It is a great tragedy that although Gilad Atzmon became revolted at what he saw in the Lebanon War of 1982, he accepted the basis premise of Zionism that it is indeed the sole representative of Jewish identity… But he also attacks those manifestations of past Jewish identity which don’t fit in with his schema. In particular the Bund, which as I pointed out last night and he accepted, represented 85% of the Jewish Council seats in Warsaw in 1938 are more detestable to Atzmon than Zionism.
Atzmon despicably attacks the Bund and that small remnant who weren’t wiped out by the Nazis who made their way to Israel in 1948. A film has been made about them, a very sad and tragic film. The Bund in Israel sought both to keep the memory of their fight in Poland alive and stay together to cherish their heritage. I doubt if there are many Palestinians who would resent or oppose these survivors of the holocaust settling in Palestine as it then was. Just as today Black Africans have formed a community in south Tel Aviv and been the victims of the most appalling pogroms and racist abuse. [see Xenophobia in Tel Aviv, ‘We must not let nationalism, threatened sense of identity turn us into old-time Europe’ Daniel Feldman]
The remnants of the Bund came as refugees not colonisers. The Zionists came as colonisers and used the Jewish refugees as a battering ram, actively campaigning against their admission to the USA and elsewhere in the world. Yet Atzmon attacks this tiny remnant who sought to preserve their socialism in the midst of a contradiction of being Jewish in a ‘Jewish’ state. In fact the Produce Eran Torbiner, a young late 40s Bundist is a supporter as he told me of the Boycott Within. Yet Atzmon seems to attack these of all people. Gilad Atzmon: The Bund- A Disturbing Jewish Political Exercise (must watch)
Atzmon cites Yaacov Belek, an elderly Bundist, that “The Bund was a unique Party. It wasn’t like any other party… it was an empire. A bund member was a different kind of person. … For years we grew bigger and bigger. Before the beginning of WWII it was the largest party in Poland. We possessed everything. We had the youth, future, SKIP, sport, so many schools, we were the new type, we were the new man’ This is an example of ‘Jewish Power’ The absurdity should be obvious to anyone. The Bund actively worked with the Polish Socialist Party. They led the Warsaw ghetto resistance. They campaigned against the Zionists and represented the Jewish oppressed which Atzmon terms a ‘Jews only’ party. Well yes, the oppressed do have the right to organise separately. Do we call the Black Panther movement in the USA ‘Blacks only’ as if it and not the KKK were the racists? Perhaps Atzmon could consult David Duke about all of this!
A very interesting post at Tony Greenstein’s blog on the Bundist past that “Zionists” have attempted to obliterate. I hope he won’t mind me using the images here, to entice you to read it.
Robert Service on Trotsky again: Service was on the weekend’s The Forum on the BBC World Service. The Service bit starts at 27 minutes. I don’t like Service’s analysis, although he is partly right. Service is right about Trotsky’s personality: cold, prim, glacial, disdainful, arrogant, self-centred. But Service basically says Trotsky and Stalin are “blood brothers”, that Trotsky was as ruthless as Stalin, who in turn was as much a “man of ideas” as Trotsky. This is surely not right, despite Trotsky’s faults. However, Service is right that Trotsky would have suppressed the peasants to achieve industrialisation, less brutally than Stalin but nonetheless harshly.
One interesting point Service makes is that other Russian exiles were making similar analyses of Soviet Russia, and have been forgotten. (He doesn’t name names, but Victor Serge, Ante Ciliga, Boris Souvarine, Voline, the exiled Mensheviks André Liebich writes about in From the Other Shore, and so on.) Service suggests that it was because Trotsky was a great writer and subsequently a great martyr that he became so important. I think this is true, but the third factor, both Trotsky’s strength and his flaw, his hubris perhaps, was that he was a great factionalist, with a sense of himself as a leader of a movement, something that was untrue of the other, more modest key figures of the anti-Stalinist left. Anyway, I still prefer Hitchens’ version. Lots more here.
Villains: Nat Hentoff.
George Orwell: His lessons for combating antisemitism today.
Histories: The Communist Party in the French resistance. New York elections: from honourable Jewish socialists to odious Marxoid cults. The end of the left’s Cuba romance? The state of Bund historiography [pdf]. The Labour Party and the Battle of Cable Street.
Interviews: Nick Cohen in Black Flag.
The Kaminski affair: Bob has a good round-up (scroll to “Strange alliances”).
If sharks were people: From Brecht’s Tales from the Calendar.
I’m running out of names for my posts in my occasional series which are simply links to other people’s posts I like. So, here goes.
Some relating to the European right and the politics of history: Euro-fascists in Manchester. Vukovar pride and solidarity. The Tories, Michal Kaminski And Jedwabne. Controversy around MEP Kaminski grows deeper. Excellent work on that dubious figure Kaminski.