How Yiddish Became the Language of Political Organizing for Russian Jews

As large numbers of Jews began leaving Russia for the U.S. in the late 1800s, they began to produce pamphlets, newspapers, and books about political organizing in their native Yiddish. Some, seeking to help their coreligionists back home, began to smuggle these works back into Russia, where the government strictly forbade them. As Julia Métraux points out, not all East European Jews spoke Yiddish, and Jewish revolutionaries living under the tsars tended to prefer Russian, but they soon discovered that

there were benefits in organizing in a language that non-Jewish people did not understand.

“Yiddish socialist literature in New York may be considered important in another respect: its sheer availability encouraged Russian Jewish revolutionaries to adopt Yiddish in the first place,” [the Jewish history professor Tony] Michels explains. The growing solidarity among Jewish socialists in Eastern Europe also led to the rise of Bundism, a non-Zionist Jewish [socialist] movement and political party.

New York Jews’ involvement in sending this socialist literature abroad could also be indicative of their later commitment to aiding with both Soviet reconstruction efforts and the resettlement of Russian Jews in the United States.

Read more at JStor Daily

More about: American Jewish History, Bund, Communism, Immigration, Russian Jewry, Yiddish

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria