The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, and the Realities of Jewish Bolsheviks

Jan. 14 2019

Occurring frequently in Nazi propaganda, the term Judeo-Bolshevism suggested a complete identity between Communism and the alleged Jewish world conspiracy that was a staple of anti-Semitic fantasy. In A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, Paul Hanebrink provides a history of this idea, whose roots lie deep in the 19th century, and which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews even before the founding of the Nazi party. The myth, however, grew out of two undeniable realities: the overrepresentation of Jews in the ranks of the Soviet Communist party and other revolutionary movements, and the horrors of Soviet Communism. In his review, Gary Saul Morson takes Hanebrink to task for glossing over these realities:

[S]o far as I know, none of the Jewish Communists was acting as a Jew. One reason this fact is so important is that the idea of Judeo-Bolshevism rested upon the lie propounded in the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion—the most widely circulated anti-Semitic tract in history—that world leaders are actually fronts for the hidden elders and knowingly act to ensure their domination of the world. Since Bolsheviks themselves proclaimed their aim was world revolution, all that was needed was to describe the Bolsheviks as working for the elders.

That is entirely false, and not only because there were no such elders. Bolshevik Jews—not just Leon Trotsky and the Comintern leader Grigory Zinoviev—did not consider themselves to be acting as Jews or for the Jews. The Hungarian Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi, one of the “little Stalins” ruling Eastern Europe after World War II, was, although Jewish, given to anti-Semitic remarks. . . . The Judeo-Bolshevik myth notwithstanding, it was precisely by repudiating their Jewishness that these Jews became Communists. . . .

Central to Hanebrink’s argument, [however], is his rejection of . . . any characterization of Soviet and Nazi horrors as comparable. . . .

And yet, notes Morson, some Jews themselves were among the first to acknowledge the similarities between the two evil regimes:

The Soviet Jewish novelist and journalist Vasily Grossman is usually considered the first person to describe the Holocaust, which he witnessed taking place in Nazi-occupied Soviet territory. With no illusions about Nazism, he, too, equated the two regimes in his famous novels Forever Flowing and Life and Fate. What particularly appalled him was the Soviet collectivization of agriculture, which took the lives of at least 10 million people, half of whom died in a deliberate campaign of forced starvation. . . . The first paragraph of The Harvest of Sorrow, Robert Conquest’s 400-page classic account of this “war in the countryside,” explains: “We may perhaps put this in perspective . . . by saying that in the actions here recorded, about twenty human lives were lost for, not every word, but every letter, in this book.”

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, Bolshevism, Communism, History & Ideas, Nazism, Soviet Union, Vasily Grossman

 

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria