On Modern Jewish Politics

On Modern Jewish Politics

On Modern Jewish Politics

On Modern Jewish Politics

Synopsis

This book is a concise guide to and analysis of the complexities of modern Jewish politics in the interwar European and American diaspora. "Jewish politics" refers to the different and opposing visions of the Jewish future as formulated by various Jewish political parties and organizations and their efforts to implement their programs and thereby solve the "Jewish question." Mendelsohn begins by attempting a typology of these Jewish political parties and organizations, dividing them into a number of schools or "camps." He then suggests a "geography" of Jewish politics by locating the core areas of the various camps. There follows an analysis of the competition among the various Jewish political camps for hegemony in the Jewish world--an analysis that pays particular attention to the situation in the United States and Poland, the two largest diasporas, in the 1920s and 1930s. The final chapters ask the following questions: what were the sources of appeal of the various Jewish political camps (such as the Jewish left and Jewish nationalism), to what extent did the various factions succeed in their efforts to implement their plans for the Jewish future, and how were Jewish politics similar to, or different from, the politics of other minority groups in Europe and America? Mendelsohn concludes with a discussion of the great changes that have occurred in the world of Jewish politics since World War II.

Excerpt

Having named the main varieties of modern Jewish politics, my next task is to give them a local habitation, that is, to make the connection between politics and geography. Jewish politics was international in character. How was it influenced by the very different surroundings in which it operated? Which environments, both general and Jewish, were most supportive of which sorts of Jewish politics? Where were the ideal environments, the core areas of the major Jewish political camps located? How did the character of a given Jewish political orientation differ from one country to another? Where, for example, is one most likely to find a strong Jewish integrationist movement? What was the core area of Jewish nationalism, of Orthodoxy, of the Jewish left? Why was Polish Zionism so different from American Zionism?

Ideal Environments

According to a famous Yiddish proverb, "As the Christians go, so go the Jews" ("Vy es kristlt zikh, azoy yidlt zikh"). Applying this excellent example of folk wisdom, one should expect that the ideal environment for modern Jewish nationalism would be a region in which nationalism in general was the dominant political force, assuming that this particular type of nationalism was so defined to exclude the Jews rather than to include them. I have in mind, for example, Poland of the interwar period, a country whose politics was dominated by the kind of nationalism that excluded Jews from "Polishdom," and not Hungary of the pre-World War I period, a time when mainstream Hungarian nationalism was prepared--albeit . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.