Archive for the ‘Socialism’ Category

Young Labour’s Jess Bernard on the Online Conversation with Richard Burgon about Resisting the Tories

June 26, 2022

I got this message from Jess Bernard yesterday about her conversation with Richard Burgon about resisting the Tories and defying Starmer’s command not to back the striking workers of the RMT. The message runs

A message from Jess Barnard.

GET INVOLVED: Retweet me here // Register here

As resistance to the Tories and their handling of the crisis grows – with massive support again for the RMT strike today – now is the time for the Left to come together, raise our game and meet the challenges ahead.

The stark choice we face is that we massively resist the Tory offensive, or everyone suffers – and that means the movement as a whole needs to go fully behind, and amplify the voices of, all those taking industrial action to protect their jobs and livelihoods.

And that means Labour MPs should stand with working people facing the massive Tory cost-of-living crisis, and not follow Keir Starmer’s anti-trade union edict.

On Wednesday June 29 I am pleased to be joining one of those MPs who is on the side of working people, and joined a RMT picket line this week, to discuss these issues our next steps as socialists and open the online Arise Festival (full details below.) Please join Richard Burgon, Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, & myself in conversation on the Crisis, Resistance & the Struggle for Socialism.
 

Yours in solidarity,

Jess Barnard, Young Labour Chair, on behalf of Arise Festival.

PS: Please tetweet me here to spread the word, and register here

I’m immensely impressed with Jess Bernard and Young Labour, and the way they’ve defied Starmer and his authoritarianism. And they’re absolutely right to support the RMT and defy Starmer again. The Labour party was founded by the trade unions and socialist societies and organisations partly in order to protect trade unions and their workers from legislation intended to limit them or render them powerless. Starmer should, as head of the Labour party, also be backing the RMT. The fact that he isn’t shows just how much of Tory infiltrator he is.

Not that this should surprise anyone. His hero Blair also threatened to cut the party’s ties with the unions if he didn’t get his way, and he also passed legislation designed to curb union power even further. It’s long past time Blairism was dumped and Starmer replaced by a proper, socialist, Labour leader.

Gay Pride and Socialist Solidarity Event at the Arise Festival of Left-Wing Ideas

June 26, 2022

I go this email below from the organisers of the forthcoming Arise Festival about an online event next Sunday celebrating and promoting gay and socialist solidarity.

LGBTQ+ Liberation – Pride, solidarity and socialism – Tune in at Arise Festival 

Premieres, Sunday July 3, 19.00. Register here // Retweet here // Get ticket for the whole festival here.

As the government turns to reactionary divide and rule politics in the face of a cost of living crisis, and as violent attacks on LGBTQ+ increase at an alarming rate, Amy Smith of Arise Festival meets in conversation with Mike Jackson (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) and Katherine Harlow (LGBTQ+ candidate on Young Labour’s Socialist Future slate) to discuss the way forward for LGBTQ+ liberation.

LGSM were at the forefront of providing solidarity to striking miners throughout the 84/85 strike. The NUM then led the 1985 Pride March and moved the motion supporting LGBT rights at Labour’s conference in the same year. We’ll be discussing what we can learn from that experience, the importance of Pride, and why solidarity and socialism must be at the heart of fighting for LGBTQ+ liberation.

An online event as part of Arise 2022 – A Festival of Left Ideas.

They’re absolutely right about the gay movement’s support for the miners. It’s the subject of a British film, Pride, which is set during the miners’ strike and is about gays and the striking miners coming together. I’m not aware that homophobic violence has increased, but it wouldn’t surprise me. There have been polls showing that for the first time, the present younger generation is less tolerant in this direction than its elders.

Some of this hatred might come from recent controversies from over the other side of the Pond. There has been considerable discussion and opposition to the nudity and kink at Pride marches over in America, as well as drag clubs hosting shows for children and the inclusion of LGBTQ* teaching to young children of nine and below in schools. There’s also increasing opposition to the drag queen story time events for children in public libraries. I gather that British Pride marches are somewhat different, but concerns about nudity and kink in public at an event which is promoted as child-friendly and suitable for children do seem to me to be entirely justified given some of the behaviour displayed by the marchers. This doesn’t mean banning the marches, though, or using it to promote homophobia. It should just mean getting the organisers and participants to clean up their act if they really want to be seen as suitable for children. Otherwise, regardless of the marches’ best intentions to promote tolerance across all ages, they should really be seen as for adults only.

I’ve also read criticism of Pride marches by gays, who say they’ve been put off them by the atmosphere that’s appeared there in recent years. They’ve written in various comments about Pride on right-leaning video channels discussing them that the marches have changed and aren’t what they once were. Some of these gay commenters find them now rather intimidating and corporate, as companies boast how they’re sponsoring them as a public relations exercise to show how tolerant and inclusive they are. They contrast this with the genuinely celebratory and subversive feeling there were about such marches back in the 80s and so on, when gays didn’t have the right to marry, were widely hated despite decriminalisation, and Thatcher wanted to ban the promotion of homosexuality in schools. As Thatcher was friends with Fascist monsters like Pinochet, it seemed all too credible that this would result in real, vicious persecution against gays that could see a return to them being imprisoned and worse.

Under Cameron, the Tories reversed their public stance against homosexuality and promoted openly gay candidates. But it does seem from the above message that they are trying to find ways to break the connection between the gay movement and the organised working class through stirring up anti-gay hatred.

My Video for Self-Published Book on a Parliamentary Chamber for the Workers

June 1, 2022

One of the great commenters on this blog paid me a wonderful compliment the other day by saying how great it would be if I put up a YouTube channel to combat some of the claims made by a certain internet historian. But as this particular individual puts up two a day, this would be too great a task. Now I did put up two YouTube channels under my own name, David Sivier. The first simply deals with replica musical instruments I’ve made for myself and cardboard models I’ve made of various archaeological monuments and artefacts. Unfortunately, I tried getting the channel to accept images from my mobile, with the result that it no longer recognises me as the channel’s owner and so I have been able to put up anything more on it. Hence the launch of the second David Sivier YouTube channel. I’ve put up a couple of pieces of music there, as well as some political stuff. I may also have put up political material on the first David Sivier channel. One of the videos I put up was for my self-published book arguing that as millionaires and the heads of companies now dominate parliament – about 77 per cent of MPs are businessmen – we should have a separate chamber composed of workers, elected by the workers. The book examines the idea from the 19th century Chartists, who set up their own ‘parliament of trades’ in one of their meetings, through the anarchists and Utopian socialists like Saint-Simon, the German council revolution of 1919, and the corporatism of Fascist Italy to the self-management experiment of the former Communist Yugoslavia, where the local councils had a chambers for the workers.

A few weeks ago I found a launch video for Red Line TV, a left-wing YouTube channel based on the left-wing Labour Briefing. It’s put up a number of videos discussing topics like women’s rights, racism and the trans issue. In the launch video, they were appealing for subjects to discuss and inviting people to come on. I fancied sending them a copy of the book and suggesting they might like to talk about that as something different, and as provocation to get Labour actually representing working people again. Unfortunately, There doesn’t seem to be anywhere on their site you make such suggestions or contact them, except to become a member. I did find something about contacting them elsewhere, but this seemed to be through Twitter, and I don’t have it and don’t want it. I’ve therefore stymied in that department. If there are any other left-wing vloggers who’d be interested n talking about it, let me know.

Anyway, here’s the video:

Left Labour Seminar on the Lessons to Be Learned from Welsh Labour

May 28, 2022

I also got this interesting piece of information yesterday from a message about their forthcoming events from the Labour Assembly against Austerity. The Socialist Campaign Group are organising a seminar on June 20th about what British socialists can learn from the successful, socialist policies of the Welsh Labour party. The snippet says

SCG SEMINAR: Learning from Welsh Labour’s Radical Agenda


Monday 20 June 2022, 7pm. Register here.


Beth Winter MP // Mick Antoniw MS, Welsh Government Counsel-General // Jack Sargeant MS, Chair, Senedd Petitions Committee // Sophie Howe, Welsh Future Generations Commissioner // Darren Williams, Welsh Labour Grassroots

The next SCG online Socialist Policy Forum will look at the lessons we can learn from Welsh Labour’s new radical plan for government – which is helping to build a country that serves the many, not the few. This radical agenda includes: setting up a publicly owned energy company ■ a free National Care Service ■ free school meals for all primary school pupils ■ plans for Net Zero by 2025 – 15 years ahead of the UK-wide 2050 target ■ a national construction company to increase the numbers of social housing ■ and a Basic Income pilot scheme for care leavers.

Come along and learn about these progressive polices and how they can help the wider Labour movement win enough support to kick the Tories out of Downing Street.

This meeting is part of a series of socialist policy events organised by the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs in partnership with the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and Momentum.

I’m fully behind this. Welsh Labour are doing – and doing very successfully – what the Labour party in the rest of this great nation should be doing, but isn’t. Because Starmer is too in love with Blair and his legacy. And I expect as a result conditions for ordinary people will improve as they worsen in England. So you can expect the Tories to start complaining about something or other in Wales, which is terribly unfair, in order to divert attention from the failures of Tory laissez-faire capitalism. That’s if Starmer doesn’t help them by finding some way to close Welsh Labour down.
 

Riley Claims Rowling Abused for Opposition to Anti-Semitism, Not Trans

May 23, 2022

I really do wonder what goes on in the mind of Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley. Yes, she’s another fanatical supporter of Israel who can’t tell the difference between anti-Zionism – which is opposition to an ideology – and anti-Semitism, which is simply racial hatred of Jews. But her hatred of anti-Zionists, or indeed, of any critic of Israel’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians, has now grown so fervent that sometimes she speaks utter nonsense. As when she accused the Durham Miner’s band of being some kind of SS Nazi organisation because they played Hava Nagila at the close of the miners’ gala, just as they did every year. Even a brief knowledge of real Fascism and Nazism is enough to dispel that. One of the first things Hitler did was smash the trade unions, replacing them with a much weaker, pro-management substitute, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. Mussolini tried to win over the established socialist trade unions after banning the socialist parties. When he couldn’t, he banned them and made it compulsory for Italian workers to join the Fascist trade unions. The black trade unions which formed part of the MSI, the Italian neo-Fascist party after the war, were anti-socialist and supplied blackleg labour during strikes. In Britain, the opposition to Oswald Mosley and the BUF included the Communists and trade unions, as well, of course, of self-respecting Jews and Irish. And Ken Livingstone, in his 1987 Livingstone’s Labour, describes how bog-standard, ordinary mineworkers and the unions objected to the employment of former Nazis by the Coal Board after they offered their services to British intelligence.

Examining some of her statements, I find myself using the same advice Private Eye gave its readers when reviewing the books written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s esteemed pater. You read it very carefully, and then turned it round 180o, and bingo! You’d reached the right conclusion.

Last week Riley raised her head to claim that J.K. Rowling had suffered horrendous abuse and vilification, not because she didn’t believe that transwomen were women, but because she was opposed to ‘Corbyn and anti-Semitism’. Well, it’s true that she did issue various statements over the net attacking Corbyn as an anti-Semite. She also accused Mike of being an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. All this told me is that, whatever her strengths as a novelist, she was credulous in this regard and believed everything she read in the papers.

Rowling has come under fire for many of her views. The anti-immigration Alex Belfield types attacked her for defending asylum-seekers and the channel migrants. They demanded that if she was that in favour of them, she should put a few up in her multi-million pound mansion. They can’t make the same accusation of Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, because he has indeed taken one of them in.

But most of the abuse Rowling’s suffered came from a tweet she made a few years ago, in which she told her trans readers that they should dress how they want, sleep with whoever would have them, live their best lives, but that transwomen weren’t women. Not a hateful statement at all, as far as I can see. But because of this she was immediately accused of hating transpeople and wanting to kill them. Since then there were moves to exclude her from the documentary marking 20 years since the Harry Potter movies, and trans activists telling the world to read her books but ignore the fact that she wrote them. In all of this, I haven’t seen any evidence of anti-Semitism from her trans critics and opponents. In fact, I don’t recall seeing any evidence of anti-Semitism from trans rights activists at all. Rather the opposite. Maria MacLachlan, who posts her gender critical videos on the Peak Trans channel on YouTube, has one in which she refutes the accusation that ‘TERFs’ – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists – are right-wing. Among the tweets she shows which make this accusation is one that says that ‘Terfs are Nazis, literal Nazis’. Which is utter nonsense. Many, if not most, gender critical feminists come from the radical left and are utterly opposed to racism, which includes anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. As for the trans rights activists, in all of their abuse I don’t think I’ve seen one that mentions Jews, let alone expresses anti-Semitism views. As far as I can make out, Rowling’s trans opponents are simply opposed to her refusal to accept their dogma that transwomen are women. And I have to say that her criticisms of Corbyn and the Labour were so long ago that I’d forgotten them until Riley reminded me of them.

Riley’s talking nonsense. I don’t know if she made this ridiculous accusation because her hatred of Corbyn has now become so intense and obsessive that he’s living rent-free in her head, or whether Starmer’s position as head of the Labour party is now so shaky that she’s somehow afraid Corbyn will come back. But she’s talking arrant bilge regardless, bilge which deserves to be refuted along with her other prejudiced statements about the Labour left.

Attila the Stockbroker Performs the Levellers March and the Diggers Song

May 14, 2022

More radical songs for you to enjoy. This is another piece by left-wing pop musician Attila the Stockbroker, from dprkspacemarine’s channel on YouTube in a homage to two of the radical sects of the British Civil War. The Levellers were a radical group that demanded an extension of the franchise to the male heads of households, as well as state-supported schools, hospitals and almshouses. Naturally, they were far too radical for Oliver Cromwell and were duly suppressed after attempting an uprising in May 1649. However, their influence still remains in the Labour party as part of the continuing British radical tradition, though I can imagine Starmer, Reeves and the rest of them trying to play this part of British radical history down. Mustn’t frighten all those Thatcherites they want to appeal to. I gather from reading the comments that the Leveller’s March was originally composed and performed by Leon Rosselson, another radical folkie.

The Diggers were communists, who occupied the wasteland at St. George’s Hill in Surrey, declaring that it was now under their communal ownership and would now be cultivated by them, on 1st April 1649. They were harassed by Cromwell and the local landlords, but managed to last two years before finally fizzling out in 1651. They were supported by Gerard Winstanley, who wrote a number of pieces defending them. One is the song performed by Attila, while another was his pamphlet A New Yeere’s Gift. Attila goes from the Diggers’ Song itself to a modern song about the Digger movement, which explains who they were. This may give the impression that they were atheists, but I don’t think this was the case. Winstanley was a heretical Christian and the impression is that their socially radical views came from their religious beliefs, in which they felt that private property contravened the true spirit of Christ.

Nearly a year ago now I posted this video of myself trying to play the Digger’s Song. Unfortunately I hadn’t heard it performed at the time, and the music and the text of the song were printed separately. I thus just played the music without singing the lyrics, and then recited the lyrics afterwards. It’s not the best performance, but I hope you enjoy it.

New Politics’ Review of Frank Wolff’s History of the Russian/Polish Jewish Bund

May 11, 2022

I went on Google the other night to see if there were any books available on the history of the Bund, the majority Jewish socialist party of the former Russian empire and later Poland. I doubt very many people know about it apart from historians of the Jewish communities in those countries. I was therefore surprised to find that there are quite a few, in both English and Yiddish. However, one of the most informative and concise summaries of the Bund’s history is in Marvin S. Zuckerman’s review, ‘The Soul of the Bund’, of Frank Wolff’s Yiddish Revolutionaries in Migration: The Transnational History of the Jewish Labour Bund  translated by Loren Balhorn and Jan-Peter Herrmann, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2022, paperback, 532 pp in New Politics, a magazine for the democratic Left. The review begins with a quote from Wolff’s book from Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who describes how the discovered the history of the Bund through a book about Marek Edelman, a member of the Bund and hero of the Warsaw uprising. In the book, Edelman talks about the Bund, and Cohn-Bendit states that both the Stalinists and Zionists have tried to erase it from memory. Then the review continues thus:

‘Books and monographs have been published about the Bund, in Yiddish and English, German and Polish, and in other languages. Nevertheless, Cohn-Bendit’s remarks remain relevant. To fill the still-existing broad gap in  knowledge of the Bund, before describing Frank Wolff’s book about the Bund, here are some facts that will give some notion of the “forgotten history” of the Bund.

The Bund was the first modern Jewish political party in the Russian Empire, as well as the largest social democratic movement in the entire empire. On the eve of the Second World War, it was also the strongest Jewish party in Poland.

In its early years (it was founded in 1897) the Bund achieved considerable success, attracting 40,000 supporters by 1906, making it the largest socialist group in the Russian Empire. From mid-1903 to mid-1904 the Bund held 429 political meetings, 45 demonstrations, and 41 political strikes; it issued 305 pamphlets, of which 23 dealt with the pogroms and self-defense. In 1904 the number of Bundist political prisoners reached 4,500.

In the 1930s, one hundred thousand Jewish workers belonged to Bundist unions, meaning that one-quarter of all unionized workers in Poland were led by the Bund, giving them enormous power. The Bund held the overwhelming majority in the national council of Jewish Trade Unions, which, at the end of 1921, comprised seven unions with 205 branches, and 46,000 members, and, in 1939, 14 unions with 498 branches and approximately 99,000 members.

Together with the left Labor Zionists, the Bund administered a network of secular Yiddish schools. At its peak, in the late 1920s, its TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye or Central Yiddish School Organization) maintained 219 institutions with 24,000 students, spread across 100 locations, including 467 kindergartens, 114 elementary schools, 6 high schools, 52 evening schools, and a pedagogical institute in Vilnius.

The Bund also maintained a youth organization, Tsukunft, which numbered 15,000 members on the eve of WW II, and a children’s organization, SKIF, blending scout activities, sports events, and politics; a women’s organization, YAF; and a sports organization, Morgnshtern, the largest such organization in all of Poland, Jewish or Polish.

In 1938, in the municipal elections in 89 Polish cities and towns, the Bund won 55% of the votes cast, more than all the other Jewish parties put together. The Bund thus became communal spokesmen and aggressive advocates of financial aid to all Jewish institutions, including yeshivas and religious institutions.

Most importantly, and as it relates to Frank Wolff’s book, being a member of the Bund meant you lived your life through the Bund—it was your union, your education, your church.’

The review then goes on to describe how the Bund was at the forefront of resistance to the Holocaust, and as Social Democrats, who believed in establishing socialism democratically, they were firmly opposed to the Communists. It also describes their attitude and struggle with the Zionists:

‘The Bund struggled with the Zionist movement for the hearts and minds of the Polish Jews. Looking back, one wonders how the Bund could have maintained that “There where we live (and have lived for hundreds of years), that is our country.” One forgets how chimerical the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine was. Herzl’s dictum that Palestine was “A land without people for a people without a land” was simply not true. Palestine was peopled by over 1 million Palestinians. In 1914, for example, Palestine’s non-Jews outnumbered Jews by 8 to 1.

The Bund argued that 3.2 million Polish Jews, and the other millions in Eastern Europe, would not pull up and move to Palestine. In any case, the Turks, and later the British, were not permitting Jews to enter. The practical and immediate thing to do was for the Jews in their millions to fight for their civil rights and for social democracy in the lands in which they were living, not dream of emigrating to Palestine.

It is tragically true that annihilation was the fate that befell the Polish and other East European Jews, but that same fate would have befallen the Jews of Palestine if the British army had not stopped the advance eastward of the German army with the British victory at El Alamein, Egypt. The Yishuv in Palestine would have been exterminated and with it would have perished the dream of a Jewish state in Palestine.’

The review describes the book as a social and cultural history, describing the Bund’s tactics in reaching the Jewish masses on one hand and fighting for their civil rights, against their exploitation and attacks on them by real anti-Semites. After the party’s suppression in Poland, the book follows its members as they emigrated abroad to New York and Buenos Aires.

But the Bund, although now long gone as an organisation, still exerts a powerful influence. There’s a quote from the book about Daniel Katz’s analysis of Bernie Sanders first run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Katz believed that Bernie was motivated not just by socialism – he was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but specifically Yiddish socialism and its tradition of fighting oppression, and especially Bund’s transnational appeal. It was this tradition that was able to enthuse and inspire millions of young Americans. The quote concludes

‘The history of the Bund as a party may have come to an end, but the effects of it cultural and political work and their unifying humanitarian yet activist spirit described here continue to matter today.’

The full review can be read at: https://newpol.org/review_of_yiddish_revolutionaries_in_migration/?msclkid=37292abbd14d11ecacf172187342a816

Bernie would have been an awesome president, and broken the mould of American politics. He genuinely seemed to understand and care about the real problems of American working people. During one of his campaign rallies in a southern community, he was approached by a woman in tears wondering how she was going to support her family. Bernie comforted her as she poured our her concerns. One supportive commenter pointed out how amazing it was that a secular Jew from the north could reach out and appeal to a southern Christian. But that’s because he genuinely championed them against the corporatist political establishment.

It’s a massive shame that Bernie didn’t win, just like Jeremy Corbyn lost over here. Because the two of them in power together would have transformed British and American politics for the better.

YouTube Video of 1 Hour of Music from the Israeli Communist Party

May 11, 2022

Okay, I’ve put up a number of videos over the past few days as well as articles about songs in Yiddish from the Polish and Russian Jewish Bund, the mass socialist party for Jews in those countries. This was to make the point that it was the Bund that had the majority support of those nation’s Jewish populations, not the Zionists, contrary to the claims of today’s Israel lobby. And as the song in ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’ makes very clear, the Bund did indeed very powerfully reject Zionism in favour winning equal rights for Jews in the countries of their birth and fighting for the emancipation of Jewish working people as part of the international workers’ movement.

Going through YouTube the other day I found a video of an hour of Israeli Communist anthems in Hebrew. This is another video I’m not going to put up, because I think an hour of Communist music, whether in English, Hebrew, or whatever would be too much for most people. But the thumbnail to the video’s interesting because of what it shows of the party’s attitude to the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians. It has the slogan ‘Stop the War: End the Occupation’ and the comments are from both Israelis and Arabs who are united in opposing the Israeli state’s decades-long programme of ethnic cleansing. Among the comments there’s this remark from JCSurge that makes the Jewish rejection of the anti-Arab persecution very clear: ‘

We, the Jewish people, did not toil, and suffer oppression for thousands of years to become the oppressor! We did not work so hard to establish a state that keeps our brothers [Palestinians] occupied in second-class conditions. This is not the work of which millions of Jews have died in vain for. Hativah L-Komunitzim b-Israel!’

And a gent from Lebanon, whose monicker is in the Arabic script so I can’t read it, posted:

‘As a Lebanese Arab im happy to see some Israelis wanting to unite with palestinian arabs under socialist rule’.

If you can speak Hebrew and want to watch it, or simply want to do so anyway, the video’s title is One Hour of Hebrew Communist Music, and it’s on the GETchan channel on YouTube.

On the 120th Anniversary Performance of the Bundist Song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’

May 10, 2022

There’s a fascinating video on YouTube of the performance by Jewish radical musicians Daniel Kahn and Psoy Korolenko of the Bundist song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’. It was sent over the internet to the Melbourne Bund as part of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Bund, the mass Russian and Polish Jewish socialist party in 1897. Korolenko sings it in three languages, Yiddish, English and Russian. It’s militantly socialist and stridently attacks the rich and Zionism in no uncertain terms.

It begins with the tears of the Jews running into the sea, but the tears of the rich are clear, while those of the poor are bloody. It also sings about Jews and gentiles marching together are comrades in their shared homelands. As for Zionism, it says that the call for Jews to return to Israel is what they’ve heard from the priests. It’s just putting Jews back into another ghetto. The Zionists are concerned with the Jewish people’s fathers in their grave, but have no concerns for the present generation. But there’s a new messiah – the working man, who will transform the world.

It’s a great song which makes the Bund’s anti-Zionism very clear, preformed by too excellent musicians. It also adds further weight to the amount of historical scholarship showing that it was the secular Bund that represented the majority Jewish opinion in Poland and eastern Europe before the Second World War, and not Zionism. That said, I have issues with it that prevent me from putting the video up on this blog. I’m an Anglican Christian, but I found the rejection of the Jewish hope for the Messiah actually shocking and blasphemous. And if it shocks a gentile like me, I wonder how offensive it must be to religious Jews. I also realise that many religious Jews, even some Israelis, are critical of Israel or just disgusted at its treatment of the Palestinians. I’ve blogged before now of Haredi and other very Orthodox Jews, who believe their religious duty is remain in the countries to which Jews have been scattered, until Israel is redeemed by the Messiah. I understand from one of the Jewish anti-Zionist bloggers that one former Chief Rabbi held that view. When he was asked whether the redemption of Israel then would have the same result in the removal of the Palestinians, he replied that under the Messiah it would be done peacefully through negotiation. There are Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem that are under attack from the right-wing Israeli establishment because they criticise their country for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I also remember the way Israeli nationalists attacked and vilified a group of liberal Israelis because they said the kadish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over a dying Palestinian who’d been shot by the IDF. The song interests me as a historical artefact and as part of an alternative tradition of Jewish radicalism that still holds a place in current Jewish society.

But I don’t feel I can put it up on this blog because I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

My issue is with the Israel lobby and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and with the way Zionist groups are trying to rewrite history so that only they appear as the true champions and expression of Jewish political aspirations, and definitely not with Jews or Judaism.

If you want to see the video for yourself, it’s on the Bund Melbourne channel on YouTube, and has the Yiddish title of ‘In Zaltsikn Yam – Bund 120 Yoyvl 2017’.

The Anthems of the Bund and their Youth Section

May 9, 2022

Sorry I haven’t posted anything over the last day or so. I had the fourth covid booster jab on Saturday and it’s left me very weak and more than a bit fluey. But I am reading the very relevant discussion in the comments section about getting rid of the Tories and whether that would achieve anything, when Starmer’s Labour is doing its level best to be exactly the same or worse.

Now more music from the Bund, the Russian/Polish Jewish socialist party that strenuously rejected Zionism in favour of the emancipation of Jewish working people in their present homelands. I found this version of Di Shvue – the Oath – on the Towarzsyszsekretarz channel on YouTube. The blurb for the song says that it was written by S. An-sky in 1902, and performed by Zahava Seewald. It also has the song’s lyrics in Yiddish and English. The English translation goes

The Oath

Brothers and sisters in toil and struggle

All who are dispersed far and wide

Come together, the flag is ready

It waves in anger, it is red with blood!

Swear an oath of life and death!

Heaven and earth will hear us,

The light stars will bear witness.

An oath of blood, an oath of tears,

We swear, we swear, we swear!

We swear an endless loyalty to the Bund.

Only it can free the slaves now.

The red flag is high and wide.

It waves in anger,

it is red with blood!

Swear an oath of life and death!

The Bund and its anthem, although long gone, evidently have real meaning for many Jews, as shown by the comments. Adam13weishaupt posted ‘As a young girl in tsarist Russia, in Smorgon (near the Lithuanian-Belarus border), my late grandmother sang this song at Bund gatherings held secretly at night in the forest.’ And Cisza01 said ‘We should never forget about Jewish socialists from BUND’

The Youth Anthem was posted by Jack Ross on his channel on YouTube. The blurb for it simply reads ‘Performed by the Workmen’s Circle chorus, a tribute to past and future radical Jewish youth.’ Ross himself is an historian of the Bund, having written a book on its history between the First and Second World Wars. The final image shows Jewish gay rights marchers waving a flag containing the rainbow and the Star of David. I think Miriam Margolyes would approve, as she’s gay and supports a Jewish organisation, Gay Y*ds, set up to tackle homophobia in the Jewish community.