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|Jewish Labour Bund|
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Bundism was a secular Jewish socialist movement whose organizational manifestation was the General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia (Yiddish : אַלגעמײַנער ײדישער אַרבעטער בּונד אין ליטע פוילין און רוסלאַנד, romanized: Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Liteh, Poyln un Rusland), founded in the Russian Empire in 1897.
The Jewish Labour Bund was an important component of the social democratic movement in the Russian empire until the 1917 Russian Revolution; the Bundists initially opposed the October Revolution, but ended up supporting it due to pogroms committed by the Volunteer Army of the anti-communist White movement during the Russian Civil War. Split along communist and social democratic lines throughout the Civil War, a faction supported the Soviet government and eventually was absorbed by the Communist Party.
Bundist movement continued to exist as a political party in independent Poland in the interwar period as the General Jewish Labour Bund in Poland, becoming a major, if not the major, political force within Polish Jewry. Bundists were active in the anti-Nazi struggle, and many of its members were murdered during the Holocaust.
After the war, the International Jewish Labor Bund, more properly the "World Coordinating Council of the Jewish Labor Bund", was founded in New York, with affiliated groups in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.
While the Jewish Labour Bund was a trade union as well as a political party, its initial purpose was the organisation of the Jewish proletariat in Russia, Poland and Lithuania.
A staunchly secular party, the Jewish Labour Bund took part in kehillot elections in Poland.
The Jewish Labour Bund, while not initially interested in Yiddish per se as anything more than a vehicle to exhort the masses of Jewish workers in Eastern Europe, soon saw the language and the larger Yiddish culture as a value and promoted the use of Yiddish as a Jewish national language in its own right;to some extent, the promotion of Yiddish was part and parcel of the Bund's opposition to the Zionist movement, and its project of reviving Hebrew.
The concept of Doikayt (lit. "hereness", Yiddish = do-ikayt, do'ikayt; German = Da-keit; French = "ici-té") was central to the Bundist ideology, expressing its focus on solving the challenges confronting Jews in the country in which they lived, versus the "thereness" of the Zionist movement, which posited the necessity of an independent Jewish polity in its ancestral homeland, i.e., the Land of Israel, to secure Jewish life.
The Jewish Labour Bund did not advocate ethnic or religious separatism, but focused on culture, not a state or a place, as the glue of Jewish nationhood, within the context of a world of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic countries. In this the Bundists borrowed extensively from the Austro-Marxist concept of national personal autonomy; this approach alienated the Bolsheviks and Lenin, who were derisive of and politically opposed to Bundism.
In a 1904 text, Social democracy and the national question, Vladimir Medem exposed his version of this concept:
"Let us consider the case of a country composed of several national groups, e.g. Poles, Lithuanians and Jews. Each national group would create a separate movement. All citizens belonging to a given national group would join a special organisation that would hold cultural assemblies in each region and a general cultural assembly for the whole country. The assemblies would be given financial powers of their own: either each national group would be entitled to raise taxes on its members, or the state would allocate a proportion of its overall budget to each of them. Every citizen of the state would belong to one of the national groups, but the question of which national movement to join would be a matter of personal choice and no authority would have any control over his decision. The national movements would be subject to the general legislation of the state, but in their own areas of responsibility they would be autonomous and none of them would have the right to interfere in the affairs of the others".
The Jewish Labour Bund, as an organization, was formed at the same time as the World Zionist Organization. The Bund eventually came to strongly oppose Zionism,arguing that immigration to Palestine was a form of escapism. After the 1936 Warsaw kehilla elections, Henryk Ehrlich accused Zionist leaders Yitzhak Gruenbaum and Ze'ev Jabotinsky of being responsible for recent anti-Semitic agitation in Poland by their campaign urging Jewish emigration.
The Bund was against the UNGA vote on the partition of Palestine and reaffirmed its support for a country under the control of superpowers and the UN. The 1948 New York Second World Conference of the International Jewish Labor Bund condemned the proclamation of the Zionist state. The conference was in favour of a two nations’ state built on the base of national equality and democratic federalism.
A branch of the Jewish Labour Bund was created in Israel in 1951, the Arbeter-ring in Yisroel – Brith Haavoda, which even took part in the 1959 Knesset elections, with a very low electoral result. Its publication, Lebns Fregyn, is still being published as of 2014. It is one of the relatively few left-wing Yiddish-language publications in existence.
The 1955 Montreal 3rd World Conference of the International Jewish Labor Bund decided that the creation of the Jewish state was an important event in Jewish history that might play a positive role in Jewish life, but felt that a few necessary changes were needed. The conference participants demanded that:
- a) the authorities of Israel should treat the state as property of the Jews of the world;
- b) but it would mean that the affairs of the Jewish community in Israel should be subordinate to those of world Jewry.
- c) the policy of the state of Israel would be the same toward all citizens regardless of their nationalities.
- d) Israel should foster peace with the Arabs. This required halting territorial expansion and resolving the Palestinian refugee problem.
- e) Yiddish should be taught at all educational institutions and would be promoted in public life.
The World Coordinating Council of the Jewish Labour Bund was quietly disbanded by a number of Bundists and representatives of related organizations, including the Workmen's Circle and the Congress for Jewish Culture in the early 2000s.
The London-based Jewish Socialists' Group, which publishes the magazine Jewish Socialist, considers itself an heir of the historic Jewish Labour Bund. Furthermore, the early 21st-century has witnessed a revival in the ideas of the Bund (sometimes called "neo-Bundism").
Today we are witnessing a revival of the ideas of the Jewish Labor Bund, an organization which had been a powerful force in Russian and Polish Jewish communities during the first half of the 20th century. The Bund focused on doikayt (“hereness”), libertarian socialism, and support for secular Jewish culture and the Yiddish language. The activity of those with this new interest, sometimes called "neo-Bundism," alongside those with unbroken links to prewar Bundists, has led to a new visibility of interest in Bundist ideas in both political and cultural circles. And because Bundism offers an alternate historical vision of Jewish identity to Zionism, this development is sometimes a controversial one.
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside the Jewish community. From the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans to the foundation of Israel the Jewish people had no territory, and, until the 19th century they by-and-large were also denied equal rights in the countries in which they lived. Thus, until the 19th century effort for the emancipation of the Jews, almost all Jewish political struggles were internal, and dealt primarily with either religious issues or issues of a particular Jewish community.
The Folkspartei was founded after the 1905 pogroms in the Russian Empire by Simon Dubnow and Israel Efrojkin. The party took part in several elections in Poland and Lithuania in the 1920s and 1930s and did not survive the Holocaust.
Mikhail Isaakovich Liber, sometimes known as Mark Liber, was a leader of the General Jewish Workers' Union. He also played a role in the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP) and was a leading figure among the Mensheviks. Liber was instrumental in the soviets during the February Revolution of 1917 but opposed to October Revolution. He was reportedly shot during the Purges. Liber played a defining role in the development of the Bund and helped shaped the policies of the leaders of the February Revolution.
Zionist-Socialist Workers Party, often referred to simply as Zionist-Socialists or S.S. by their Russian initials, was a Jewish territorialist and socialist political party in the Russian Empire and Poland, that emerged from the Vozrozhdenie (Renaissance) group in 1904. The party held its founding conference in Odessa in 1905.
The Social Democratic Bund, or the General Jewish Labour Bund, the Bund (S.D.) or, later, the "Bund" in the Soviet Union, was a short-lived Jewish political party in Soviet Russia. It was formed as the Russian Bund was split at its conference in Gomel in April 1920. The Social Democratic Bund was formed out of the right-wing minority section of the erstwhile Russian Bund. The party was led by Raphael Abramovitch. After 1923, it continued to exist in exile.
The General Jewish Labour Bund in Romania was a Jewish socialist party in Romania, adhering to the political line of the General Jewish Labour Bund. Founded in 1922, shortly after the establishment of Greater Romania, it united Jewish socialists in Bukovina, Bessarabia and the Romanian Old Kingdom. Standing for the lay wing of the Jewish representative movement, the Romanian Bund had atheistic leanings and offered an alternative to the mainstream Jewish organization. Like other Bundist groups, but unlike the Marxist-inspired Poale Zion bodies of Bessarabia, it rejected Zionism.
Vladimir Davidovich Medem, né Grinberg, was a Russian Jewish politician and ideologue of the Jewish Labour Bund. The Medem library in Paris, the largest European Yiddish institution, bears his name.
The Arbeter-ring in Yisroel – Brith Haavoda was the Israeli branch of the International Jewish Labor Bund, launched in 1951 and disbanded in 2019.
The Independent Jewish Workers Party was a Jewish political party in Russia. The party was founded in 1901 on the initiative of Sergei Zubatov, the head of the Tsarist secret police. Zubatov had been impressed by the growth of the General Jewish Labour Bund, a clandestine Jewish socialist party. The Independent Jewish Workers Party was intended to counter the influence of the Bund, mobilizing Tsarist loyalty among Jewish workers. The party argued that Jewish workers would benefit economically from Tsarist rule, as long as they stayed aloof of political protests. Its followers were nicknamed Zubatovchikes.
The "Bund" in Latvia was a Jewish socialist party in Latvia between the two World Wars, adhering to the political line of the General Jewish Labour Bund.
The General Jewish Labour Bund in Poland was a Jewish socialist party in Poland which promoted the political, cultural and social autonomy of Jewish workers, sought to combat antisemitism and was generally opposed to Zionism.
Klain Bund was a youth organization in the Russian empire, connected to the General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia. Klain Bund was founded in 1903.
The Austromarxist principle of national personal autonomy, developed by Otto Bauer in his 1907 book Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie was seen by him a way of gathering the geographically divided members of the same nation to "organize nations not in territorial bodies but in simple association of persons", thus radically disjoining the nation from the territory and making of the nation a non-territorial association. The other ideological founders of the concept were another Austromarxist, Karl Renner, in his 1899 essay Staat und Nation, and the Jewish Labour Bundist Vladimir Medem, in his 1904 essay Di sotsial-demokratie un di natsionale frage.
The International Jewish Labor Bund was a New York-based international Jewish socialist organization, based on the legacy of the General Jewish Labour Bund founded in the Russian empire in 1897 and the Polish Bund that was active in the interwar years. The IJLB is composed by local Bundist groups around the world. It was an "associated organisation" of the Socialist International, similar in status to the World Labour Zionist Movement or the International League of Religious Socialists. The World Coordinating Council/Committee of the Jewish Labor Bund was dissolved in New York in the mid-2000s., although local Bundist groups or groups inspired by the Jewish Labor Bund still exist in France, the UK, Australia and the State of Israel.
The Jewish left consists of Jews who identify with, or support, left-wing or left-liberal causes, consciously as Jews, either as individuals or through organizations. There is no one organization or movement which constitutes the Jewish left, however. Jews have been major forces in the history of the labor movement, the settlement house movement, the women's rights movement, anti-racist and anti-colonialist work, and anti-fascist and anti-capitalist organizations of many forms in Europe, the United States, Algeria, Iraq, Ethiopia, and modern-day Israel. Jews have a rich history of involvement in anarchism, socialism, Marxism, and Western liberalism. Although the expression "on the left" covers a range of politics, many well-known figures "on the left" have been of Jews who were born into Jewish families and have various degrees of connection to Jewish communities, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, or the Jewish religion in its many variants.
Poale Zion was a movement of Marxist–Zionist Jewish workers founded in various cities of Poland, Europe and the Russian Empire in about the turn of the 20th century after the Bund rejected Zionism in 1901.
Labor Zionism or socialist Zionism is the left-wing of the Zionist movement. For many years, it was the most significant tendency among Zionists and Zionist organizations. It saw itself as the Zionist sector of the historic Jewish labor movements of Eastern and Central Europe, eventually developing local units in most countries with sizable Jewish populations. Unlike the "political Zionist" tendency founded by Theodor Herzl and advocated by Chaim Weizmann, Labor Zionists did not believe that a Jewish state would be created simply by appealing to the international community or to a powerful nation such as Britain, Germany or the Ottoman Empire. Rather, Labor Zionists believed that a Jewish state could only be created through the efforts of the Jewish working class settling in the Land of Israel and constructing a state through the creation of a Labor Jewish society with rural kibbutzim and moshavim and an urban Jewish proletariat.
The Communist Union of Bielorussia and Lithuania was a short-lived Jewish communist organization in Bielorussia. It was founded as the Jewish Communist Party in Bielorussia on January 19, 1919. The Jewish Communist Party of Bielorussia functioned as an autonomous unit of the Communist Party (bolsheviks) of Bielorussia.
The General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia, generally called The Bund or the Jewish Labour Bund, was a secular Jewish socialist party initially formed in the Russian Empire and active between 1897 and 1920. In 1917 the Polish part of the Bund, which dated to the times when Poland was a Russian territory, seceded from the Russian Bund and created a new Polish General Jewish Labour Bund which continued to operate in Poland in the years between the two world wars. The majority faction of the Russian Bund was dissolved in 1921 and incorporated into the Communist Party. Other remnants of the Bund endured in various countries. A member of the Bund was called a Bundist.
Pesach Liebmann Hersch, also Liebman Hersh, was a professor of demography and statistics at the University of Geneva, and an intellectual of the Jewish Labor Bund, whose pioneering work on Jewish migration achieved international recognition in the period after the First World War.