Adhering to the Bund in 2016

The signatories to the letter do not mention that not one single Bundist was ever elected to the Sejm, the Polish parliament during the inter-war years. The Zionists and the ultra-orthodox were far more successful. In 1939 the Bund depended on an electoral arrangement with the Polish Socialist party for its municipal election gains. Those Warsaw Jews who did vote for the Bund were slaughtered by the Nazis in the Holocaust; and Stalin ordered the execution of its leaders, Henryk Ehrlich and Victor Alter, who had sought refuge in the Soviet Union. After the war many surviving Bundists and others on the left followed Trotsky’s approach in the 1930s that there was now some validity in Jews leaving for Palestine to build socialism.

After 1945, it was the recognition that there had been no international workers’ uprising to save the Jews during the Holocaust that transformed Zionism from being a minority concern among Jews. The recent survey by City University about British Jewish attitudes towards Israel indicated that an overwhelming 93% believed that an identification with Israel forms some part of their identity today. The ideological and emotional attachment to the pre-war Bund blinds the signatories to the notion that anti-Zionism can occasionally tip over into antisemitic stereotyping and should therefore be condemned.

Guardian 13 May 2016

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