a 1917 article by a Bundist writer in New York’s Forverts (Forward) newspaper — representing the Bund’s refusal from the start to ignore the rights of Arabs in Palestine who were in the way of the Zionist design.

Palestine refugees initially displaced to Gaza board boats to Lebanon or Egypt, in 1949. (Hrant Nakashian/1949 UN Archives)

The Bund’s history of fighting for workers’ rights, social equality and dignity, fostering Jewish autonomy and forming alliances, cruelly ended in the crucible of Bolshevik totalitarianism and Nazi predation of Poland.

Panel moderator Jack Jacobs said the Bund had a program that can be respected and replicated today, promoting a diaspora-oriented perspective as a nationally conscious group that is not nationalist, but rather Jewish and secular.

Instead of fixing on Palestine as the place of the Jewish future, the Bund approach was expressed in the slogan, “Where we are is our home.”

Jacobs told the audience that after the 1917 Revolution the Bund was first co-opted and ultimately proscribed by the Bolsheviks in Russia. He said:

In the newly independent state of Poland, on the other hand, the Bund flowered in the interwar years. It had enormous influence at that time within the Polish Jewish trade union movement. It helped to establish a network of secular Jewish day schools in which Yiddish was the language of instruction and it fostered a constellation of organizations including Bundist-oriented movements for children and youth, and for women.

Tens of thousands of Polish Jewish workers took courses, attended lectures, or participated in other cultural activities conducted under Bundist auspices.

During the 1930s, the Bund’s popularity and reach notably increased.  By the end of that decade, Bundist candidates were regularly winning massive victories. In Polish municipal elections and in Jewish communal elections. When in 1936 the Bund called on Jewish workers to take part in a general strike, the Jewish areas of major Polish cities were shut tight.

In Warsaw, Poland’s largest city and the city with the largest Jewish population, the Bundist-dominated slate won 17 of the 20 Jewish seats in the last pre-war municipal elections….

The invasion of western Poland by Germany and eastern Poland by the USSR put an end to that era. Though a handful of Bundist leaders ultimately succeeded in escaping this death trap, many died or were killed while in Nazi or Soviet occupied regions.

…Surviving Bundists fostered Bundist organizations in many lands in the post-war years. Only a few of those organizations however succeeded in sustaining themselves as the major survivors died out. But the ideas of the Bund, or at least some of them, live on.

…After decades of being consigned  by its opponents to the dustbin of history, Socialism is once again on the agenda in this country. The Democratic Socialists of America organization, the DSA, that had some 6000 members in 2015, has considerably more than 50,000 at this time, and the bulk of those that have entered the organization in the last couple of years are young people.

Jenny Romaine, a performer who had been a sound archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for 13 years, gave a flavor of the Bund tradition, neither nationalist nor pious, another way of being Jewish, of doykeit (Yiddish) as the Bund put it, “here-ness,” what she calls “Jewish-is-as-Jewish-does” pluralism:

They were secular Jews. My (Bundist) grandfather would say, “We will now not say Shehecheyanu” [a prayer] — but they were dedicated to housing and building and cataloging and preserving the lives of every Jew around the world. So I felt I learned from the Bund, Jewish is as Jewish does, which is a love of that diversity.

Jacobs says that the Bund opposed the idea of building Jewish life in Palestine that would exist behind an iron wall:

In the period immediately before the war, the Bund began to distinguish between Zionism, which it opposed hook, line and sinker… and the legitimate rights of the Jewish community in Palestine, the Yishuv. They thought that, Look, there are Jews that live there, and Jews have a right to live there just as Jews have a right to live elsewhere. And they were perfectly prepared to defend those rights. And in the postwar period, the relatively modest number of surviving Bundists had to cope with the fact that an independent state had been declared. They weren’t in favor of it, but it had happened. And some of their friends, some of their family members, had moved there, and in any event there was a large Jewish community [there].

Into the 1970s, the dwindling numbers of surviving Bundists advocated for a bi-national state but adjusted to the idea of a two-state solution as a stepping stone.

…They continued to say, We oppose Zionism. We oppose the role that Zionists play in the diaspora. We oppose the ways that Zionism undermines and belittles Yiddish culture. We oppose the emphasis on aliyah. We oppose the notion that Israel should be central in Jewish life. There are other Jewish communities that have important needs. …We have to adapt, we have to take into account circumstances. And what that meant to them was openness to other solutions and possibilities.

At panel on Bundism at the Yivo Institute in NY on Sept. 16, 2019, Molly Crabapple, standing, is applauded by l to r) Jack Jacobs, Jacob Plitman, Jenny Romaine, and Irena Klepfisz. Screenshot from Yivo video.

Molly Crabapple brought the crowd to a pitch of excitement with her declaration,

I personally believe in one secular, democratic state where every person is treated like an equal citizen and has an equal vote.  [Whoops and applause.] And incidentally, I would say that in 1948 after Israel was founded that those demands, the right of return for refugees and a state of equal rights for all, which are the basic demands of the BDS movement, were also the Bund’s demands for Israel.

Jacob Plitman, Publisher of Jewish Currents, said that his summers as a youth spent in a Camp Judea in the Appalachians armed him with “a very empowering form of American Jewish Poltical Zionism” — which did not survive his first encounter with Palestinians describing their experience with the consequences of the Zionist state.

This feeling of Israel-centricity of my entire life and Jewish being was shattered upon the encounter with Palestinians. It took only one conversation for this to start to erode after years and years of [summer] camp and having spent a gap year in Israel. I went to Bethlehem as a joke with my friend, just because we were not allowed to go.

As Balaam sent to curse the Israelites, Plitman instead was transformed by a human beauty he saw:

We went, we ended up meeting some activists that were there, and we thought it would be funny if we went on one one of those lefty self-hating tours, and on one of those tours we met an older couple who had survived something they called the nakba, a word I had never heard, and I heard a story reminiscent of my own family’s story of fleeing, and of danger and eventually of resilience inside this camp in Bethlehem that they had been living in for generations.

…this sort of experiences fueled multiple movements inside the Jewish community, who are battling for what the right sort of attitude to Israel is from the standpoint of a diaspora progressive Jew. The Bund, when one has these sort of experiences, interest in it makes a lot of sense because what the Bund does is provide a different history, it provides what a friend of mine calls an answer to the sense of orphan-ness that a lot of Jewish leftys have, that we have no yichus(lineage), and that I went to camp and then I abandoned my community, that I’ve been to the desert of leftism. And the Bund in many ways has an answer for that, and that’s been profoundly important to me and in my work with Jewish Currents.

So part of what has fueled this interest in me and I think in the audience is the crisis of Zionism, that is what is pouring fuel on this curiosity about Jewish leftism, socialism, revolution, etc.

The other half of course is that Israel is not the only place in crisis. We have our own crisis here at home. For many, the Trump era exposed the violence that was for some hidden under the surface. For many of us gone is the illusion that the State, any State, is our salvation. And this will be equally true whoever the next President or Prime Minister is.

These dual crises, the crisis of Zionism and the crisis of American capitalism, in terms of the idea of capitalism having failed Jews — we are under the exact same pressures of downward mobility and deindustrialization, deunionization and oppression as other folks — I think there are some myths about our inherent class uplift, which is certainly not true for working-class Jews and not true for Jews in general — these two crises, the crisis of Zionism and the crisis of American capitalism, that’s what’s framing this predicament. That’s why for me the Bund is interesting.

Speaking of the moneyed interests that have captive American Jewish organizations, Plitman stated flatly:

There is a ton of debate about what Jews are, whether a nation, civilization, a people, etc. To me what is important is the paucity, the almost total lack of forums to even have this debate in a serious way. I think it’s notable that hundreds of people will come to an event about the Bund.

But let’s say we all want to go vote about which of these words describe what Jews are. Where would you go? There are no democratic [representative] institutions inside the Jewish community. The community is by-and-large run by a donor class, like every other community is run by an oligarchy…. In this space (YIVO) what happens is we end up debating these political questions, but it [interest in the Bund] reflects the desire for a political space where we could decide such things.

Yiddish poet and Bund scholar Irena Klepfisz commented that as she came out as a lesbian, she allied with other left feminist Jews whose experience of being a secular Jew was “nothing” — that it meant no observance, embarassment by the the Hasidim, and that in contrast being raised by Bundist parents and their friends, she was grateful for a secular Judaism that was more than “nothing.”

Klepfisz may be mirroring the observation of Kurt Lewin, the psychologist who wrote in a 1940 essay about identity, included in his 1948 book Resolving Social Conflicts,

For the modern Jew there exists an additional factor to increase his uncertainty. He is frequently uncertain about the way he belongs to the Jewish group, and to what degree. Especially since religion has become a less important social matter, it is rather difficult to describe positively the character of the Jewish group as a whole. A religious group with many atheists? A Jewish race with a great diversity of racial qualities among its members? A nation without a state or a territory of its own containing the majority of its people? A group combined by one culture and tradition but actually having in most respects the different values and ideals of the nations in which it lives? There are, I think, few chores more bewildering than that of determining positively the character of the Jewish group…. No wonder many Jews are uncertain about what it means to belong to the Jewish group…

For Ashkenazi American Jews, the ties of Yiddish language and culture are quite attenuated by now. Unless “strictly” religious, assimilation runs deep. Maintaining Jewish identity has always required not mere survival, but a sense of mission and meaning in relation to gentiles, both in Palestine and the diaspora.

Since Abraham established circumcision as the marker of male membership, and the ever developing refinements of the definition and meaning of a Jew and Jews, the consciously hellenized and “assimilated” have contended with the draw to return to a supposed purity and genuineness of Jewishness.

Now that it has become clear that Zionism ends if not begins as a form of ethnosupremacism, no nobler than Magyar or Hindu, pursuit of justice and rediscovery of the tradition of the Bund might be seen a wholesome development.

Abba Solomon

Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein's Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.’” His website is abbasolomon.com

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34 Responses

  1. Stephen Shenfield on October 27, 2019, 1:05 pm

    My grandmother was born in 1895 in Smorgon, an industrial town in NW Belarus and a Bund stronghold. She remembered the excitement of going to secret nighttime meetings of the Bund in the forest as a young girl. In 1914 Smorgon went up in flames during the pogroms that drove Jews (then suspected of loyalty to Germany) away from the front and into the interior. My grandmother and her sister, sole survivors in their family, joined the column of Smorgon refugees and ended up in Kharkov, where my father was born in 1919.

    After October 1917 the Bund in Russia split into two factions on the basis of willingness or unwillingness to ally with the Bolsheviks. The pro-Bolshevik Bundists were swallowed by the Communist Party, all its members being admitted as CP members. The opposing faction was repressed.

    Another relevant chapter in the history of the Bund is the activity of Bundists in the DP camps after WW2. In opposition to the Zionist demand to “open the gates of Palestine” they raised the slogan: “Open all the gates!” They were beaten and forcibly silenced by Zionist goons.

    Eran Torbiner has made a moving film about the Bund in Israel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvmcRKvyrWk). Unfortunately, the Israeli Bundists appear all to be elderly people.

  2. Misterioso on October 28, 2019, 9:47 am

    During its early years political Zionism had little support within world Jewry. Most did not believe the solution to anti-Semitism was for Jews to leave the country in which they lived and create a new “homeland” in Palestine. What became Eastern Europe’s most influential Jewish organization opposed to Zionism was founded in 1897. Known as the Bund or Jewish Workers League, it rejected the rabbinical tradition (as did Zionism) and hoped to combine socialism with a secular Jewish nationalism based on Yiddish customs which they considered to be the authentic Jewish culture. Members of the Bund believed in cultural autonomy and aspired to create a better life for Jews in Eastern Europe. In their view Zionism was “[A] bourgeois ideology, a reactionary regression from progress….” Inevitably, the Bund was vilified by the rabbinical establishment, the Zionists and the Russian social democrats, but it remained active in Eastern Europe (especially Poland) until silenced by the Nazis. (Benjamim Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins, p. 47)

    • snaidamast on October 28, 2019, 2:29 pm

      A very interesting comment.

      However, I find it odd that these Eastern European Jews would consider Yiddish customs and language as the Authentic Jewish Culture, considering that such a language and customs had nothing to do with ancient Israel or the original basis of the belief system…

      And if I remember correctly, secular Jewish nationalism was more or less an 18th century incarnation when nationalism in general became the norm across Europe…

      • echinococcus on October 28, 2019, 4:15 pm

        “I find it odd that these Eastern European Jews would consider Yiddish customs and language as the Authentic Jewish Culture, considering that such a language and customs had nothing to do with ancient Israel or the original basis of the belief system…”

        That is the obvious result of the Zionist and tribalist legerdemain operated thanks to the Yiddish word “yiddish” which means both “Jewish” and “Yiddish”. The very name of the Bund, “General Jewish Labour Union in Lithuania, Poland and Russia”, its steadfast opposition to dominant nationalism and defense of workers’ internationalism, its affirmation that their homeland is “here” — wherever they are, pre-Ziojnism, all that should be more than enough. Their nationalism, in the form of an Ashkenazi-Yiddish identification within the workers’ movement, is generally interpreted as ethnic self-preservation opposed to the time’s oppressive nationalisms (the permissibility of which varies according to one’s personal opinion.)

        We must raise our voice to oppose these despicable Zionist games.

      • Stephen Shenfield on October 28, 2019, 5:34 pm

        Not as early as the 18th century. Jewish nationalism in all its forms, the main ones being Zionism and Bundism, did not arise until late in the 19th century — a sort of afterthought to Gentile European nationalism.

        I’m not sure whether the Bundists regarded Yiddish culture as ‘authentic.’ It was simply the language in widest use at that time among East European Jews. In fact, the socialist intellectuals who founded the Bund were themselves Russian speakers. They decided to agitate in Yiddish because that was the language of the Jewish masses in the Pale of Settlement. My grandmother, although a Bundist, preferred to use Russian rather than Yiddish, having attended a Russian-language school.

      • Keith on October 29, 2019, 12:28 am

        STEPHEN SHENFIELD- “I’m not sure whether the Bundists regarded Yiddish culture as ‘authentic.’ ”

        The Bundists were, in essence, the first neo-Zionists. They fully agreed with the Zionists that “the Jews” were a distinct “people,” essentially different from the surrounding Gentile community. A precursor for the current “multi-cultural” Zionists.

      • snaidamast on October 29, 2019, 10:04 am

        My apologies regarding the time period I mentioned as the 18th century. I did in fact mean to say the 19th century.

        However, this was as it regards the rise of what we now know as Zionism.

        Prior to this, it was the much earlier rise of Talmudic Judaism that was designed to create an ethno-centric group, which would eventually evolve into the Zionist national offshoot..

        A number of books and documents I have read about the rise of Talmudic Judaism in regards to the ethnocentric nature of the Jewish people regard this creation as the basis for modern Judaism instead of the Torah, making the Jewish faith merely a cover for ethnocentric solidarity…

      • Mooser on October 29, 2019, 12:31 pm

        ” They fully agreed with the Zionists that “the Jews” were a distinct “people,” essentially different from the surrounding Gentile community.”

        And nobody talks about how for hundreds of years, Gentiles tearfully begged the Jews to live among them as equals with religious freedom and civil rights.
        But no, that wasn’t good enough for us Jews. Supremacy or nothing was our stance.

      • Mooser on October 29, 2019, 1:15 pm

        “the rise of Talmudic Judaism in regards to the ethnocentric nature of the Jewish people regard this creation as the basis for modern Judaism instead of the Torah, making the Jewish faith merely a cover for ethnocentric solidarity…”

        And Gentiles looked on, horror-struck, and begged Jews not to isolate themselves that way. “Ethnocentric solidarity” combined with overpowering numbers is a terrifying thing.

      • Keith on October 29, 2019, 5:26 pm

        MOOSER- “And nobody talks about how for hundreds of years, Gentiles tearfully begged the Jews to live among them as equals with religious freedom and civil rights.”

        I wasn’t aware that the somewhat literate Jewish townspeople were anxious to break bread with the illiterate, Goyish serfs/peasants out in the countryside. Learn that at summer camp, did you?

        “Everywhere, classical Judaism developed a hatred and contempt for agriculture as an occupation and peasants as a class, even more than for other Gentiles – a hatred of which I know no parallel in other societies.” (p53, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak)

      • jon s on October 30, 2019, 4:54 am

        snaidamast,
        Some questions:
        -Is Jewish” ethno-centricism” connected to the emergence of Talmudic Judaism? Does that mean that before the Talmud the Jews were not “ethno-centric”?
        Are Jews unique in their ethno-centricism, as compared with other ethnic groups?

      • Mooser on October 30, 2019, 12:28 pm

        ” Learn that at summer camp, did you?” “Keith”

        Oh fer Gawd’s sake. How many goddam times did you have to push “more comments” in my archive to find the story about the summer my parents sent me to the YMCA camp instead of the YMHA camp ?

      • Mooser on October 30, 2019, 4:53 pm

        “Everywhere, classical Judaism developed a hatred and contempt for agriculture as an occupation and peasants as a class”

        That, sir is an unmitigated and unconscionable bud libel. And I’ve got proof in the shelf-full of half-gallon bottles in front of me.

      • Keith on October 31, 2019, 12:13 am

        MOOSER- “That, sir is an unmitigated and unconscionable bud libel. And I’ve got proof in the shelf-full of half-gallon bottles in front of me.”

        I hope you realize that recycling jokes does not make you an environmentalist.

      • Mooser on October 31, 2019, 8:37 pm

        “I hope you realize that recycling jokes does not make you an environmentalist.”

        Well, a bottle in front of me is better than a frontal lobotomy.

  3. snaidamast on October 28, 2019, 11:30 am

    A little late for such a realization. And do we really need another “ism” to contend with.

    As long as Jewish elites continue to push support for Israel and Jewish Communities keep on forking over the monies to support the Israeli state, nothing will change.

    Another panel, another pronouncement… Big deal!

    • Stephen Shenfield on October 29, 2019, 9:00 am

      Keith: ‘The Bundists were, in essence, the first neo-Zionists. They fully agreed with the Zionists that “the Jews” were a distinct “people,” essentially different from the surrounding Gentile community.’

      Not only the Bundists and Zionists saw things that way. In Eastern Europe at that time, and especially in the areas that constituted the Pale of Settlement, virtually everyone did. Almost everyone was a tribalist. Peoplehood was conceived in ethnic not civic terms, and in ethnic markers — language, customs, and for the majority religion — the (Ashkenazi) Jews really were distinct from Poles, Russians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, etc. The idea of Jews as members of a civic nation who happened to have a different religion — Germans, Frenchmen etc. of the Mosaic faith — had arisen in Western Europe but had hardly yet penetrated these regions of Eastern Europe.

      The few Jews who were allowed to live in Moscow and St Petersburg were more Russified, so there the idea of Jews as Russians of a sort had greater credibility. This helps explain the lack of understanding between the social democrats, both Bolshevik and Menshevik, and the Bundists. The Jews with whom the social democrats in central Russia were most familiar were Russified, so it seemed ridiculous to them to treat Jews as a separate nation.

      All these things should be viewed in their historical and geographical context. Bundism did make a kind of sense in the old Pale. It makes no sense here and now: the conditions in which it flourished no longer exist. Still, it is surely understandable that people of Jewish origin who feel a fashionable though misplaced nostalgia for their ‘roots’ should seek inspiration in the Bund. Better that they should do that than fall prey to Zionism.

  4. echinococcus on October 28, 2019, 3:01 pm

    Without intending at all to belittle the splendid work done by the Bund in its time, the text above is a head-spinning bundle of stark internal contradictions due to the recent celebrants, in the same large bowl of soup

    First the “Jewish” nationalism. The presenters seem to be miles away from the Bund’s understanding of then, aptly summarized in its name:
    “The General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia”. This is very specifically an Ashkenazi ethnic identity, clearly expressed by the attachment to Yiddish language, their schools and their culture.

    This is in stark contrast to today’s Zionism-obnubilated person who says: “They were secular Jews”. They very clearly used the word “Jewish”, if we’re speaking English, in the meaning of Ashkenaze. Not today’s usage! Today’s usage is clearly that of a religion-independent nominal-religious tribality with no common culture or language. See next sentence:
    “My (Bundist) grandfather would say, “We will now not say Shehecheyanu” [a prayer]”. As for: “but they were dedicated to housing and building and cataloging and preserving the lives of every Jew around the world”,
    This is in total contrast to whatever the crystal-clear Bundist differentiation between Jiddisch and Jüdisch expresses.

    “So I felt I learned from the Bund, Jewish is as Jewish does, which is a love of that diversity…” well perhaps, but we are not talking of a diversity of language, culture etc. It all remains Ashkenazi.

    “The Bund’s history of fighting for workers’ rights, social equality and dignity, fostering Jewish autonomy and forming alliances, cruelly ended in the crucible of Bolshevik totalitarianism and Nazi predation of Poland.”

    Now this is the most nauseating part, trying to create a Nazi equivalence: even in this article, it is recognized that at the revolution, “The pro-Bolshevik Bundists were swallowed by the Communist Party, all its members being admitted as CP members.” All the Bund members…

    And then it comes back as:
    “a program that can be respected and replicated today, promoting a diaspora-oriented perspective as a nationally conscious group that is not nationalist, but rather Jewish and secular”

    Yiddisch and secular… how hard can it be to understand that? Tell me that the Bund is a Falasha organization, will you? Absurd.

    All this is obviously geared to smuggling in the following:

    “And incidentally, I would say that in 1948 after Israel was founded that those demands, the right of return for refugees and a state of equal rights for all, which are the basic demands of the BDS movement, were also the Bund’s demands for Israel…”

    Is there any proof of a unanimity, or at least majority opinion, among the Bund to accept “equal rights” for the invading Zionist bandits, equal to those of the owners of the country, who clearly expressed their opposition to such invasion? At least the Bund members that I had the honor to meet did not use that dishonest Zionist propaganda.

    So a Bund commemoration meeting that altogether ends with feelgood critique of Zionism and, constrasting with this, a reaffirmation of Zionist “rights” and Zionist “Jewish peoplehood”.

    • Mooser on October 30, 2019, 5:11 pm

      “So a Bund commemoration meeting that altogether ends with feelgood critique of Zionism and, constrasting with this, a reaffirmation of Zionist “rights” and Zionist “Jewish peoplehood”.” “Echin”

      Gotta love him, Mondo’s own Michelle Carter.

      • echinococcus on October 31, 2019, 12:03 am

        Would be nice if you explained what you are trying to say. Especially with your totally incomprehensible references — not everybody knows your circle of acquaintances.

  5. Nathan on October 28, 2019, 10:30 pm

    Every so often there is a mentioning of the Bund in the Mondoweiss. Obviously, the only reason for mentioning this chapter of Jewish activism is the fact that the Bund was anti-Zionist. However, it should be noted that the Bund – just like Zionism – defined the Jews as a nation, not a religious community. Today’s anti-Zionist world tries to present the case that “Jewish” is only about religion, but actually the Bundists understood that the Jews are a people, just like the Poles or the Russians. They opposed the founding of a Jewish state, but they certainly understood correctly the meaning of the terminology: a Jewish state is parallel to a Polish state or a Norwegian state. After the Holocaust in an 1948 Bundist conference, the Bund called for a binational (Jewish-Arab) state in Palestine. “Binational” means that there are two nations in Palestine, the Jews and the Arabs.

    In 1955, there was a third world Bund conference in Montreal. The conference affirmed the significance of Israel; and in subsequent Bund statements, the movement expressed its support for the security and well-being of Israel (even while expressing criticism). Such a point of view should be brought to the attention of the readers. Generally, the anti-Zionists became non-Zionists in the wake of the founding of Israel; i.e. they had opposed the founding of a Jewish state, but once it was founded they accepted the new reality and wished its inhabitants well.

    Finally, it is worthy of mention that the slogan of the Bund, as mentioned in the article, was “where we are is our home”. In Yiddish, it was in one word: “doykeit”. For millions of Jews today, “we are here” is Israel. The Bund has become a marginal phenomenon in today’s Jewish world, but if Mondoweiss feels that it’s worthy of mention in the here and now, let’s present the full picture. The ideology of the Bund defines the Jews as a national group, the reality of “we are here” surely includes the millions of Jews in Israel – and we wish them the very best.

    • echinococcus on October 29, 2019, 1:04 am

      “For millions of Jews today, “we are here” is Israel”
      Illegally and as a crime against humanity. In fact, as the “supreme international crime”.

      “The ideology of the Bund defines the Jews as a national group”
      Liar. It’s exclusively about the Yiddish-speaking Ostjuden, most of it not “Jewish” but atheist.

    • eljay on October 29, 2019, 7:46 am

      || Nathan: … Today’s anti-Zionist world tries to present the case that “Jewish” is only about religion … ||

      The people who choose to embrace the identity of Jewish may well view themselves as a tribe, a collective, an ethnicity, a people, a culture, a nation and even a civilization, but the identity of Jewish is strictly religion-based.

      || … the Bundists … opposed the founding of a Jewish state, but they certainly understood correctly the meaning of the terminology: a Jewish state is parallel to a Polish state or a Norwegian state. … ||

      The Bundists were as mistaken as the Zionists.

      A Polish or Norwegian state is the state of and for people in and of the geographic region comprising Poland or Norway.

      A religion-supremacist “Jewish State” is the state primarily of and for people of any geographic region who:
      – undergo a religious conversion to Judaism; or
      – are descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.

      There certainly is no parallel between the two.

    • RoHa on October 29, 2019, 10:22 pm

      A Jewish state not parallel to a Norwegian state.

      The Norwegians are Norwegian because they are born in, brought up in, and are citizens of the state established on the territory called Norway. It is the association with Norway (territory and state) that makes the people Norwegian. Norwegian Jews are Norwegians.

      The state of Norway is a state of all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

      A Jewish state is a state for a particular “ethnicity”. That “ethnicity” is not the result of association with a particular territory or of citizenship of a particular state.

      • Nathan on October 30, 2019, 9:36 pm

        RoHa – You seem to understand national identity as being defined by a particular state. It’s not so. There was a Norwegian identity before the founding of the Norwegian state. Actually, there are plenty of ethnic or national identities without statehood. Sometimes, a particular group of people (an ethnicity) establishes a state, and sometimes it doesn’t. So, the Norwegian people (ethnicity) succeeded in achieving statehood, whereas the Basque didn’t.

        Your presentation of national identity is based on the example of the USA. The American people are those who were born in the USA (or became citizens of the USA). However the model of the USA is not universal. The Basque are citizens of Spain, but they are not part of the Spanish people. The Frisians are Dutch citizens, but they’re not Dutch. The Jews of Poland before the Holocaust were citizens of Poland, but they were not Poles. They were Jews, a national minority group within the Polish state (in their own eyes, and in the eyes of the Poles as well).

        The Jewish state is, indeed, parallel to the Norwegian state. It is a state founded by a particular ethnic group. Perhaps, it’s difficult for an anti-Israel person to recognize and accept the identity of Jews as a national community deserving of statehood, but this recognition is nevertheless part of the international political view. The UN resolution 181 (the Partition Plan of 1947) proposed the founding of two states in Palestine: a Jewish state and an Arab state. “Jewish” and “Arab” are very obviously two ethnicities for which statehood was offered. Notice that “Jewish” is parallel to “Arab” (not “Moslem” or “Christian”).

      • annie on October 31, 2019, 11:44 am

        israel is “parallel” to norway? it’s probably not a coincidence you just happened to choose a country with the highest standards for human rights in the world.

        “Norway has ranked first on the UN Development Program’s Human Development Index for 12 of the last 15 years, and it consistently tops international comparisons in such areas as democracy, civil and political rights, and freedom of expression and the press.”

        https://www.thenation.com/article/after-i-lived-in-norway-america-felt-backward-heres-why/

        norway’s constitution guarantees political pluralism. there simply is no parallel to that in israel.

      • eljay on October 31, 2019, 12:01 pm

        || annie: israel is “parallel” to norway? it’s probably not a coincidence you just happened to choose a country with the highest standards for human rights in the world. … ||

        Zionists sure do love to play games.

        Regardless, the right to “self-determine” a state belongs to the people of a geographic region:
        – Norway for Norwegians;
        – (geographic) Palestine for (geographic) Palestinians;
        – Israel for Israelis.

        The identity of Jewish is religion-based, not geographical. There exists no right of people with a shared religion-based identity to establish a religion-supremacist state in any region and at the expense of that region’s indigenous population.

      • eljay on October 31, 2019, 12:16 pm

        P.S. – I know you know this and I know that even Nathan knows this but, well, Zionists sure do love to play games.

      • annie on October 31, 2019, 1:02 pm

        oh yeah. there was so much wrong with nathan’s last comment — where to start? but norway! i started laughing.

      • Mooser on October 31, 2019, 8:58 pm

        “there was so much wrong with nathan’s last comment”

        Oh, ‘Nathan’ may lose an argument, but his winning personality always shines through, and wins him friends.
        It’s hard to be humble when you’ve got Zionist omniscience working for you, and worse when dealing with those who don’t recognize it. But ‘Nathan’ tries, and it’s to his credit. And in this comment, he repeatedly stands in loco parentheses to help us understand.

      • RoHa on October 31, 2019, 9:59 pm

        “Your presentation of national identity is based on the example of the USA.”

        No, I’m basing my ideas about Norway on the history of Norway.

        By the very early middle ages, the southern half of the Scandanavian Peninsula was populated by people who all had pretty much the same culture (still do) and spoke pretty much the same language (still do) but who were divided by a mountain range. Sea ways were more important to them than roads. The strip on the Western side was called the North Way (Norvegr in Old Norse) because it was the sea way North.

        Sometimes the world makes sense.

        Various chieftans in the area spent a good deal of time bashing each other over the head with incredibly heavy swords, as was the custom of the time. Naturally, the people they bashed were those in easy reach, which mostly meant those in the same area. Eventually one of them succeeded in bashing the other locals hard enough for them to agree that he was the head head-basher, i.e., king.

        Tradition says that this was Harald hårfagre, called Haraldr inn hárfagri in Old Norse and Harald I Fairhair (beautiful hair) in English.

        He then declared that he was king of the North Way,  all the people in the place were North Wayans, and that henceforth their duty was to help him bash non-North Wayans on the head and loot their hair care products.

        (If you’ve been bashed on the head with an incredibly heavy sword, you probably don’t need your shampoo, conditioner, and volumizer any more.)

        (When he died (932?) his elder son, Eric Bloodaxe seized the throne, but was quickly deposed by Harald’s younger son Håkon the Good, which just goes to show that a ferocious name is no guarantee of success. And perhaps that Håkon wasn’t all that good.)

        That is how Norwegianness came into being. Being Norwegian meant being a native of a geographic area separated by mountains and sea from the neighbours, and united by a king into a state.

        Modern Norwegianness is still geographical, and still involves citizenship in a state.

        Norway is a state for all its citizens, not a state for an ethnic group.

        Quite different from Jewishness and a Jewish state.

        (And all this without a single pun on “Norse”!)

  6. James North on October 31, 2019, 1:02 pm

    Jack Jacobs is a moral giant.

  7. hophmi on November 3, 2019, 2:35 pm

    Ah yes, the “return to Egypt” Jews who, in the comfort of America, want to bring back the Bundism of Eastern European working class peasants.

    Eyeroll.

    I love how how Jacob Plitman complains from the rostrum of the fancy auditorium at the Center for Jewish History that he can’t find a place to “have this debate.”

    I’m going to write a book about the left called “Except for Everywhere, We Can’t Speak About This.”

  8. Mooser on November 4, 2019, 12:05 pm

    “Ah yes, the “return to Egypt” Jews who, in the comfort of America, …”

    That’s right, the “comfort of America” should only inspire Zionism!

    You know, that comforting feeling that the legal and civil protections afforded us in the US means we can get away with a lot of shit in the name of Zionism.

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