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The American-Jewish Romance with Communism, Unrequited as Ever, Won’t Fade Away

Oct. 25 2017

Citing the description of American Communism in the Jewish Women’s Archive Encyclopedia and a recent New York Times article on the same subject by the radical author Vivian Gornick, Ruth Wisse notes a “celebratory tone,” as if describing “champions of a noble cause.” This tone, she writes, is grotesquely wrong:

This is Soviet Communism we are talking about—that killed an estimated 30 million of its own citizens, including through a government-enforced famine in Ukraine, the details of which even people hardened by Holocaust literature have trouble reading. . . . This is the movement that struck a pact with Hitler precipitating the war against Poland, and built the Gulag. . . .

Regarding Jews and Judaism, Soviet Communism forbade the practice of religion and the study of Hebrew. The Jewish section of the Communist party took the lead in persecuting rabbis and teachers, killing some, sending others to certain death. The Soviets hailed the 1929 Arab massacres of Jews in Palestine as the start of the Arab Communist revolution and formulated the slogans of anti-Zionism that are the basis of anti-Semitism in America today. Soviet propaganda accused Jews of imperialism in the 1930s and (with the Arabs) of racism in the 1970s. . . .

The Soviets used the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to win American support during World War II and then executed its leadership in 1952. Might Gornick say that in these ways Communism prodded Jews into becoming the righteous people they always aspired to be? . . .

In no way does any of this imply that Jews are responsible for Communism, as some of its former European subjects try to claim. That false accusation should be exposed as strenuously as any blood libel or accusation of deicide. Communism did at least as much damage to Jews as to any other people, but in the name of that damage, we are also obliged to take seriously that many Jews supported one of the most murderous regimes in history and to see how and why and to what extent they went wrong.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Communism, History & Ideas, Soviet Jewry, Soviet Union

Being a Critic of Israel Means Never Having to Explain How It Should Defend Itself

April 23 2018

The ever-worsening situation of Jews in Europe, writes Bret Stephens, should serve as a reminder of the need for a Jewish state. Israel’s critics, he suggests, should reflect more deeply on that need:

Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews.

That’s a point that Israel’s restless critics could stand to learn. On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this—doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel’s borders—and has repeatedly used deadly force to counter it.

The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t.

It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t. If the armchair corporals want to persist in demands for withdrawals that for 25 years have led to more Palestinian violence, not less, the least they can do is be ferocious in defense of Israel’s inarguable sovereignty. Somehow they almost never are. . . .

[T]o the extent that the diaspora’s objections [to Israeli policies] are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless. They provide moral sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to win sympathy for its strategy of wanton aggression and reckless endangerment. And they foster the illusion that there’s some easy and morally stainless way by which Jews can exercise the responsibilities of political power.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza Strip, Israel & Zionism