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Why Did Jews Support the Bolsheviks?

Oct. 26 2017

Before the 1917 Russian Revolution, writes Michael Stanislawski, the Bolshevik party was actually one of the least popular among Jews—garnering significantly less support than even other socialist parties. Although many of the leading Bolsheviks at the time were themselves Jewish, these were “Jews who viewed their Jewishness as an incidental artifact of their birth, with no meaning for them either religiously” or ethnically. But after the revolution, things changed rapidly:

In the simplest terms, as a civil war broke out [in 1919 between the new Communist regime and its enemies], the anti-Bolshevik forces soon became more and more dominated by the right wing and its blatantly and violently anti-Semitic supporters. Although early on there were some pogroms waged by Red Army troops, these were quickly and firmly condemned by the Bolshevik leaders (especially Leon Trotsky, who was, after all, the head of the Red Army). In sharpest contrast, the White Army [as the anti-Bolsheviks were known] conducted massive pogroms against the Jews. And the clash was not only between the Reds and the Whites but soon also between the Red Army and the various Ukrainian and Polish forces, who also carried out an enormous number of pogroms against the Jewish population. . . .

And the vast Jewish masses, whether previously supporters of the Zionists or the [Jewish socialist] Bund, the [ultra-Orthodox] Agudat Israel or the [liberal and ecumenical] Constitutional Democrats, had no hesitation in making a simple, life-defining decision: the White Army and its allies attacked, murdered, and destroyed Jewish lives and homes; the Red Army attacked the pogromshchiki, made anti-Semitism a crime against the state, outlawed pogroms, and even prosecuted anti-Semitism in its own ranks. . . .

Certainly, there were many Jews who, in their heart of hearts, still maintained their fealty to their old political parties, their old way of life, their Zionism, their Bundism, their liberalism, their religious Orthodoxy. Many would fight as best they could for these causes in the next two decades, largely underground. But as the new Soviet Union rose from the ashes of the Revolution, . . . the Jews made their peace, or more, with the new Communist state that committed itself against the forces of reaction and anti-Semitism. Their subsequent fate under Soviet socialism—and its ultimate descent into the lunacy of the Stalinist terror—was not foreseen.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Bolshevism, Communism, History & Ideas, Russian Jewry, Soviet Jewry

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen