Monday, March 12, 2012

397 Soviet blockage of Jews after WWII & creation of Israel. Solzhenitsyn ch. 24 & ch. 27

Soviet blockage of Jews after WWII & creation of Israel. Solzhenitsyn ch. 24 & ch. 27

(1) Russian school textbook says Jews were blocked after WWII, because of foreign loyalty
(2) Russian Jewish leader urges textbook pulled
(3) Soviet blockage of Jews after WWII & creation of Israel
(4) Chapter 24 of Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together: "Breaking Away from Bolshevism"
(5) Kevin MacDonald's comments on Chapter 24 of Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together
(6) Chapter 27 of Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together: "About the Assimilation. Author's afterword"

(1) Russian school textbook says Jews were blocked after WWII, because of foreign loyalty

From: IHR News <> Date: 25.09.2010 06:20 PM

Stalin-era repressions 'justified' claims new 'anti-Semitic' Russian textbook

Stalin-era repressions, including the Gulag camp system and the deportation of entire ethnic groups were justified according to a new history textbook published in Russia, which critics claim is anti-Semitic.

Published: 6:39PM BST 16 Sep 2010

"A History of Russia, 1917-2009," written by two Moscow State University academics, Alexander Barsenkov and Alexander Vdovin, attempts to justify forced collectivisation and the mass arrests and executions of the 1930s.

Supporters say the book is filled with patriotism and love of the Motherland.

But critics claim the textbook offers a pro-Stalinist and anti-Semitic view of Soviet and Russian history.

Describing the mass arrests and executions of the 1930s, the authors write that the authorities had a justified fear of enemies within the Soviet Union.

"All those millions of people offended by the policies of the Soviet authorities formed a potential for a 'fifth column' that was far from imaginary," they write.

The textbook also offers a rationalisation for Joseph Stalin's deportations of whole peoples, including the Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingushs and Kalmyks to Siberia and Central Asia.

"The reason that some were deported was their heightened readiness to collaborate with the occupiers and suspicions of this," the book claims. This theory has been widely rejected by Western historians and many Russian experts.

The textbook places strong emphasis on the number of Jews who held positions of power in Soviet culture and media.

It alleges that the Soviet authorities blocked Jews from occupying top posts after the Second World War because of "the growing pro-Western sympathies of citizens of Jewish origin, which increased the possibility of their being used in the interests of American strategy".

Anatoly Utkin, one of the textbook's supporters and reviewers, said it was popular with some of the country's "elite institutes" such as the academies of the Interior Ministry and the FSB security agency, successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

"This is a textbook in which patriotism serves as the guiding thread," Mr Utkin, history professor at Moscow State University, told The New Times, an opposition magazine.

"This textbook is filled with love of the motherland and patriotism and it is important that the continuity between the Soviet and post-Soviet epochs can be seen there."

But the Public Chamber, a state-run government oversight body, last week criticised the book in a report.

The book interpreted the country's history "in the spirit of radical nationalism" and distorted historical facts, it said.

Novaya Gazeta, the opposition newspaper, also attacked the book.

"The publication of this latest pro-Soviet, pro-Communist and pro-Stalin textbook is made possible because the crimes committed by Lenin and Stalin's party against humanity were never legally condemned," it wrote.

Moscow State University's history faculty said in a statement on Thursday that it would suspend the use of the book in classes.

President Dmitry Medvedev, 45, has made attempts to distance himself from the country's past, saying he had no desire to return to the Soviet Union.

By comparison, Mr Medvedev's 57-year old mentor, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, once famously described the collapse of the Soviet Union as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.

Russian authorities have approved history textbooks that sparked controversy by justifying Soviet leaders and praising the country's modern leadership.

In 2007, authorities approved a textbook that praised then-President Putin and justified the imprisonment of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was arrested in 2003 in an inquiry seen by critics as steered by the Kremlin.

(2) Russian Jewish leader urges textbook pulled
From: IHR News <> Date: 25.09.2010 06:20 PM

September 20, 2010

MOSCOW (JTA) -- A Russian Jewish leader urged the head of Moscow State University to take steps to drop a history textbook considered by many to be anti-Semitic.

Alexander Boroda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, sent a letter Monday to Viktor Sadovnichy urging the Moscow State leader to act upon a history textbook written by university professors Alexander Vdovin and Alexander Barsenkov.

Many experts have perceived the textbook, which deals with Russian history between 1917 and 2004, as extremist and anti-Semitics. It provides the percentage of Jews in former Soviet governments and similarly treats many historic events.

"For example, [the authors] say that the deportation of the Crimea Tatars was caused by the necessity of clearing the territory for the Jewish republic, which is nonsense from a historical point of view," sociologist Anatoly Golubovsky, a history graduate from Moscow State, told JTA.

"The stance of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia is the same as of the public and of the expert community who called the textbook an example of extremist literature," Boroda said in his letter, describing some of the authors' descriptions as "sounding Nazi."

Boroda also asked Sadovnichy to hold an internal investigation into the textbook and to put an end to any anti-Semitic activities at the university.

"We wouldn't like to go as far as to a court trial," Boroda said, "but the degree of heat of public discussion makes us think about this.

(3) Soviet blockage of Jews after WWII & creation of Israel
Peter Myers, October 20, 2010

This happened in the wake of the Baruch Plan for World Government (1946), drafted by David Lilienthal and Bernard Baruch (both Jewish):

Yuri Slezkine wrote in his book The Jewish Century (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2004):

{p. 304} And who (stage whisper) was building the Soviet atomic bomb? And how were they connected to their kinsmen building the American atomic bomb? And what about the spies who were, in their own way, trying to connect the two atomic bombs?

{p. 296} On September 3, 1948, the first Israeli ambassador to the USSR, Golda Meyerson (later Meir), arrived in Moscow. What followed was a series of improvised, spontaneous, and unsupervised political rallies - something the Soviet capital had not seen in more than twenty years. For Golda Meir, who had been born in the Russian Empire, visiting the Soviet Union was a kind of homecoming. On the very first Saturday after her arrival, she went to the Moscow synagogue and, having greeted the rabbi, broke into tears. The purpose of her visit, however, and of course the purpose of the new state she repre-

{p. 297} sented, was to remind the Jews of all countries that their true home was not their home. During the next month, every one of her public appearances was accompanied by a demonstration of Soviet Jewish identification with Israel. ...

All Stalinist purges were about creeping penetration by invisible aliens and here was a race that was both ubiquitous and camouflaged; an ethnic group that was so good at becoming invisible that it had become visible as an elite (perhaps the Soviet elite). Here was a nationality that did not possess its own territory (or rather, possessed one but refused to live there), a nationality that did not have its own language (or rather, had one but refused to speak it), a nationality that consisted almost entirely of intelligentsia (or rather,

{p. 298} refused to engage in proletarian pursuits); a nationality that used pseudonyms instead of names ...

{p. 313} The great alliance between the Jewish Revolution and Communism was coming to an end as a result of the new crusade against Jewish Communists. What Hitler could not accomplish, Stalin did, and as Stalin did, so did his representatives in other places. In the fall of 1952, a large show trial was staged in Czechoslovakia. Eleven

{p. 314} of the accused, including the general secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Rudolf Slansk, were identified as ethnic Jews and accused of being agents of international Zionism and American imperialism. Other Soviet dependencies had to follow suit, whether they wanted to or not. In Hungary, Romania, and Poland, a high proportion of the most sensitive positions in the Party apparatus, state administration, and especially the Agitprop, foreign service, and secret police were held by ethnic Jews, who had moved up the ranks because of their loyalty and now had to be squeezed out because of their nationality. All three regimes resembled the Soviet Union of the 1920s insofar as they combined the ruling core of the old Communist underground, which was heavily Jewish, with a large pool of upwardly mobile Jewish professionals, who were, on average, the most trustworthy among the educated and the most educated among the trustworthy. There were important differences, however. On the one hand, the experience of World War II in East-Central Europe had made Jews the only possible candidates for some sensitive positions; on the other, the creation of the new Stalinist regimes had coincided with Stalin's discovery of Jewish untrustworthiness.

{endquote} More at

On the Atomic Spies, see;
on "connecting the two atomic bombs", see the 1946 Baruch Plan for World Government:,
and the associated "One World Or None report of 1946", largely Jewish-written:}

(4) Chapter 24 of Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together: "Breaking Away from Bolshevism"

Adam's Blog

Chapter 24. Breaking Away From the Bolshevism

Posted on October 15, 2010 by 200yearstogether

At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe imagined itself to be on the threshold of worldwide enlightenment. No one could have predicted the strength with which nationalism would explode in that very century among all nations of the world. One hundred years later it seems nationalist feelings are not about to die soon (the very message that international socialists have been trying to drum into our heads for the whole century), but instead are gaining strength.

Yet, does not the multi-national nature of humanity provide variety and wealth? Erosion of nations surely would be an impoverishment for humanity, the entropy of the spirit. (And centuries of the histories of national cultures would then turn into irredeemably dead and useless antics.) The logic that it would be easier to manage such a uniform mankind fails by its petty reductionism.

However, the propaganda in the Soviet empire harped non-stop in an importunately-triumphant manner about the imminent withering away and amalgamation of nations, proclaiming that no "national question" exists in our country, and that there is certainly no "Jewish question."

Yet why should not the Jewish question exist — the question of the unprecedented three-thousand-year-old existence of the nation, scattered all over the Earth, yet spiritulally soldered together despite all notions of the state and territoriality, and at the same time influencing the entire world history in the most lively and powerful way? Why should there not be a "Jewish question" given that all national questions come up at one time or other, even the "Gagauz question" [a small Christian Turkic people, who live in the Balkans and Eastern Europe]?

Of course, no such silly doubt could ever arise, if the Jewish question were not the focus of many different political games.

The same was true for Russia too. In pre-revolutionary Russian society, as we saw, it was the omission of the Jewish question that was considered "anti-Semitic." In fact, in the mind of the Russian public the Jewish question — understood as the question of civil rights or civil equality — developed into perhaps the central question of the whole Russian public life of that period, and certainly into the central node of the conscience of every individual, its acid test.

With the growth of European socialism, all national issues were increasingly recognized as merely regrettable obstacles to that great doctrine; all the more was the Jewish question (directly attributed to capitalism by Marx) considered a bloated hindrance. Mommsen wrote that in the circles of "Western-Russian socialist Jewry," as he put it, even the slightest attempt to discuss the Jewish question was branded as "reactionary" and "anti-Semitic" (this was even before the Bund).

Such was the iron standard of socialism inherited by the USSR. From 1918 the communists forbade (under threat of imprisonment or death) any separate treatment or consideration of the Jewish question (except sympathy for their suffering under the Tsars and positive attitudes for their active role in communism). The intellectual class voluntarily and willingly adhered to the new canon while others were required to follow it.

This cast of thought persisted even through the Soviet-German war as if, even then, there was not any particular Jewish question. And even up to the demise of the USSR under Gorbachev, the authorities used to repeat hard-headedly: no, there is no Jewish question, no, no, no! (It was replaced by the "Zionist question.")

Yet already by the end of the World War II, when the extent of the destruction of the Jews under Hitler had dawned on the Soviet Jews, and then through Stalin's "anti-cosmopolitan" campaign of the late 1940s, the Soviet intelligentsia realized that the Jewish question in the USSR does exist! And the pre-revolutionary understanding — that it is central to Russian society and to the conscience of every individual and that it is the "true measure of humanity"1 — was also restored.

In the West it was only the leaders of Zionism who confidently talked from the late 19th century about the historical uniqueness and everlasting relevance of the Jewish question (and some of them at the same time maintained robust links with diehard European socialism). And then the emergence of the state of Israel and the consequent storms around it added to the confusion of naive socialist minds of Europeans.

Here I offer two small but at the time quite stirring and typical examples. In one episode of so-called "the dialogue between the East and the West" show (a clever Cold-War-period programme, where Western debaters were opposed by Eastern-European officials or novices who played off official nonsense for their own sincere convictions) in the beginning of 1967, a Slovak writer, Ladislav Mnacko, properly representing the socialist East, wittily noted that he never in his life had any conflict with the Communist authorities, except one case when his driver's license was suspended for a traffic violation. His French opponent angrily said that at least in one other case, surely Mnacko should be in the opposition: when the uprising in neighboring Hungary was drowned in blood. But no, the suppression of Hungarian Uprising neither violated the peace of Mnacko's mind, nor did it force him to say anything sharp or impudent. Then, a few months passed after the "dialogue" and the Six-Day War broke out. At that point the Czechoslovak Government of Novotny, all loyal Communists, accused Israel of aggression and severed diplomatic relations with it. And what happened next? Mnacko — a Slovak married to a Jew — who had calmly disregarded the suppression of Hungary before, now was so outraged and agitated that he left his homeland and as a protest went to live in Israel.

The second example comes from the same year. A famous French socialist, Daniel Meyer, at the moment of the Six-Day War had written in Le Monde, that henceforth he is: 1) ashamed to be a socialist — because of the fact that the Soviet Union calls itself a socialist country (well, when the Soviet Union was exterminating not only its own people but also other socialists — he was not ashamed); 2) ashamed of being a French (obviously due to the wrong political position of de Gaulle); and, 3) ashamed to be a human (wasn't that too much?), and ashamed of all except being a Jew.2

We are ready to accept both Mnacko's outrage and Meyer's anger, yet we would like to point out at the extreme intensity of their feelings — given the long history of their obsequious condoning of communism. Surely, the intensity of their feelings is also an aspect of the Jewish question in the 20th century.

So in what way "did the Jewish question not exist"?

If one listened to American radio broadcasts aimed at the Soviet Union from 1950 to the 1980s, one might conclude that there was no other issue in the Soviet Union as important as the Jewish question. (At the same time in the United States, where the Jews "can be described as … the most privileged minority" and where they "gained an unprecedented status, the majority of [American Jews] still claimed that hatred and discrimination by their Christian compatriots was a grim fact of the modern life"3; yet because it would sound incredible if stated aloud, then the Jewish question does not exist, and to notice it and talk about it is unnecessary and improper.)

We have to get used to talking about Jewish question not in a hush and fearfully, but clearly, articulately and firmly. We should do so not overflowing with passion, but sympathetically aware of both the unusual and difficult Jewish world history and centuries of our Russian history that are also full of significant suffering. Then the mutual prejudices, sometimes very intense, would disappear and calm reason would reign.

Working on this book, I can't help but notice that the Jewish question has been omnipresent in world history and it never was a national question in the narrow sense like all other national questions, but was always — maybe because of the nature of Judaism? — interwoven into something much bigger.

When in the late 1960s I mused about the fate of the communist regime and felt that yes, it is doomed, my impression was strongly supported by the observation that so many Jews had already abandoned it.

There was a period when they persistently and in unison supported the Soviet regime, and at that time the future definitely belonged to it. Yet now the Jews started to defect from it, first the thinking individuals and later the Jewish masses. Was this not a sure sign that the years of the Soviet rule are numbered? Yes, it was.

So when exactly did it happen that the Jews, once such a reliable backbone of the regime, turned into almost its greatest adversary?

Can we say that the Jews always struggled for freedom? No, for too many of them were the most zealous communists. Yet now they turned their backs on it. And without them, the ageing Bolshevist fanaticism had not only lost some of its fervor, it actually ceased to be fanatical at all, rather it became lazy in the Russian way.

After the Soviet-German War, the Jews became disappointed by Communist power: it turned out that they were worse off than before. We saw the main stages of this split. Initially, the support of the newborn state of Israel by the USSR had inspired the Soviet Jews. Then came the persecution of the "cosmopolitans" and the mainly Jewish intelligentsia (not the philistine masses yet) began to worry: communism pushes the Jews aside? oppresses them? The terrible threat of massacre by Stalin overwhelmed them as well — but it was short-lived and miraculously disappeared very soon. During the "interregnum," [following Stalin's death] and then under Khrushchev, Jewish hopes were replaced by dissatisfaction and the promised stable improvement failed to materialize.

And then the Six-Day War broke out with truly biblical force, rocking both Soviet and world Jewry, and the Jewish national consciousness began to grow like an avalanche. After the Six-Day War, "much was changed … the action acquired momentum. Letters and petitions began to flood Soviet and international organizations. National life was revived: during the holidays it became difficult to get into a synagogue, underground societies sprang up to study Jewish history, culture and Hebrew."4

And then there was that rising campaign against "Zionism," already linked to "imperialism," and so the resentment grew among the Jews toward that increasingly alien and abominable and dull Bolshevism — where did such a monster come from?

Indeed, for many educated Jews the departure from communism was painful as it is always difficult to part with an ideal — after all, was not it a "great, and perhaps inevitable, planetary experiment initiated in Russia in 1917; an experiment, based on ancient attractive and obviously high ideas, not all of which were faulty and many still retain their beneficial effect to this day…. Marxism requires educated minds."5

Many Jewish political writers strongly favored the term "Stalinism" — a convenient form to justify the earlier Soviet regime. It is difficult to part with the old familiar and sweet things, if it is really possible at all.

There have been attempts to increase the influence of intellectuals on the ruling elite. Such was the Letter to the XXIII Congress (of the Communist Party) by G. Pomerants (1966). The letter asked the Communist Party to trust the "scientific and creative intelligentsia," that "desires not anarchy but the rule of law … that wants not to destroy the existing system but to make it more flexible, more rational, more humane" and proposed to establish an advisory think tank, which would generally consult the executive leadership of the country.6
The offer remained unanswered.

And many souls long ached for such a wasted opportunity with such a "glorious" past.

But there was no longer any choice . And so the Soviet Jews split away from communism. And now, while deserting it, they turned against it. And that was such a perfect opportunity — they could themselves, with expurgatory repentance, acknowledge their formerly active and cruel role in the triumph of communism in Russia.

Yet almost none of them did (I discuss the few exceptions below). The above-mentioned collection of essays, Russia and the Jews, so heartfelt, so much needed and so timely when published in 1924 was fiercely denounced by Jewry. And even today, according to the opinion of the erudite scholar, Shimon Markish: "these days, nobody dares to defend those hook-nosed and burry commissars because of fear of being branded pro-Soviet, a Chekist, a God-knows-what else…. Yet let me say in no uncertain terms: the behavior of those Jewish youths who joined the Reds is a thousand times more understandable than the reasons of the authors of that collection of works."7

Still, some Jewish authors began to recognize certain things of the past as they really were, though in the most cautious terms: "It was the end of the role of the 'Russian-Jewish intelligentsia' that developed in the prewar and early postwar years and that was — to some degree sincerely — a bearer of Marxist ideology and that professed, however timidly and implicitly and contrary to actual practice, the ideals of liberalism, internationalism and humanism."8 A bearer of Marxist ideology? — Yes, of course. The ideals of internationalism? — Sure. Yet liberalism and humanism? — True, but only after Stalin's death, while coming to senses.

However, very different things can be inferred from the writings of the majority of Jewish publicists in the late Soviet Union. Looking back to the very year of 1917, they find that under communism there was nothing but Jewish suffering! "Among the many nationalities of the Soviet Union, the Jews have always been stigmatized as the least 'reliable' element."9

What incredibly short memory one should have to state such things in 1983? Always! And what about the 1920s? And the 1930s? To assert that they were then considered the least reliable?! Is it really possible to forget everything so completely?

"If … one takes a bird's-eye view of the entire history of the Soviet era, then the latter appears as one gradual process of destruction of the Jews." Note — the entire history! We investigated this in the previous chapters and saw that even without taking into account Jewish over-representation in the top Soviet circles, there had been a period of well-being for many Jews with mass migration to cities, open access to higher education and the blossoming of Jewish culture. The author proceeds with a reservation: "Although there were … certain 'fluctuations', the overall trend continued … Soviet power, destroying all nationalities, generally dealt with the Jews in the most brutal way."10

Another author considers a disaster even the early period when Lenin and the Communist Party called upon the Jews to help with state governance, and the call was heard, and the great masses of Jews from the shtetls of the hated Pale moved into the capital and the big cities, closer to the avant-garde [of the Revolution]"; he states that the "… formation of the Bolshevik regime that had turned the greater part of Jews into 'déclassé', impoverished and exiled them and destroyed their families" was a catastrophe for the "majority of the Jewish population." (Well, that depends on one'spoint of view. And the author himself later notes: in the 1920s and 1930s, the "children of déclassé Jewish petty bourgeois were able to graduate from … the technical institutes and metropolitan universities and to become 'commanders' of the 'great developments.'") Then his reasoning becomes vague: "in the beginning of the century the main feature of Jewish activity was … a fascination … with the idea of building a new fair society"– yet the army of revolution "consisted of plain rabble — all those 'who were nothing,' [a quote from The Internationale]." Then, "after the consolidation of the regime" that rabble "decided to implement their motto and to 'become all' [also a quote from The Internationale], and finished off their own leaders…. And so the kingdom of rabble — unlimited totalitarianism — was established." (And, in this context, the Jews had nothing to do with it, except that they were among the victimized leaders.) And the purge continued "for four decades" until the "mid-1950s"; then the last "bitter pill … according to the scenario of disappointments" was prescribd to the remaining "'charmed' Jews."11 Again we see the same angle: the entire Soviet history was one of unending oppression and exclusion of the Jews.

Yet now they wail in protest in unison: "We did not elect this regime!"

Or even "it is not possible to cultivate a loyal Soviet elite among them [the Jews]."12
Oh my God, was not this method working flawlessly for 30 years, and only later coming undone? So where did all those glorious and famous names — whom we've seen in such numbers — came from?

And why were their eyes kept so tightly shut that they couldn't see the essence of Soviet rule for thirty to forty years? How is that that their eyes were opened only now? And what opened them?

Well, it was mostly because of the fact that now that power had suddenly turned around and began pushing the Jews not only out of its ruling and administrative circles, but out of cultural and scientific establishements also. "The disappointment was so fresh and sore, that we did not have the strength, nor the courage to tell even our children about it. And what about the children? … For the great majority of them the main motivation was the same — graduate school, career, and so on."13
Yet soon they would have to examine their situation more closely.

In the 1970s we see examples of rather amazing agreement of opinions, unthinkable for the past half a century.

For instance, Shulgin wrote in 1929: "We must acknowledge our past. The flat denial … claiming that the Jews are to blame for nothing — neither for the Russian Revolution, nor for the consolidation of Bolshevism, nor for the horrors of the communism — is the worst way possible…. It would be a great step forward if this groundless tendency to blame all the troubles of Russia on the Jews could be somewhat differentiated. It would be already great if any 'contrasts' could be found."14

Fortunately, such contrasts, and even more — comprehension, and even remorse — were voiced by some Jews. And, combined with the honest mind and rich life experience, they were quite clear. And this brings hope.

Here's Dan Levin, an American intellectual who immigrated to Israel: "It is no accident, that none of the American writers who attempted to describe and explain what happened to Soviet Jewry, has touched this important issue — the [Jewish] responsibility for the communism…. In Russia, the people's anti-Semitism is largely due to the fact that the Russians perceive the Jews as the cause of all the evil of the revolution. Yet American writers — Jews and ex-Communists … do not want to resurrect the ghosts of the past. However, oblivion is a terrible thing."15

Simultaneously, another Jewish writer, an émigré from the Soviet Union, published: the experience of the Russian (Soviet) Jewry, in contrast to that of the European Jewry, whose historical background "is the experience of a collision with the forces of outer evil … requires a look not from inside out but rather of introspection and … inner self-examination." "In this reality we saw only one Jewish spirituality — that of the Commissar — and its name was Marxism." Or he writes about "our young Zionists who demonstrate so much contempt toward Russia, her rudeness and savagery, contrasting all this with [the worthiness of] the ancient Jewish nation." "I saw pretty clearly, that those who today sing hosanna to Jewry, glorifying it in its entiriety (without the slightest sense of guilt or the slightest potential to look inside), yesterday were saying: 'I wouldn't be against the Soviet regime, if it was not anti-Semitic,' and two days ago they beat their breasts in ecstasy: 'Long live the great brotherhood of nations! Eternal Glory to the Father and Friend, the genius Comrade Stalin!'"16

But today, when it is clear how many Jews were in the iron Bolshevik leadership, and how many more took part in the ideological guidance of a great country to the wrong track — should the question not arise [among modern Jews] as to some sense of responsibility for the actions of those [Jews]? It should be asked in general: shouldn't there be a kind of moral responsibility — not a joint liability, yet the responsibility to remember and to acknowledge? For example, modern Germans accept liability to Jews directly, both morally and materially, as perpetrators are liable to the victims: for many years they have paid compensation to Israel and personal compensation to surviving victims.

So what about Jews? When Mikhail Kheifets, whom I repeatedly cite in this work, after having been through labor camps, expressed the grandeur of his character by repenting on behalf of his people for the evil committed by the Jews in the Soviet Union in the name of communism — he was bitterly ridiculed.

The whole educated society, the cultured circle, had genuinely failed to notice any Russian grievances in the 1920s and 1930s; they didn't even assume that such could exist — yet they instantly recognized the Jewish grievances as soon as those emerged. Take, for example, Victor Perelman, who after emigrating published an anti-Soviet Jewish journal Epoch and We and who served the regime in the filthiest place, in Chakovsky's Literaturnaya Gazeta — until the Jewish question had entered his life. Then he opted out….

At a higher level, they generalized it as "the crash of … illusions about the integration [of Jewry] into the Russian social movements, about making any change in Russia."17

Thus, as soon as the Jews recognized their explicit antagonism to the Soviet regime, they turned into its intellectual opposition — in accord to their social role. Of course, it was not them who rioted in Novocherkassk, or created unrest in Krasnodar, Alexandrov, Murom, or Kostroma. Yet the filmmaker Mikhail Romm plucked up his heart and, during a public speech, unambiguously denounced the "anti-cosmopolitan" campaign — and that became one of the first Samizdat documents (and Romm himself, who in so timely a manner rid himself of his ideological impediments, became a kind of spiritual leader for the Soviet Jewry, despite his films Lenin in October (1937), Lenin in 1918 (1939), and despite being a fivefold winner of the Stalin Prize). And after that the Jews had become reliable supporters and intrepid members of the "democratic" and "dissident" movements.

Looking back from Israel at the din of Moscow, another witness reflected: "A large part of Russian democrats (if not the majority) are of Jewish origin…. Yet they do not identify [themselves] as Jews and do not realize that their audience is also mostly Jewish.""18

And so the Jews had once again become the Russian revolutionaries, shouldering the social duty of the Russian intelligentsia, which the Jewish Bolsheviks so zealously helped to exterminate during the first decade after the revolution; they had become the true and genuine nucleus of the new public opposition. And so yet again no progressive movement was possible without Jews.

Who had halted the torrent of false political (and often semi-closed) court trials? Alexander Ginzburg, and then Pavel Litvinov and Larisa Bogoraz did. I would not exaggerate if I claim that their appeal "To world public opinion" in January 1968, delivered not through unreliable Samizdat, but handed fearlessly to the West in front of Cheka cameras, had been a milestone of Soviet ideological history. Who were those seven brave souls who dragged their leaden feet to Lobnoye Mesto [a stone platform in Red Square] on Aug. 25, 1968? They did it not for the greater success of their protest, but to wash the name of Russia from the Czechoslovak disgrace by their sacrifice. Four out of the seven were Jews. (Remember, that the percentage of Jews in the population of the country then was less than 1%) We should also remember Semyon Gluzman, who sacrificed his freedom in the struggle against the "nuthouses" [dissidents were sometimes incarcerated in psychiatric clinics]. Many Jewish intellectuals from Moscow were among the first punished by the Soviet regime.

Yet very few dissidents ever regretted the past of their Jewish fathers. P. Litvinov never mentioned his grandfather's role in Soviet propaganda. Neither would we hear from V. Belotserkovsky how many innocents were slaughtered by his Mauser-toting father. Communist Raisa Lert, who became a dissident late in life, was proud of her membership in that party even after The Gulag Archipelago; the party "she had joined in good faith and enthusiastically" in her youth; the party to which she had "wholly devoted herself" and from which she herself had suffered, yet nowadays it is "not the same" party anymore.19 Apparenty she did not realize how appealing the early Soviet terror was for her.

After the events of 1968, Sakharov joined the dissident movement without a backward glance. Among his new dissident preoccupations were many individual cases; in particular, personal cases of Jewish refuseniks [those, overwhelming Jewish, dissidents who requested, but were refused the right to emigrate from the Soviet Union]. Yet when he tried to expand the business (as he had innocently confided to me, not realizing all the glaring significance of what he said), Gelfand, a member of the Academy of Science, told him that "we are tired of helping these people to resolve their problems," while another member, Zeldovich, said: "I'm not going to sign any petition on behalf of victims of any injustice — I want to retain the ability to protect those who suffer for their nationality." Which means — to protect the Jews only.

There was also a purely Jewish dissident movement, which was concerned only with the oppression of the Jews and Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union (more about it — later).

A trasformation in public consciousness often pushes forward outstanding individuals as representatives, symbols and spokesmen of the age. So in the 1960s Alexander Galich became such a typical and accurate representative of the processes and attitudes in the Soviet intellectual circles. ("'Galich' is a pen name, explains N. Rubinstein. It is made of syllables of his real name — Ginsburg Alexander Arkadievich. Choosing a pen name is a serious thing."20 Actually, I assume that the author was aware that, apart from being "just a combination of syllables," "Galich" is also the name of the ancient Russian city from the very heart of Slavic history.) Galich enjoyed the general support of Soviet intelligentsia; tape recordings of his guitar performances were widely disseminated; and they have almost become the symbol of the social revival of the 1960s expressing it powerfully and vehemently. The opinion of the cultural circle was unanimous: "the most popular people's poet," the "bard of modern Russia."

Galich was 22 when the Soviet-German War broke out. He says that he was exempt from military service because of poor health; he then moved to Grozny, where he "unexpectedly easily became the head of the literature section of the local Drama Theatre"; he also "organized a theater of political satire"; then he evacuated through Krasnovodsk to Chirchik near Tashkent; in 1942, he moved from there to Moscow with a front-line theatrical company under formation and spent the rest of the war with that company.

He recalled how he worked on hospital trains, composing and performing couplets for wounded soldiers; how they were drinking spirits with a trainmaster…. "All of us, each in his own way, worked for the great common cause: we were defending our Motherland."21 After the war he became a well-known Soviet scriptwriter (he worked on many movies) and a playwright (ten of his plays were staged by "many theaters in the Soviet Union and abroad" [216] [references in square brackets refer to the page number in the source 21]. All that was in 1940s and 1950s, in the age of general spiritual stagnation — well, he could not step out of the line, could he? He even made a movie about Chekists, and was awarded for his work.

Yet in the early 1960s, Galich abruptly changed his life. He found courage to forsake his successful and well-off life and "walk into the square." [98] It was after that that he began performing guitar-accompanied songs to people gathering in private Moscow apartments. He gave up open publishing, though it was, of course, not easy: "[it was great] to read a name on the cover, not just someone else's, but mine!" [216]

Surely, his anti-regime songs, keen, acidic, and and morally demanding, were of benefit to the society, further destabilizing public attitudes.

In his songs he mainly addressed Stalin's later years and beyond; he usually did not deplore the radiant past of the age of Lenin (except one instance: "The carts with bloody cargo / squeak by Nikitsky Gate" [224]). At his best, he calls the society to moral cleansing, to resistance ("Gold-digger's waltz" [26], "I choose liberty" [226], "Ballad of the clean hands" [181], "Our fingers blotted from the questionnaires" [90], "Every day silent trumpets glorify thoughtful vacuity" [92]). Sometimes he sang the hard truth about the past ("In vain had our infantry perished in 1943, to no avail" [21]), sometimes — "Red myths," singing about poor persecuted communists ("There was a time — almost a third of the inmates came from the Central Committee, / There was a time when for the red color / they added ten years [to the sentence]!"[69]). Once he touched dekulakization ("Disenfranchised ones were summoned in first" [115]). Yet his main blow was against the current establishment ("There are fences in the country; behind fences live the leaders" [13]). He was justly harsh there; however, he oversimplified the charge by attacking their privileged way of life only: here they eat, drink, rejoice [151-152]. The songs were embittering, but in a narrow-minded way, almost like the primitive "Red proletarian" propaganda of the past. Yet when he was switching his focus from the leaders to "the people", his characters were almost entirely boobies, fastidious men, rabble and rascals — a very limited selection.

He had found a precise point of perspective for himself, perfectly in accord with the spirit of the time: he impersonalized himself with all those people who were suffering, persecuted and killed ("I was a GI and as a GI I'll die" [248], "We, GIs, are dying in battle"). Yet with his many songs narrated from the first person of a former camp inmate, he made a strong impression that he was an inmate himself ("And that other inmate was me myself" [87]; "I froze like a horseshoe in a sleigh trail / Into ice that I picked with a hammer pick / After all, wasn't it me who spent twenty years / In those camps" [24]; "as the numbers [personal inmate number tattooed on the arm] / we died, we died"; "from the camp we were sent right to the front!"[69]). Many believed that he was a former camp inmate and "they have tried to find from Galich when and where he had been in camps."22

So how did he address his past, his longstanding participation in the stupefying official Soviet lies? That's what had struck me the most: singing with such accusatory pathos, he had never expressed a single word of his personal remorse, not a word of personal repentance, nowhere! Didn't he realize that when he sang: "Oh Party's Iliad! What a giftwrapped groveling!" [216], he sang about himself? And when he crooned: "If you sell the unction" [40], as though referring to somebody else, did it occur to him that he himself was "selling unction" for half of his life. Why on earth would he not renounce his pro-official plays and films? No! "We did not sing glory to executioners!" [119] Yet, as the matter of fact, they did. Perhaps he did realize it or he gradually came to the realization, because later, no longer in Russia, he said: "I was a well-off screenwriter and playwright and a well-off Soviet flunky. And I have realized that I could no longer go on like that. Finally, I have to speak loudly, speak the truth …" [639].

But then, in the sixties, he intrepidly turned the pathos of the civil rage, for instance, to the refutation of the Gospel commandments ("do not judge, lest ye be judged"): "No, I have contempt for the very essence / Of this formula of existence!" And then, relying on the sung miseries, he confidently tried on a prosecutor's robe: "I was not elected. But I am the judge!" [100] And so he grew so confident, that in the lengthy Poem about Stalin (The Legend of Christmas), where he in bad taste imagined Stalin as Christ, and presented the key formula of his agnostic mindset — his really famous, the clichéd -quotes, and so harmful lines: "Don't be afraid of fire and hell, / And fear only him / Who says: 'I know the right way!'" [325].

But Christ did teach us the right way…. What we see here in Galich's words is just boundless intellectual anarchism that muzzles any clear idea, any resolute offer. Well, we can always run as a thoughtless (but pluralistic) herd, and probably we'll get somewhere.

Yet the most heartrending and ubiquitous keynote in his lyrics was the sense of Jewish identity and Jewish pain ("Our train leaves for Auschwitz today and daily"). Other good examples include the poems By the rivers of Babylon and Kadish. (Or take this: "My six-pointed star, burn it on my sleeve and on my chest." Similar lyrical and passionate tones can be found in the The memory of Odessa ("I wanted to unite Mandelstam and Chagall). "Your kinsman and your cast-off / Your last singer of the Exodus" — as he addressed the departing Jews.)

The Jewish memory imbued him so deeply that even in his non-Jewish lyrics he casually added expressions such as: "Not a hook-nosed"; "not a Tatar, not a Yid" [115, 117]"; "you are still not in Israel, dodderer?" [294]; and even Arina Rodionovna [Pushkin's nanny, immortalized by the poet in his works] lulls him in Yiddish [101]. Yet he doesn't mention a single prosperous or non-oppressed Jew, a well-off Jew on a good position, for instance, in a research institute, editorial board, or in commerce — such characters didn't even make a passing appearance in his poems. A Jew is always either humiliated, or suffering, or imprisoned and dying in a camp. Take his famous lines: "You are not to be chamberlains, the Jews … / Neither the Synod, nor the Senate is for you / You belong in Solovki and Butyrki" [the latter two being political prisons] [40].

What a short memory they have — not only Galich, but his whole audience who were sincerely, heartily taking in these sentimental lines! What about those twenty years, when Soviet Jewry was not nearly in the Solovki, when so many of them did parade as chamberlains and in the Senate!?

They have forgotten it. They have sincerely and completely forgotten it. Indeed, it is so difficult to remember bad things about yourself.

And inasmuch as among the successful people milking the regime there were supposedly no Jews left, but only Russians, Galich's satire, unconsciously or consciously, hit the Russians, all those Klim Petroviches and Paramonovs; all that social anger invoked by his songs targeted them, through the stressed "russopyaty" [derogatory term for Russians] images and details, presenting them as informers, prison guards, profligates, fools or drunks. Sometimes it was more like a caricature, sometimes more of a contemptuous pity (which we often indeed deserve, unfortunately): "Greasy long hair hanging down, / The guest started "Yermak" [a song about the cossack leader and Russian folk hero] … he cackles like a cock / Enough to make a preacher swear / And he wants to chat / About the salvation of Russia" [117-118]. Thus he pictured the Russians as always drunk, not distinguishing kerosene from vodka, not interested in anything except drinking, idle, or simply lost, or foolish individuals.Yet he was considered a folk poet…. And he didn't image a single Russian hero-soldier, workman, or intellectual, not even a single decent camp inmate (he assigned the role of the main camp inmate to himself), because, you know, all those "prison-guard seed" [118] camp bosses are Russians. And here he wrote about Russia directly: "Every liar is a Messiah! / <…> And just dare you to ask — / Brothers, had there even been / Any Rus in Russia?" — "It is abrim with filth." — And then, desperately: "But somewhere, perhaps, / She does exist!?" That invisible Russia, where "under the tender skies / Everyone shares / God's word and bread." "I pray thee: / Hold on! / Be alive in decay, / So in the heart, as in Kitezh, / I could hear your bells!" [280-281]

So, with the new opportunity and the lure of emigration, Galich was torn between the submerged legendary Kitezh [legendary Russian invisble city] and today's filth: "It's the same vicious circle, the same old story, the ring, which cannot be either closed, or open!" [599]. He left with the words: "I, a Russian poet, cannot be separated from Russia by 'the fifth article' [the requirement in the Soviet internal passport - "nationality"]!" [588]

Yet some other departing Jews drew from his songs a seed of aversion and contempt for Russia, or at least, the confidence that it is right to break away from her. Heed a voice from Israel: "We said goodbye to Russia. Not without pain, but forever…. Russia still holds us tenaciously. But … in a year, ten years, a hundred years — we'll escape from her and find our own home. Listening to Galich, we once again recognize that it is the right way."23

(5) Kevin MacDonald's comments on Chapter 24 of Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together

From: ReporterNotebook <> Date: 17.10.2010 04:55 AM

Chapter 24 of 200 Years Together: "Breaking Away from Bolshevism"
Kevin MacDonald
October 16, 2010

There's an old saying that the winners write history. One of the most important consequences of Jews being a dominant intellectual and media elite is that they write their own history. Events like the devastation of the U.S.S. Liberty by Israel during the Six-Day War, the role of Jewish neocons in promoting the Iraq war, and the historiography of anti-Semitism (a major topic of Separation and Its Discontents) become arenas where unpleasant realities are simply expunged or are given apologetic treatments. On the other hand, Jewish victimization during World War II has achieved the status of a moral touchstone and is massively promoted in the media and in the educational system to the point that it has become a prime weapon in the push for massive non-European immigration, multiculturalism, and advancing other Jewish causes (see here, p. 95).Naysayers are categorized as anti-Semites or self-hating Jews.

A prime example of the ability of Jews to manipulate the historical record is expunging the critical Jewish role in Communism during the Bolshevik Revolution and in the ensuing decades — the main topic of Solzhenitsyn's Chapter 24 ("Breaking Away from Bolshevism"). Solzhenitsyn ascribes the fervor of the early Soviet government to the intensity of Jewish support. But, as noted in previous chapters, the very large imbalances in elite positions favoring Jews characteristic of the early decades diminished, especially after World War II, when Jews began to be specifically targeted, as during the anti-cosmopolite campaign of the early 1950s. Israel also exerted its primeval pull on Jews, especially after the Six-Day War when the USSR supported the Arabs. The result was an upsurge in overt Jewish nationalism, with synagogues filled and societies devoted to studying Jewish history, Jewish culture, and the Hebrew language.

Jews turned against Communism but in doing so "almost none" of them ever acknowledged "their formerly active and cruel role in the triumph of communism in Russia." "The whole educated society, the cultured circle, had genuinely failed to notice any Russian grievances in the 1920s and 1930s; they didn't even assume that such could exist — yet they instantly recognized the Jewish grievances as soon as those emerged."

The level of self-deception is truly breathtaking. Acutely sensitive to any injustice toward Jews, they were completely tone deaf in comprehending the suffering of others or their role in causing it. A Jewish author writes of the attraction of Jewish intellectuals to Marxism as motivated by idealistic visions of liberalism and humanism. Solzhenitsyn scoffs: "Liberalism and humanism? True, but only after Stalin's death, while coming to their senses." Even the concession that Jews were attracted to Marxism is lost on the great majority of Jewish writers who "find that under communism there was nothing but Jewish suffering! … Is it really possible to forget everything so completely?"

One can only read in amazement the Jewish writer who claims "If ... one takes a bird's-eye view of the entire history of the Soviet period, then the latter appears as one gradual process of destruction of the Jews." Solzhenitsyn comments: "Note — the entire history! We investigated this in the previous chapters and saw that even without taking into account Jewish over-representation in the top Soviet circles, there had been a period of well-being for many Jews with mass migration to cities, open access to higher education and a blossoming of culture." Solzhenitsyn is incredulous at the claim by a Jewish writer that "it is not possible to cultivate a loyal Soviet elite among them [the Jews]":

Oh my God! Was not this method working flawlessly for 30 years and only recently went awry? So where did all those glorious and famous names — whom we've seen in such numbers — came from? And why were their eyes kept so tightly shut that they couldn't see the essence of Soviet rule for thirty to forty years? How is it that their eyes were opened only now? And what opened them? Well, it was mostly because of the fact that now that power had suddenly turned around and began pushing the Jews not only out of its ruling and administrative circles, but out of cultural and scientific establishments also.

Solzhenitsyn quotes several Jewish writers who acknowledge the role of Jews in the most murderous regime in history, but they are few and far between. One such writer is particularly trenchant in his criticism of these Jews with no historical memory, writing of "our young Zionists who demonstrate so much contempt toward Russia, her rudeness and savagery, contrasting all this with [the worthiness of] the ancient Jewish nation. I saw it pretty clearly, that those who today sing hosanna to Jewry, glorifying it in its entirety (without the slightest sense of guilt or the slightest potential to look inside), [not long ago] beat their breasts in ecstasy: 'Long live the great brotherhood of nations! Eternal Glory to the Father and Friend, the genius Comrade Stalin!'"

Tellingly, Solzhenitsyn compares the ever-guilty and remorseful Germany with the behavior of Soviet Jews. Germany has made unending payments to Israel and to Holocaust victims, and the slightest advocacy of German sovereignty in regulating its borders and ensuring a future for ethnic Germans is met with outpourings of guilt about their past. On the other hand, there is a complete lack of guilt and remorse among Jews for their role in the destruction of Russia, and the vast majority of Jews are intensely committed an overtly ethnonationalist Israel. A Jew who did repent for the evil perpetrated by Jews against Russia "was bitterly ridiculed"—certainly not the fate of guilt-prone Germans.

The result was that Jews, after they "zealously helped to exterminate [the Russian intelligentsia] during the first decade after the revolution" now became the vanguard of the new revolution against the USSR. Jews were responsible for publicizing Soviet injustices in the West, but the great majority of these Soviet dissidents never apologized for the behavior of their Jewish ancestors in the early decades of Soviet rule. Quite a few cared nothing about the fate of non-Jews. Their protests were solely about the treatment of Jews and the ability of Jews to emigrate from the USSR.

As an exemplar of these tendencies, Solzhenitsyn devotes considerable space to Alexander Galich, a poet who was labeled by the arbiters of culture as "the most popular people's poet," the "bard of modern Russia." Solzhenitsyn's account drips with disgust and scorn. Galich is representative of the Jews Solzhenitsyn discusses in his chapter on World War II: He avoided military service by claiming "poor health" but then "unexpectedly easily became the head of the literature section of the local Drama Theatre" — obviously suggesting that Galich benefited from his Jewish connections. He spent the war safely entertaining troops well behind the front lines.

After the war, he smoothly morphed into a widely acclaimed screenwriter, comfortably spouting the "stupefying official Soviet lies" that were required for success in the media. (The parallels to the current recipe for media success in the West are painfully obvious.) But as Jews generally soured on the regime, Galich became an influential critic of the regime. His songs criticized current Soviet leadership, narrowly focusing on "their privileged way of life," while generally ignoring the bloody early decades. As someone who suffered through his experience in the Gulag, Solzhenitsyn is particularly outraged that Galich represented himself as having been a camp inmate; and "from the camp we were sent right to the front!," implying also that he served as a soldier at the front during the war.

But even worse is Galich's failure to apologize for his own past as a purveyor of Soviet lies: "He had never expressed a single word of his personal remorse, not a word of personal repentance, anywhere!" (emphasis in text). Galich's Jewish identity and sense of Jewish victimization assumed center stage: "Our train leaves for Auschwitz today and daily." Galich the "folk poet" had nothing but hatred and contempt for the Russian people. In his songs, all the evildoers are Russians, often referred to with ethnic slurs. There is not a single heroic Russian soldier, worker, or intellectual, "not even a single decent [Russian] camp inmate (he assigned the role of the main camp inmate to himself)." On the other hand, all of his Jewish characters are "either humiliated, or suffering, or imprisoned and dying in a camp" (while guarded by Russians), despite the fact that Jews remained overrepresented in elite positions even after the post-WWII campaign for greater non-Jewish participation among the elite.

What a short memory they have — not only Galich, but his whole audience who were sincerely, heartily taking in these sentimental lines! … They have sincerely and completely forgotten [the past]. Indeed, it is so difficult to remember bad things about yourself.

Notice that Solzhenitsyn is saying that the Jews had "sincerely and completely forgotten" about the past. This is yet another example of Jewish self-deception in accord with their ethnic self-image. It goes without saying that behind this avalanche of self-deception is a towering ethnocentrism that biases Jewish self-perceptions—the point of Chapter 8 of Separation and Its Discontents. Jews steadfastly believe their own myths while delighting in skewering the myths of the peoples they live among. This is what makes Jewish issues fundamentally insoluble: With very few exceptions as noted by Solzhenitsyn (inevitably labeled "self-hating Jews"), there can never be common ground because Jewish self-perceptions are inevitably skewed by their ethnocentrism. They simply fail to see how their behavior as an elite, whether in the Soviet Union of the 1920s and 1930s or in the contemporary United States and throughout the West, could conflict with the legitimate interests of others. 

A recent example is neocon warrior Joshua Muravchik reviewing a book on the Jewish refusniks and therefore covering the same ground as Solzhenitsyn's Chapter 24: 

[It is ironic} that Communism, a monstrosity in whose birth a number of deracinated Jews played a shamefully large part, was eventually brought down by acts undertaken in disproportionate measure by re-racinated Jews: Israelis, Americans, and, above all, Soviet citizens.

The proposal that the Jews responsible for the birth of Communism were "deracinated" stands as needing no defense or explanation. No need to explain Jewish ethnic networking at all the elite levels of Soviet society during the most horrific days of the Soviet regime—a point emphasized repeatedly by Solzhenitsyn in several chapters. No need to discuss the great mass of evidence that Jewish radicals comprised a very significant, mainstream Jewish subculture that retained a strong ethnic identity throughout the early decades of the 20th century. (Solzhenitsyn has some excellent examples in Chapter 27, soon to be posted.) Muravchik is confident that his audience is quite prepared to believe that Jews were not really Jews when they served as Stalin's willing executioners, but then became heroic Jews as they acted to bring down the Evil Empire. Meanwhile, as a proudly racinated Jew, Muravchik puts the interests of Israel first, for example, by writing propaganda pieces for Commentary aimed at denying that neoconservative foreign policy prescriptions are tailored to benefit Israel and that imputations to that effect amount to "anti-Semitism" (see my review of Muravchik's role in neoconservatism here).

So it goes.

In conclusion, I can only agree wholeheartedly with Solzhenitsyn for the need to dispassionately think about Jewish issues, but without fear:

We have to get used to talk about Jewish question not in a hush and fearfully, but clearly, articulately and firmly. We should do so not overflowing with passion, but sympathetically aware of both the unusual and difficult Jewish world history and centuries of our Russian history that are also full of significant suffering. Then the mutual prejudices, sometimes very wild, would disappear and calm reason would reign.

The only problem with this is that Solzhenitsyn shows that the vast majority of Jews are simply incapable of dispassionate analysis that would in any way imply criticism of Jews. And that in turn implies that a real discussion is impossible.

(6) Chapter 27 of Solzhenitsyn's 200 Years Together: "About the Assimilation. Author's afterword"

Chapter 27. About the Assimilation. Author's afterword

Posted on October 16, 2010 by 200yearstogether

When and how did this extraordinary Jewish status of "guests everywhere" begin? The conventional wisdom suggests that the centuries-old Jewish diaspora should be dated from the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in AD70; and that, after being thrown out of their native land, the Jews began wandering around the world. However, it is not true because "the great majority of the Jews were already dispersed by that time; hardly more than one-eighth of the nation lived in Palestine."[1] The Jewish Diaspora had begun much earlier: "The Jews were mainly a dispersed nation by the time of the Babylonian captivity [6th century B.C.] and, possibly, even earlier; Palestine was only a religious and, to certain extent, a cultural center."[2]

Scattering of the Jews was already foretold in the Pentateuch. "I will scatter you among the nations" (Leviticus 26:33). "Yahweh will scatter you among the peoples, and you shall be left few in number among the nations" (Deuteronomy 4:27).

"Only a small part of the Jews had returned from the [Babylonian] captivity; many had remained in Babylon as they did not want to abandon their property." Large settlements were established outside of Palestine; "large numbers of Jews concentrated … in major trade and industrial centers of the ancient world." (For example, in Alexandria under Ptolemaic dynasty, Jews accounted for two-fifth of the population.) "They were, mainly, traders and craftsmen."[3] The Jewish-Hellenistic philosopher Philo Judaeus (who died in the middle of the 1st century, 20 years before the destruction of the Temple) states: "[The Jews] regard the Holy City as their metropolis because the Holy Temple of Almighty God is situated there, and they call "homeland" the countries where they live, and where their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and ancient forebears lived, and where they were born and brought up."[4]

Mikhail Gershenzon mused on the fates of the Jewish nation after the Babylonian captivity: "[The Jews] took roots in foreign lands and, contrary to expectations, didn't aspire to return to their old homeland." "Just recall: the Kingdom of Judah was still there, yet most of the Jews were already scattered across the whole Middle East; the Second Temple still stood in all its splendor, but the Language of the Bible was no longer heard on the streets and in the houses of Jerusalem; everybody spoke either Syrian or Greek there." Even back then the Jews were inclined to think: "We should not hold dear our national independence, we should learn to live without it, under foreign rule; we should not become attached to a land or to a single language."[5]

Modern Jewish authors agree: "The Jews in the ancient world were scattered and established large centers in the Diaspora even before the collapse of Jewish nationhood."[6] "The nation which was given the Law did not want to return to its native country. There is some very profound and still not understood meaning in it. It is much easier to chat about Jewish values and about the preservation of Jewry than to explain the true reasons for such a long Galut."[7] (Even in the mid-20th century the Hebrew language still had no word for "Diaspora" as for the living in the voluntary scattering, there was only "Galut," referring to the forced exile.)

From the historical evidence we see that the scattering of the Jews was not solely their unfortunate fate, but also a voluntary quest. Indeed, it was a bemoaned disaster, but could it also be a method of making life easier? This is an important question in attempting to understand the Diaspora.

The Jews still do not have a generally accepted view on the Diaspora, whether it has been blessing for them or a bane.

Zionism, from the very moment of its birth, responded to this question firmly (and fully in line with its essence): "Our scattering is our biggest curse; it brings us no good, and no advantages and no peace to others as well…. We are guests everywhere … and we are still unwanted, everybody wants to get rid of us."[8] "To be a homeless man, feeling as a guest everywhere — this is the true curse of exile, its real bitterness!"[9] "Some say that having several 'homes' improves chances to survive for the Jews. In my view, a nation staying in many other's homes and not caring about its own cannot expect security. The availability of many homes corrupts."[10]

Yet the opposite opinion is even more prevalent, and it seems to be more credible. "Perhaps, the Jewish nation had survived and persevered not in spite of its exile, but because of it; the Jewish Diaspora is not an episode, but the organic 'ingredient' of Jewish history."[11]

"Was the Jewish nation preserved in all its uniqueness in spite of the exile and scattering or because of it? The tragedy of Jerusalem in AD70 destroyed the state, yet it was necessary to save the people"; "the extraordinarily intensified instinct of national self-preservation" prompted Jews toward salvation through Diaspora."[12] "Jewry was never able to fully comprehend its situation and the causes for it. They saw exile as the punishment for their sins, yet time and time again it turned out to be the dispensation by which the Lord has distinguished his nation. Through the Diaspora, the Jew worked out the mark of the Chosen he foresaw on his brow…. The scattered state of the nation is not unnatural for him…. Already in the periods of the most comfortable existence in their own state, Jewry was stationing garrisons on its route and spearheading vanguards in all directions, as if sensing its future dispersion and getting ready to retreat to the positions it had prepared in advance." "Thus, the Diaspora is a special form of Jewish existence in space and time of this world."[13] And look how awesomely mobile are the Jews in Diaspora. "The Jewish people never strike root in one place, even after several generations."[14]

But after they were so widely scattered and had become small minorities among other nations, the Jews had to develop a clear position toward those nations — how to behave among them and how to relate to them, to seek ultimate bonding and merging with those nations, or to reject them and separate from them? The Holy Scripture contains quite a few covenants of isolation. The Jews avoided even their closest kindred neighbors, the Samaritans and Israelites, so irreconcilably that it was not permitted to even take a piece of bread from them. Mixed marriages were very strictly forbidden. "We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons." (Nehemiah 10:30) And Ezra had ordered them to dissolve even the existing marriages, even those with children.

Thus, living in Diaspora for thousands of years, the Jews did not mix with other nations, just as butter does not mix with water, but comes to the surface and floats. During all those long centuries, they perceived themselves as something distinct, and until the 18th century "the Jews as a nation have never shown any inclination for assimilation." The pre-revolutionary Jewish Encyclopedia, while quoting Marx's assertion that "the Jews had not assimilated, because they represented the highest economic class, that is the class of capitalists amidst the agricultural and petty bourgeois nations," objects, saying that the economy was secondary: "the Jews of the Diaspora have consciously established their own economy which protected them from assimilation. They did it because they were conscious of their cultural superiority," which, for its part, was created by "the spiritual meaning of Judaism in its most complete form. The latter protected them from imitation."[15]

But "from the mid-18th century the Jews started to believe in assimilation, and that becomes … the ferment of decomposition of the Jewish nation in Western Europe of the 19th century." Assimilation begins when "the surrounding culture reaches the height held by the Jewish culture, or when the Jewry ceases to create new values." The national will of the European Jews was weakened by the end of the 18th century; it had lost ground because of extremely long waiting. Other nations began creating brilliant cultures that eclipsed Jewish culture."[16] And exactly then Napoleon launched the Pan-European emancipation; in one country after another, the roads to social equality were opening before the Jews, and that facilitated assimilation. (There is an important caveat here: "There is no unilateral assimilation," and "the assimilating Jews supplemented the host cultures with Jewish national traits." Heine and Börne, Ricardo and Marx, Beaconsfield-Disraeli and Lassalle, Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn — "during their assimilation into the host cultures, they added Jewish elements to them."[17])

In some cases, assimilation leads to a brighter creative personal self-fulfillment. But, overall, "assimilation was the price paid by the Jews for the benefit of having access to the European culture. Educated Jews convinced themselves that "the Jews are not a nation, but only a religious group."[18] "The Jewish nation, after it joined the realm of European nations, began to lose its national uniqueness … only the Jew from the ghetto retained pronounced national traits … while the intelligent Jew tried with all his strength to look unlike a typical Jew." Thus spread "the theory that there is no Jewish nation, but only 'the Poles, Frenchmen and Germans of Mosaic Law.'"[19]

Marx, and then Lenin saw the solution of Jewish question in the full assimilation of the Jews in the countries of their residence.

In contrast to the clumsiness of those ideologues, the ideas of M.O. Gershenzon are much more interesting. He put them forward late in life, in 1920, and they are all the more interesting because the lofty thinker Gershenzon was a completely assimilated Russian Jew. Nevertheless, the Jewish question was alive and well in his mind. He explored it in his article The Destinies of the Jewish Nation.

Unlike the contemporary Jewish Encyclopedia, Gershenzon believes that Jewish assimilation is the ancient phenomenon, from time immemorial. One voice constantly "tempted him [the Jew] to blend with the environment — hence comes this ineradicable and ancient Jewish aspiration to assimilate." Yet another voice "demanded above all things to preserve his national uniqueness. The whole story of scattering is the never-ending struggle of two wills within Jewry: the human will against the superhuman one, the individual against the collective…. The requirements of the national will towards the individual were so ruthless and almost beyond human power, that without having a great hope common to all Jewry, the Jew would succumb to despair every now and then, and would be tempted to fall away from his brethren and desert that strange and painful common cause." Contrary to the view that it is not difficult to explain why assimilation began precisely at the end of the 18th century, Gershenzon is rather surprised: "Is it not strange that assimilation so unexpectedly accelerated exactly during the last one hundred years and it continues to intensify with each passing hour? Shouldn't the temptation to fall apart be diminished greatly nowadays, when the Jews obtained equal rights everywhere?" No, he replies: "It is not the external force that splits the Jews; Jewry disintegrates from the inside. The main pillar of Jewry, the religious unity of the Jewish nation, is decayed and rotten." So, what about assimilation, where does it lead to? "At first sight, it appears that … [the Jews] are imbued, to the marrow of their bones, with the cosmopolitan spirit or, at least, with the spirit of the local culture; they share beliefs and fixations of the people around them." Yet it is not exactly like that: "They love the same things, but not in the same way…. They indeed crave to embrace the alien gods… They strive to accept the way of life of modern culture…. They pretend that they already love all that — truly love, and they are even able to convince themselves of that." Alas! One can only love his own faith, "the one born in the throes from the depths of the soul."[20]

Jewish authors genuinely express the spiritual torment experienced by the assimilating Jew. "If you decided to pretend that you are not a Jew, or to change your religion, you are doomed to unending internal struggle with your Jewish identity…. You live in terrible tension…. In a way, this is immoral, a sort of spiritual self-violation."[21] (This inner conflict was amazingly described by Chekhov in his essay Tumbleweed.) "This evil stepmother — assimilation … forced the individual to adapt to everything: to the meaning of life and human relations, to demands and needs, to the way of life and habits. It crippled the psychology of the nation in general and … that of the national intelligentsia in particular." It compelled people "to renounce their own identity, and, ultimately, led to self-destruction."[22] "It is a painful and humiliating search of identity."[23] But even "the most complete assimilation is ephemeral: it never becomes natural," it does not liberate "from the need to be on guard" all the time.[24]

In addition to the lack of trust on the part of surrounding native people, assimilating Jews come under fire from their fellow Jews; they are accused of "consumerism and conformism," of "the desire to desert their people, to dispose of their Jewish identity," and of "the national defection."[25]

Nevertheless, during the 19th century everything indicated that assimilation was feasible and necessary, that it was predetermined and even inevitable. Yet the emergence of Zionism cast a completely new light on this problem. Before Zionism, "every Jew suffered from painful duality,"[26] the dissonance between the religious tradition and the surrounding external world.

In the early 20th century Jabotinsky wrote: "When the Jew adopts a foreign culture … one should not trust the depth and strength of such conversion. The assimilated Jew cannot withstand a single onslaught, he abandons the 'adopted' culture without any resistance whatsoever, as soon as he sees that the power of that culture is over … he cannot be the pillar for such a culture." He provided a shining example of the Germanized Austria-Hungary, when, with the growth of Czech, Hungarian and Polish cultures, Germanized Jews actively conformed to new ways of life. "It is all about certain hard realities of the natural relationship between a man and his culture, the culture created by his ancestors."[27] This observation is true, of course, though "hard realities" sounds somewhat dry. (Jabotinsky not only objected to assimilation fiercely, he also insistently warned the Jews to avoid Russian politics, literature and art, cautioning that after a while the Russians would inevitably turn down such service.[28])

Many individual and collective examples, both in Europe and Russia, in the past and nowadays, illustrate the fragility of Jewish assimilation.

Consider Benjamin Disraeli, the son of a non-religious father; he was baptized in adolescence and he did not just display the English way of life, he became no less than the symbol of the British Empire. So, what did he dream about at leisure, while riding his novel-writing hobby-horse? He wrote about exceptional merits and Messianism of the Jews, expressed his ardent love to Palestine, and dreamt of restoring the Israeli homeland![29]

And what's about Gershenzon? He was a prominent historian of Russian culture and an expert on Pushkin. He was even criticized for his "Slavophilism." But, nevertheless, at the end of his life, he wrote: "Accustomed to European culture from a tender age, I deeply imbibed its spirit … and I truly love many things in it…. But deep in my mind I live differently. For many years a secret voice from within appeals to me persistently and incessantly: This is not yours! This is not yours! A strange will inside me sorrowfully turns away from [Russian] culture, from everything happening and spoken around me…. I live like a stranger who has adapted to a foreign country; the natives love me, and I love them too; I zealously work for their benefit … yet I feel I am a stranger, and I secretly yearn for the fields of my homeland."[30]

After this confession of Gershenzon, it is appropriate to formulate the key thesis of this chapter. There are different types of assimilation: civil and domestic assimilation, when the assimilated individual is completely immersed in the surrounding life and accepts the interests of the native nation (in that sense, the overwhelming majority of Russian, European and American Jews would perhaps consider themselves assimilated); cultural assimilation; and, at the extreme, spiritual assimilation, which also happens, albeit rarely. The latter is more complex and does not result from the former two types of assimilation. (In the opinion of a critic, The Correspondence between Two Corners by Vyacheslav Ivanov and M.O. Gershenzon, that "small book of tremendous importance", serves as "a proof of the inadequacy of Jewish assimilation, even in the case of apparently complete cultural assimilation."[31])

Or take another individual, [M. Krol], a revolutionary in his youth and a "converted" émigré after the revolution, he marvels that the Russian Jews even in their new countries of emigration demonstrated "a huge amount of national energy" and were building an "original Jewish culture" there. Even in London the Jews had their own Yiddish schools, their own social organizations, and their own solid economics; they did not merge with the English way of life, but only accommodated to its demands and reinforced the original English Jewry. (The latter even had their own British Council of Jews, and called themselves the "Jewish community of the Great Britain" — note that all this was in England, where Jewish assimilation was considered all but complete.) He witnessed the same thing in France, and was particularly impressed by the similar "feat" in the United States.[32]

And there is also that unfailing and reliable Jewish mutual support, that truly outstanding ability that preserves the Jewish people. Yet it further weakens the stability of assimilation.

It was not only the rise of Zionism that prompted the Jews to reject assimilation. The very course of the 20th century was not conductive to assimilation.

On the eve of World War II in 1939, a true Zionist, Max Brod, wrote: "It was possible to argue in support of the theory of assimilation in the days of far less advanced statehood of the 19th century," but "this theory lost any meaning in the era when the peoples increasingly consolidate"; "we, the Jews, will be inevitably crushed by bellicose nationalistic peoples, unless we take our fate into our hands and retreat in time."[33]

Martin Buber had a very stern opinion on this in 1941: "So far, our existence had served only to shake the thrones of idols, but not to erect the throne of God. This is exactly why our existence among other nations is so mysterious. We purport to teach others about the absolute, but in reality we just say 'no' to other nations, or, perhaps, we are actually nothing more than just the embodiment of such negation. This is why we have turned into the nightmare of the nations."[34]

Then, two deep furrows, the Catastrophe and the emergence of Israel soon afterwards, crossed the course of Jewish history, shedding new and very bright light on the problem of assimilation.

Arthur Koestler clearly formulated and expressed his thoughts on the significance of the state of Israel for world Jewry in his book Promise and Fulfillment: Palestine 1917-1949 and in an article, Judah at the Crossroads.

An ardent Zionist in his youth, Koestler left Vienna for a Palestinian kibbutz in 1926; he worked for a few years in Jerusalem as a Hebrew-writing columnist for Jabotinsky's newspaper; he also reported for several German newspapers. And then he wrote: "If we exclude from the Jewish religion the mystical craving for the Promised Land, then the very basis and essence of this religion would disappear." And further, "after the restoration of the Jewish state, most of the Jewish prayers, rites and symbols lost their meaning…. The God of Israel has abided by the treaty; he had returned the land of Canaan to Abraham's seed…. If, however, [the religious Jew] defies the order to return to the land of his ancestors and thus violates the treaty, he consequently … anathematizes himself and loses his Jewishness." On the other hand, it may be difficult for not very religious Jews to understand why they should make sacrifices to preserve "Jewish values" not included in the religious doctrine. "The [Jewish] religion loses any sense if you continue to pray about the return to Zion even after you have grimly determined not to go there." A painful choice, yes, but "the choice that must be made immediately, for the sake of the next generation…. Do I want to move to Israel? If I do not, then what right do I have to continue calling myself a Jew and thus to mark my children with the stigma of isolation? The whole world would sincerely welcome the assimilation of the Jews," and after three generations or so, "the Jewish question would fade away."[35]

The London newspaper Jewish Chronicle objected to Koestler: perhaps, "it is much better, much more reasonable and proper for a Jew from the Diaspora to live as before, at the same time helping to build the State of Israel?" Yet Koestler remained adamant: "They want both to have their cake and eat it. This is the route to disaster."[36]

Yet all previous attempts at assimilation ended in failure; so why it should be different this time? — argued the newspaper. Koestler replied: "Because all previous attempts of assimilation were based on the wrong assumption that the Jews could be adequate sons of the host nation, while at the same time preserving their religion and remaining 'the Chosen people.'" But "ethnic assimilation is impossible if Judaism is preserved; and conversely Judaism collapses in case of ethnic assimilation. Jewish religion perpetuates the national isolation — there is nothing you can do about this fact." Therefore, "before the restoration of Israel, the renunciation of one's Jewish identity was equivalent to refusal to support the persecuted and could be regarded as a cowardly surrender." But "now, we are talking not about surrender, but about a free choice."[37]

Thus, Koestler offered a tough choice to the Diaspora Jews: "to become Israelis or to stop being Jews. He himself took the latter path."[38] (Needless to say, Jews in the Diaspora met Koestler's conclusions mainly with angry criticism.)

Yet those who had chosen the first option, the citizens of the State of Israel, obtained a new support and, from that, a new view at this eternal problem. For instance, a modern Israeli author writes sharply: "The Galut Jew is an immoral creature. He uses all the benefits of his host country but at the same time he does not fully identify with it. These people demand the status which no other nation in the world has — to be allowed to have two homelands: the one, where they currently live, and another one, where 'their heart lives.' And after that they still wonder why they are hated!"[39]

And they do wonder a lot: "Why, why are the Jews so disliked (true, the Jews are disliked, this is fact; otherwise, why strive for liberation?)? And from what? Apparently, not from our Jewishness…." "We know very well that we should liberate ourselves, it is absolutely necessary, though … we still cannot tell exactly what from."[40]

A natural question — what should we do to be loved — is seldom asked. Jewish authors usually see the whole world as hostile to them, and so they give way to grief: "The world is now split into those who sympathize with the Jewish people, and those seeking to destroy the Jewish people."[41] Sometimes, there is proud despair: "It is humiliating to rely on the authorities for the protection from the nation which dislikes you; it is humiliating to thank ingratiatingly the best and worthiest of this nation, who put in a good word for you."[42]

Another Israeli disagrees: "In reality, this world is not solely divided on the grounds of one's attitude toward Jews, as we sometimes think owing to our excessive sensitivity." A. Voronel agrees: "The Jews pay too much attention to anti-Semites, and too little — to themselves."[43]

Israel, the Jewish state, must become the center that secures the future of world Jewry. As early as in the 1920s no other than Albert Einstein wrote to no other than Pyotr Rutenberg, a former Social Revolutionary and possibly the main author of the revolutionary demands of January 9, 1905 (he accompanied Orthodox Father Gapon during the workers' procession on that date but was later one of his executioners; still later, Rutenberg left Russia to rebuild Palestine): "First of all, your [Palestinian settlers'] lives must be protected, because you sacrifice yourselves for the sake of the Spirit and in the name the entire Jewish nation. We must demonstrate that we are a nation with the will to live and that we are strong enough for the great accomplishment that would consolidate our people and protect our future generations. For us and for our posterity, the State must become as precious as the Temple was for our ancestors."[44]

Jewish authors support this conviction in many ways: "The Jewish problem, apparently, has no reliable solution without the Jewish state."[45] "Israel is the center that guarantees the future of the Jews of the whole world."[46] Israel is the only correct place for Jews, one where their "historical activity does not result in historical fiasco."[47]

And only a rumble coming from that tiny and endlessly beleaguered country betrays "the phantom of the Catastrophe, permanently imprinted in the collective unconscious of the Israelis."[48]
* * *

And what is the status of assimilation, the Diaspora, and Israel today?

By the 1990s, assimilation had advanced very far. For example, "for 80-90% of the American Jews, the modern tendencies of the Jewish life promise gradual assimilation." This holds true not only for the United States: "Jewish life gradually disappears from most of the Diaspora communities." Most modern-day Jews "do not have painful memories of the Catastrophe…. They identify with Israel much less than their parents." Doubtlessly, "the role of the Diaspora is shrinking disastrously, and this is fraught with inevitable loss of its essential characteristics." "Will our grandchildren remain Jews…? Will the Diaspora survive the end of this millennium and, if so, for how long? Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, one of the greatest teachers of our time … warns that the Jews of the Diaspora are no longer a group, 'whose survival is guaranteed by being in jeopardy.'" And because of that, they, paradoxically, "are already on the road to extinction, participating in the 'Catastrophe of self-destruction.'" Moreover, "anti-Semitism in Western countries cannot be anymore considered as the element that strengthens Jewish identity. Anti-Semitic discrimination in politics, business, universities, private clubs, etc. is for all practical purposes eliminated."[49] In present-day Europe "there are many Jews who do not identify as Jews and who react idiosyncratically to any attempt to connect them with that artificial community." "The assimilated Jew does not want to feel like a Jew; he casts away the traits of his race (according to Sartre)."[50] The same author offers a scorching assessment: "European Jews reject their Jewishness; they think it is anti-Semitism that compels them to be the Jews. Yet that is a contradiction: A Jew identifies as a Jew only when he is in danger. Then he escapes as a Jew. But when he himself becomes the source of danger, he is not a Jew."[51]

Thus, "the contours of the collapse of the Diaspora take shape exactly when the Western Jews enjoy freedom and wealth unprecedented in Jewish history, and when they are, or appear to be, stronger than ever." And "if the current trends do not change, most of the Diaspora will simply disappear. We have to admit a real possibility of the humiliating, though voluntary, gradual degradation of the Diaspora…. Arthur Koestler, the advocate of assimilation, who in the 1950s predicted the death of the Diaspora, might prove to be right after all."[52]

Meanwhile, "the Jews of the world, sometimes even to their own surprise, feel like they are personally involved in the destiny of Israel." "If, God forbid, Israel is destroyed, then the Jews in other countries will disappear too. I cannot explain why, but the Jews will not survive the second Catastrophe in this century."[53] Another author attributes the "Jewish mythology of the imminent Catastrophe" precisely to life in the Diaspora, and this is why "American (and Soviet) Jews often express such opinions." They prepare for the Catastrophe: should Israel fall, it will be they who will carry on the Jewish nation.[54] Thus, "almost all of many hypotheses attempting to explain the purpose of Jewish Diaspora … recognize that it makes Jewry nearly indestructible; it guarantees Jewry eternal life within the limits of the existence of mankind."[55]

We also encounter quite a bellicose defense of the principle of Diaspora. American professor Leonard Fayne said: "We oppose the historical demand to make aliyah. We do not feel like we are in exile." In June 1994 "the President of the World Jewish Congress, Shoshana S. Cardin, aggressively announced to the Israelis: 'We are not going to become the forage for aliyah to Israel, and we doubt you have any idea about the richness and harmony of American Jewish life.'"[56] Others state: "We are interesting for the peoples of the world not because of peculiarities of our statehood, but because of our Diaspora which is widely recognized as one of the greatest wonders of world history."[57] Others are rather ironic: "One rogue came up with … the elegant excuse that the "choseness" of the Jews is allegedly nothing else but to be eternally scattered."[58] "The miracle of the restoration of Israel post factum gave new meaning to the Diaspora; simultaneously, it had brilliantly concluded the story that could otherwise drag on. In short, it had crowned the miracle of the Diaspora. It crowned it, but did not abolish it."[59] Yet "it is ironic too, as the goals for which we struggled so hard and which filled us with such pride and feeling of difference, are already achieved."[60]

Understanding the fate of the Diaspora and any successful prediction of its future largely depends on the issue of mixed marriages. Intermarriage is the most powerful and irreversible mechanism of assimilation. (It is no accident that such unions are so absolutely forbidden in the Old Testament: "They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord; for they have borne alien children." (Hosea 5:7)) When Arnold J. Toynbee proposed intermarriage as a means to fight anti-Semitism, hundreds of rabbis opposed him: "Mass mixed marriage means the end of Jewry."[61]

A dramatic growth of mixed marriages is observed in the Western countries: "Data documenting the statistics of 'dissolution' are chilling. In the 1960s 'mixed marriages' accounted for approximately 6% of Jewish marriages in the United States, the home of the largest Jewish community in the world. Today [in 1990s], only one generation later, this number reached 60% — a ten-fold increase. The share of 'mixed marriages' in Europe and Latin America is approximately the same…. Moreover, apart from the orthodox Jews, almost all Jewish families in Western countries have an extremely low birth rate." In addition, "only a small minority of children from 'mixed families' are willing to adopt a distinctly Jewish way of life."[62]

And what about Russia? The Shorter Jewish Encyclopedia provides the following statistics: in 1988 [still under the Soviet regime], in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic), 73% of married Jewish men, and 63% of married Jewish women had non-Jewish spouses (in 1978 these numbers were lower: 13% for men, and 20% for women.). "Actually, Jews in such marriages tend to lose their Jewish self-consciousness much faster; they more often identify themselves with other nationalities during census."[63]

Thus, almost everywhere, to a greater or lesser degree, we have the "erosion of Jewish life," "dilution of racial, religious and ethnic borders that, until recently, served as the barriers for assimilation and 'intermarriage.'" Today, "when common anti-Semitism declined so abruptly, … the Jews have lost a many great principles that in past used to be strong pillars of self-identification."[64]

The Jews of the Diaspora are often attacked by the Israelis. Thirty and forty years after the creation of the State of Israel, the Israelis ask Diaspora Jews mockingly and sometimes angrily: "So, what about modern Jews? Most likely, they will always remain in their true historical home, in the Galuth."[65] "The Algerian Jews had preferred France to Israel, and then the majority of the Iranian Jews, who left Khomeini's rule, gave a wide berth to Israel." "By pulling up stakes, they search for countries with higher standards of living, and a higher level of civilization. The love of Zion is not sufficient in itself."[66] "The eternal image of a classical 'imminent catastrophe' does not attract the Jews to Israel anymore."[67] "The Jews are a nation corrupted by their stateless and ahistoric existence."[68] "The Jews did not pass the test. They still do not want to return to their homeland. They prefer to stay in Galut and complain about anti-Semitism every time they are criticized…. And nobody may say a bad word about Israel, because to criticize Israel is 'anti-Semitism!' If they are so concerned about Israel, why do they not move here to live? But no, this is exactly what they try to avoid!"[69] "Most of the Jews of the world have already decided that they do not want to be independent…. Look at the Russian Jews. Some of them wanted independence, while others preferred to continue the life of a mite on the Russian dog. And when the Russian dog had become somewhat sick and angry, they have turned to the American dog. After all, the Jews lived that way for two thousand years."[70]

And now, the the Diaspora Jew "is often nervous when confronted by an Israeli; he would rather feel guilty than … share his fate with Israel. This sense of inferiority is compensated by intensely maintaining his Jewish identity … through deliberate over-emphasizing of petty Jewish symbolism." At the same time, "the Jew from the Diaspora alone shoulders the specific risk of confronting surrounding anti-Semitism." Yet, "no matter how the Israel behaves, the Diaspora has no choice: it will quietly stand behind the Israelis like an unloved but faithful wife."[71]

It was forecasted that "by 2021, the Diaspora will probably shrink by another million souls." "The interior workings of Jewish history… indicate that, most likely, the size of world Jewry will further decrease with the gradual concentration of a Jewish majority in Zion and not in the Diaspora."[72]

Yet couldn't it be the other way around? Maybe, after all, the Russian Jew Josef Bikerman was right when he confidently claimed that the Diaspora is indestructible? "I accept Galut, where we have lived for two thousand years, where we have developed strong cohesion, and where we must live henceforth, to live and prove ourselves."[73] Could it be that those two voices which, according to Gershenzon, always sound in Jewish ears — one calling to mix with the surroundings, and another demanding to preserve Jewish national uniqueness, — will sound forever?

A reputable historian noted (after World War II) "a paradox in the life of modern Jewry: ever-growing immersion of Jews in the life of other nations does not diminish their national identity and sometimes even intensifies it."[74]

Below are few testimonies made by Russian Jews during the Soviet ("internationalist") period.

"I always had an acute perception of my Jewishness…. From the age of 17, when I left the cradle of high school, I mixed in circles where the Jewish question was central." "My father had a very strong Jewish spirit; despite that, he never observed traditions, Mitzvoth, did not know the language, and yet … everything, that he, a Jew, knew, was somehow subordinated to his Jewish identity."[75]

A writer from Odessa, Arkady Lvov, remembers: "When I was a 10-year old boy, I searched for the Jews among scientists, writers, politicians, and first of all, as a Young Pioneer [a communist youth group in the former Soviet Union], I looked for them among the members of government." Lazar Kaganovich was in third place, ahead of Voroshilov and Kalinin, "and I was proud of Stalin's minister Kaganovich… I was proud of Sverdlov, I was proud of Uritsky… And I was proud of Trotsky — yes, yes, of Trotsky!" He thought that Ostermann (the adviser of Peter the Great) was a Jew, and when he found that Ostermann actually was German, he had "a feeling of disappointment, a feeling of loss," but he "was openly proud that Shafirov was a Jew."[76]

Yet there were many Jews in Russia who were not afraid "to merge with the bulk of the assimilating body,"[77] who devotedly espoused Russian culture:

"In the old days, only a handful of Jews experienced this: Antokolsky, Levitan, Rubinstein, and a few others. Later there were more of them. Oh, they've fathomed Russia so deeply with their ancient and refined intuition of heart and mind! They've perceived her shimmering, her enigmatic play of light and darkness, her struggles and sufferings. Russia attracted their hearts with her dramatic fight between good and evil, with her thunderstorms and weaknesses, with her strengths and charms. But several decades ago, not a mere handful, but thousands Jews entered Russian culture…. And many of them began to identify sincerely as Russians in their souls, thoughts, tastes and habits…. Yet there is still something in the Jewish soul … a sound, a dissonance, a small crack — something very small, but through it, eventually, distrust, mockery and hostility leaks from the outside, while from the inside some ancient memory works away.

So who am I? Who am I? Am I Russian?

No, no. I am a Russian Jew."[78]

Indeed, assimilation apparently has some insurmountable limits. That explains the difference between full spiritual assimilation and cultural assimilation, and all the more so, between the former and widespread civic and social assimilation. Jews — fatefully for Jewry — preserve their identity despite all outward signs of successful assimilation, they preserve "the inner Jewish character" (Solomon Lurie).

The wish to fully merge with the rest of mankind, in spite of all strict barriers of the Law seems natural and vivid. But is it possible? Even in the 20th century some Jews believed that "the unification of the mankind is the ideal of Judaic Messianism."[79] But is it really so? Did such an ideal ever exist?

Far more often, we hear vigorous objections to it: "Nobody will convince or compel me to renounce my Jewish point of view, or to sacrifice my Jewish interests for the sake of some universal idea, be it 'proletarian internationalism,' (the one we idiots believed in the 1920s) or 'Great Russia,' or 'the triumph of Christianity,' or 'the benefit of all mankind,' and so on."[80]

Nearly assimilated non-Zionist and non-religious Jewish intellectuals often demonstrate a totally different attitude. For instance, one highly educated woman with broad political interests, T.M.L., imparted to me in Moscow in 1967 that "it would be horrible to live in an entirely Jewish milieu. The most precious trait of our nation is cosmopolitanism. It would be horrible if all Jews would gather in one militarist state. It is totally incomprehensible for assimilated Jews." I objected timidly: "But it cannot be a problem for the assimilated Jews as they are not Jews anymore." She replied: "No, we still have some [Jewish] genes in us."

Yet it is not about the fatality of origin, blood or genes, it is about which pain — Jewish pain or that of the host nation — is closer to one's heart. "Alas, nationality is more than just knowledge of language, or an introduction to the culture, or even an attachment to the nature and way of life of the country. There is another dimension in it — that of the commonality of historic destiny, determined for each individual by his involvement in the history and destiny of his own people. While for others this involvement is predetermined by birth, for the Jew it is largely a question of personal choice, that of a hard choice."[81]

So far, assimilation has not been very convincing. All those who proposed various ways for universal assimilation have failed. The difficult problem of assimilation persists. And though on a global scale the process of assimilation has advanced very far, it by no means foredooms the Diaspora.

"Even Soviet life could not produce a fully assimilated Jew, the one who would be assimilated at the deepest, psychological level."[82] And, as a Jewish author concludes, "Wherever you look, you will find insoluble Jewish residue in the assimilated liquid."[83]

Yet individual cases of deep assimilation with bright life histories do occur. And we in Russia welcome them wholeheartedly.
* * *

"A Russian Jew … A Jew, a Russian…. So much blood and tears have been shed around this boundary, so much unspeakable torment with no end in sight piled up. Yet, at the same time, we have also witnessed much joy of spiritual and cultural growth…. There were and still are numerous Jews who decide to shoulder that heavy cross: to be a Russian Jew, and at the same time, a Russian. Two affections, two passions, two struggles…. Isn't it too much for one heart? Yes, it is too much. But this is exactly where the fatal tragedy of this dual identity is. Dual identity is not really an identity. The balance here is not an innate but rather an acquired entity."[84] That reflection on the pre-revolutionary Russia was written in 1927 in the Paris emigration.

Some fifty years later, another Jew, who lived in Soviet Russia and later emigrated to Israel, looked back and wrote: "We, the Jews who grew up in Russia, are a weird cross — the Russian Jews…. Others say that we are Jews by nationality and Russians by culture. Yet is it possible to change your culture and nationality like a garment…? When an enormous press drives one metal into another, they cannot be separated, not even by cutting. For decades we were pressed together under a huge pressure. My national identity is expressed in my culture. My culture coalesced with my nationality. Please separate one from another. I am also curious which cells of my soul are of the Russian color and which are of the Jewish one. Yet there was not only pressure, not only a forced fusion. There was also an unexpected affinity between these intercrossing origins, at some deep spiritual layers. It was as if they supplemented each other to a new completeness: like space supplements time, the spiritual breadth supplements the spiritual depth, and the acceptance supplements the negation; and there was a mutual jealousy about 'choseness'. Therefore, I do not have two souls, which quarrel with each other, weaken each other, and split me in two. I have one soul … and it is not two-faced, not divided in two, and not mixed. It is just one."[85]

And the response from Russia: "I believe that the contact of the Jewish and Slavic souls in Russia was not a coincidence; there was some purpose in it."[86]

Author's afterword

In 1990, while finishing April 1917 and sorting out the enormous amount of material not included in The Red Wheel, I decided to present some of that material in the form of a historical essay about Jews in the Russian revolution.

Yet it became clear almost immediately that in order to understand those events the essay must step back in time. Thus, it stepped back to the very first incorporation of the Jews into the Russian Empire in 1772. On the other hand, the revolution of 1917 provided a powerful impetus to Russian Jewry, so the essay naturally stretched into the post-revolutionary period. Thus, the title Two Hundred Years Together was born.

However, it took time for me to realize the importance of that distinct historical boundary drawn by mass emigration of the Jews from the Soviet Union that had begun in the 1970s (exactly 200 years after the Jews appeared in Russia) and which had become unrestricted by 1987. This boundary had been abolished, so that for the first time, the non-voluntary status of the Russian Jews no longer a fact: they ought not to live here anymore; Israel waits for them; all countries of the world are open to them. This clear boundary changed my intention to keep the narrative up to the mid-1990s, because the message of the book was already played out: the uniqueness of Russian-Jewish entwinement disappeared at the moment of the new Exodus.

Now, a totally new period in the history of the by-now-free Russian Jewry and its relations with the new Russia began. This period started with swift and essential changes, but it is still too early to predict its long-term outcomes and judge whether its peculiar Russian-Jewish character will persevere or it will be supplanted with the universal laws of the Jewish Diaspora. To follow the evolution of this new development is beyond the lifespan of this author.

Footnotes omitted here, but available at the link

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