This is an extremely valuable collection of essays on a topic crucial to the study of modern Jewish history: the hotly debated, highly distinct political philosophies of Bundism and Zionism. . . . A sophisticated yet accessible treatment of prewar Jewish politics.
The Emergence of Modern Jewish Politics examines the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Zionism and Bundism, the two major political movements among East European Jews during the first half of the twentieth century.
While Zionism achieved its primary aim—the founding of a Jewish state—the Jewish Labor Bund has not only practically disappeared, but its ideals of socialism and secular Jewishness based in the diaspora seem to have failed. Yet, as Zvi Gitelman and the various contributors argue, it was the Bund that more profoundly changed the structure of Jewish society, politics, and culture.
In thirteen essays, prominent historians, political scientists, and professors of literature discuss the cultural and political contexts of these movements, their impact on Jewish life, and the reasons for the Bund’s demise, and they question whether ethnic minorities are best served by highly ideological or solidly pragmatic movements.
Explores the impact of Jewish politics not only on the physical security and material welfare of Jewish communities but on Jewish cultural life as well.
Represents a long overdue attempt to set the record straight by providing a more balanced assessment of the relative strength of each movement and its contributions to the formation of modern Jewish politics.
Expertly edited. . . . The contributors' attention to the interconnectedness and interaction of widely disparate and yet related phenomena is truly impressive historiographically. . . . Indeed, this book is one of those rare publications that delivers more than it promises.
One of the strengths of this book is its salient reminder that Jews did not, in fact, live in a bi-polar ideological world. . . . A focused and well-integrated collection that is a 'must read' for all those with an interest in modern Jewish experience.
Zvi Gitelman, professor of political science and Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, is the author of A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present.