The Radical Jewish Tradition
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Published Date :
Published By Bookmarks Publications
ISBN : 9781914143977
Category : History
Format : Paperback
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The claim of Israel and its apologists to represent Jews everywhere, the growth of the antisemitic far right and the approach of the left to the Jewish question are central issues today. A knowledge of the role of Jews in the past aids understanding of these debates. This book recovers some of that long-neglected history. Before the Second World War, the majority of Jews were working class and part of a wider struggle alongside their non-Jewish comrades on the left. The book celebrates Jewish radicalism from the Tsarist Empire to Poland and Germany, from London to New York. To illuminate this background, the issue of Jewish identity is analysed along political, cultural and sociological lines. Fighting oppression and exploitation took numerous political forms, including left Zionism, Bundism and revolutionary Marxism. Far from the Zionist stereotype of the ultimate victims, Jews were revolutionaries, resistance fighters and firebrands. This inspiring radical tradition was ultimately checked by the callous indifference of capitalist governments to refugees and the horror of Auschwitz. However, its lessons must be passed on to inform working-class and anti-imperialist struggles in a world in crisis. ‘This timely book is an excellent antidote to any attempt to de-historicise conflicts such as the one raging in historical Palestine. This de-contextualisation underlies the Israeli and Zionist narratives still dominating mainstream media and politics in Britain and beyond. Pre-Zionist Jewish life and culture, in particular in its Marxist and radical forms,  as this book so succinctly proves, invalidates the absurd attempt to equate Zionism with Judaism and anti-Zionism with antisemitism. This book is about the left that was and should return and about the Jewish role in it as a heritage of relentless struggle against racism, imperialism and Zionism’. — Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine ‘Nowhere else will you find a coherent account of the Jewish socialist tradition’s currents in Eastern Europe, London and New York. Its fascinating stories are framed by convincing arguments that working-class struggles for liberation, united across ethnic and religious lines, are possible and essential. The tradition is counterposed to the Zionist fable that Jews can achieve security through militarism and colonisation’. — Rick Kuhn, Australian Marxist scholar, activist and Deutscher Prize winner

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