June 20, 2019


It is admittedly risky to raise the subject of Jewish involvement with Communism. Anti-Semitism trolls for excuses to blame Jews for anything and everything. After the fall of the Soviet empire, some citizens of countries that had been for decades under Soviet control found it convenient to explain their lingering anti-Jewish animus as payback for the Jewish Bolsheviks who had oppressed them.

On the American scene, Harvey Klehr in his response to Evanier’s essay very helpfully puts the numbers in perspective, showing what a small percentage of American Jews actually belonged to the CPUSA or supported Bolshevism. Still, there’s reason to worry that just raising the subject could provide fuel for dedicated anti-Semites. And yet, however legitimate the concern, it is dwarfed by the greater dangers of sustained self-deception.

Here, in three parts, is why I say that.


American Jews who joined the Communist party and spied for the Soviets betrayed the Jews before they betrayed America.

To become a member of the party was to undergo a kind of conversion—a voluntary conversion, and one not literally requiring baptism, but, particularly for a Jew, an act far more radical than any mere change in political affiliation. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 established the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the Communist International (Comintern) undertook “to struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state.” Yet whereas other nationalities were allowed to “transition” to self-dissolution, Jews, already scattered among the nations, were denounced as reactionary for wanting to retain their Jewishness.

Marxism-Leninism, ideologically incompatible with Judaism, specifically required the Jewish people to dissolve into the international proletariat. As part of its need to eradicate both the Jewish religion and Jewish nationhood, the Soviet Union forbade the teaching of Hebrew, a language essential to both. The “Jewish sections” of the party, the yevsektsii, enforced this program of Sovietization. As the historian Yuri Slezkine writes in his The House of Government, while Polish, Latvian, and Georgian high-ranking members of the party “seemed to assume that proletarian internationalism was compatible with their native tongues, songs, and foods,” high-ranking Jewish members did not speak Yiddish at home or try to pass anything Jewish on to their children. Many proved their new loyalty by pursuing their fellow Jews with special vigor.

When it came to Zionism, the Communist party under Stalin hailed the 1929 Arab pogroms against Jews in Palestine as the start of an Arab Communist revolution and created the watchwords of 20th-century anti-Zionism: a leftist version of anti-Semitism that condemned Jewish national aspirations as a crime against the international order.

Read the whole thing.

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