Posts tagged Zionism.


The acronym at the top of the tattoo stands for ‘We will make the Russian and German anti-Semites into frightened sheep’. The lower text in Latin reads ‘Crush the arrogance of the rebellious’.

A Jewish nationalist tattoo, depicting the Star of Zion and the all-seeing eye.

Itsik Fefer and Shlomo Mikhoels meet with Albert Einstein. Princeton, 1943. (via YIVO Archives)

Itsik Fefer (1900–1952), Yiddish poet. Born in Shpola, Ukraine, Itsik Fefer was 12 years old when he began to work at a printing shop. In 1917 he joined the Bund and became a trade union activist. A Communist from 1919, he served in the Red Army. He began writing poems in 1918, and in 1922 joined Vidervuks (New Growth) in Kiev, a group of young Yiddish literati whose mentor was Dovid Hofshteyn.

Fefer was known for his literary credo of proste reyd (simple speech), a concept he formulated in 1922. In the early 1920s, poetry, particularly avant-garde poetry, swamped the literary pages of Soviet Yiddish periodicals. This phenomenon worried editors and critics, who were wary of the fact that Yiddish readers usually could not identify with this style of literature. All Yiddish readers, by contrast, could understand Fefer’s proste reyd.

Fefer published his poetic cycle Bliendike mistn (Manure in Bloom) in 1929, which he presented as a travelogue of a trip he took back to Shpola. He believed that the shtetl could be revitalized as a center of Jewish life and culture and could be the grounds for a new Soviet Jewish nation. Yet his poetic eye did not overlook general industrialization projects, and he was happy to see young Jewish men and women among the romantic builders of Communist society. In the 1930s, Fefer also concentrated on the Birobidzhan nation-building project; his book Birobidzhaner lider (Birobidzhan Poems) was published in 1939. At the same time, he wrote many lyrical poems, some of which were set to music.

During World War II, Fefer was an agent of the secret police on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC). In 1943, he and Solomon Mikhoels, the committee’s chair, visited the United States, Canada, Mexico, and England, successfully mobilizing pro-Soviet support. National pride runs through his poetry of that period. The poem “Ikh bin a Yid” (I Am a Jew) is the best-known sample of such Soviet Jewish patriotism. Fefer includes in his Soviet Jewish genealogy such figures as Bar Kokhba, King Solomon, Baruch Spinoza, Isaak LevitanIakov Sverdlov, and Lazar Kaganovich. In his 1948 poem “A vending tsu Peretsn” (An Address to Peretz), Fefer declares a pedigree of Soviet Yiddish literature. He crowns Y. L. Peretz as the genius of Yiddish literature, whereas Sholem Aleichem, the central figure in the Soviet Yiddish literary canon, appears only as part of Peretz’s entourage, which also includes Ḥayim Naḥman BialikDovid Bergelson, and Der Nister.

As did many Soviet Jews, Fefer enthusiastically welcomed the establishment of the State of Israel. He argued that the new state was the concern of the entire Jewish people and that the heroism of Soviet people contributed more to its creation than American Zionism. In the late 1940s, however, Stalin’s regime had no use for Communists who cherished Jewish national hopes. Fefer was arrested in 1948, together with other members of the JAC. He was executed on 12 August 1952.

In the 1990s, the publication of archival materials dealt a blow to the posthumous reputation of Fefer: during the persecution of the JAC, his testimony was central to the prosecution’s case.

(via YIVO)

Who is a Jew? ›


“The revival of Jewish life among some of the Russian Jews in Germany has been an important corrective for thinking Israelis. In the 1980s and 1990s, when Jews streamed out of the Soviet Union, their exit visas all citing Israel as their destination, Israel fought foreign governments and diaspora Jewish organisations to stop them dropping off on the way. They were not refugees, the Israeli government and the World Zionist Organisation contended. They had a homeland: Israel. Outside Israel their Jewish identity would die.

This has not happened in Germany, nor in America, where the mixture of assimilation, religiosity and ethnic identity among the hundreds of thousands of ex-Soviet Jews who live there is similar to that of the broader Jewish community. All this suggests that diasporas are more resilient than dogmas of Zionist primacy admit.


“Most German Jewish communities restrict their membership to halachic Jews only; that is, those born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism in accordance with the halacha. Many of the Russian immigrants do not qualify for membership. Some of them undergo conversion; most do not, leaving them in a sort of Jewish limbo.”

The Society (/League) for the Attainment of Full Civil Rights for the Jewish People in Russia, or Folksgrupe

Some more background on the Society (/League) for the Attainment of Full Civil Rights for the Jewish People in Russia, also known as Folksgrupe mentioned in this quotation.

SOCIETY FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF FULL CIVIL RIGHTS FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN RUSSIA (Rus. “Soyuz dlya dostizheniya polnopraviya yevreyskogo naroda v Rossii”), a non-party organization which existed from 1905 to 1907, whose aim was declared in its name. The society organized the participation of Jews in the elections of the First and Second Duma, also obtaining legal aid for Jews after the pogroms of October 1905. […] It was decided: (1) to appoint a committee in which a delegate of the non-Jewish public would participate to investigate the pogroms and to demand that the guilty officials be dismissed and brought to justice; (2) to claim economic reparation from the government; and (3) to demand the release of Pinḥas Dashewski who was in prison for attacking the organizer of the Kishinev pogroms.


On the question of whether a Jewish national group should be established in the Duma, Vladimir Jabotinsky (speaking for the Zionists) and Dubnow were in favor of the proposal, but Vinaver and his followers opposed it violently. Political polarization of Jewish life broke up the society; Dubnow and M. Kreinin founded their party in 1906, and the Russian Zionist conference at Helsingfors decided that Zionists should contest elections under their own party banner. At a committee meeting in the spring of 1907 it was decided to abolish the society.

(via Jewish Virtual Library)


Folksgrupe (Yiddish: פאלקסגרופע, ‘People’s Group’ in English) was a Jewish Anti-Zionist political organization in Russia, founded at a meeting in Vilna in March 1905. […] Its followers were known as Dostizhentsi (from Достижение, dostizheniye, ‘attainment’).

Led by three prominent lawyers, Maxim Vinaver, Oscar Gruzenberg and Henrik Sliozberg, it assembled liberal elements from the Cadet Party. The party demanded equal civic rights, abolishing laws imposing restrictions on Jews, linguistic rights (the right have access to Yiddish and Hebrew schooling) and independence of religious institutions. It did however not advocate national automony for the Jews.


Zionists and the Folkspartei leader Simon Dubnow came to accuse the group of favouring assilimation. Dubnow had belonged to the group at its initial stage, and formed part of its central bureau. The party was however able to find common ground and some cooperation with the Bund, in their opposition to Zionism.

(via Wikipedia)
  November 28, 2011 at 09:17pm

Boris Shpigel, president of the World Congress of Russian-speaking Jewry and a member of the Russian parliament, has vowed to pay the legal bills for Israeli soldiers being charged with war crimes.

Russian to Foot IDF Bill (Tablet Magazine)

This is from 2009, but I only read it today. What the eff.

  July 02, 2011 at 01:25pm via

Psoy Korolenko and Daniel Kahn perform “Глупые сионисты” (Narishe Zionisten/Foolish Zionists) in Fishka, Tel Aviv, March 23, 2011. (via r0adsideservice)

I’ve posted this song before, but this is a great (new!) performance video.

  June 11, 2011 at 04:08pm

"Inner Emigration" by Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird (via The Arty Semite)

Well Sasha had heard about the emigratzia
And the talk wasn’t just in the family anymore
But in the Kharkov streets there was a kind of thaw

"We’re going home!" said old Saminsky
When he filed his application to leave
And Anya already had family in Tel Aviv

But Sasha didn’t know
200 years among Slavs being called ‘Hebrews’
He knew they’d only be called ‘Russians’ by the Jews

And then on the Prospekt Lenina ovtobus
He heard the Saminsky’s lost their apartment and denied their pass
The weather seemed like it was never going to pass

He chose to make an inner emigration
He chose to keep his alien inside
And all the bureaucratic frustrations
He chose to keep his status bona fide

And what’s the bother of finding a new nation?
A border isn’t art, it’s just a frame
Just make a secret inner emigration
The holy land and exile are the same.

  June 09, 2011 at 03:37am via SoundCloud / loooch

Yedioth: Soviet Jews were cheated into immigrating to Israel ›

The Zionist movement always put itself and its interests before those of the Jewish people. In the 1930s, it did everything possible to derail the 1938 Avian Conference, which tried to find place for desperate Jews trying to escape Hitler; the Zionist leaders were very worried, lest those Jews find some other place to live in, aside from Palestine. When the despot of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, wanted to allow 100,000 European Jews to emigrate to the Republic, the Jewish Agency did everything possible to torpedo the plan. Ben Gurion’s macabre saying of the Second World War – that if he had to choose between saving a million Jew children by sending them to Britain or half that number, by sending them to Palestine, he would choose the latter – is well known.

The most infamous incident of this sort, unfortunately not well known enough, is that of the Patria. This was a ship into which the British herded Jewish refugees from the Nazis, intending to deport them. With the blessing of Moshe Sharet, later to become prime minister, the Hagana placed an explosive device on the ship. On 25 September, 1940, 216 Jews who managed to escape Hitler’s hell were done to death by the Zionists. Later, the perpetrators would claim they misjudged the amount of explosive they used; given that the explosion blew away the entire steel frame on one side, this was some misjudgment, if that’s what it really was. When one of Mapai’s members dared to publicly come out against the attack, writing “it is unacceptable for Jews to sanctify the name by killing other Jews. What right have we to drown women, men, old people and young, whose permission we did not ask, and make a sacrifice of them?”, he was slapped in public by Ben Gurion’s son, Amos. Few people remember the Patria today.

  April 28, 2011 at 02:58am
Title: Глупые сионисты Artist: Псой, Кан, Ой Дивижн 30 plays


“Глупые Cионисты” (Foolish Zionists) by Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko, and Oy Division

The first part is in Yiddish, then translated into English, and then Russian (with some slight changes).

You want to take us to Jerusalem
So we can die as a nation
We’d rather stay in the diaspora
And fight for our liberation
We’d rather stay in the diaspora
And work for our liberation