7 Conclusions: Then and Now

During the more than fifty years since the beginning of World War II the Jewish world and Jewish politics have undergone a sea change. Two dramatic and unexpected events, one horrific, the other miraculous (at least in the eyes of many Jews) have much to do with this change. I refer, of course, to the Holocaust and to the establishment of the Jewish state. The Nazis and their local allies destroyed forever the Yiddish-speaking Jewish nation that had inhabited Poland, Romania, parts of Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic states. As a result several pieces fell out of the Jewish political puzzle. Those political movements based exclusively or largely on this nation were doomed. As I have already pointed out, Yiddish-oriented Diaspora nationalism, championed by the Bund, the Folkists, and the Zionists of Eastern Europe, was already a doctrine in decline before the war. It could not survive the war, and is today only a memory. The Bund itself--of all the major East European Jewish political parties the one most closely linked to doikeyt (hereness), to the Yiddish-speaking East European "masses,"--was shattered forever.

The disappearence of the Bund was part of a larger phenomenon of great consequence--the decline of the Jewish left in general. It is hard to believe in 1992 that Jewish political movements of the left once played so great a role in the Jewish world. Of course, Hitler destroyed not only the Bund but also the Zionist socialist movement of Poland and its neighboring countries that had dominated world Zionism in the 1930s--Poale Zion, the Pioneer, and the various left-wing Zionist youth movements like Ha-shomer ha-tsair. Beyond Hitler's domains upward social mobility and the end of mass immigration were burying Jewish socialism well before

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On Modern Jewish Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - Varieties 3
  • 2 - Geography 37
  • 3 - Dynamics 63
  • 5 - Success? 115
  • 6 - Comparisons 127
  • 7 - Conclusions: Then and Now 141
  • Notes 147
  • Index 161
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