“Against Zionism, For Socialism”

A group of activists stand in front of an air base with a banner that reads "Not in Our Name The Blood Is On Your Hands"
How the Jewish Labor Bund Organized

By Molly Crabapple

Art by Anya Levy

I’ve spent the last few years neck-deep in archives, researching a book on the Jewish Labor Bund. The Bund was a socialist, secular, and revolutionary Jewish party founded in 1897 in Tsarist Russia that grew to be the most popular Jewish party in interwar Poland. It was anti-Zionist to its bones. Born in perhaps the most antisemitic empire on earth, the Bund believed that Jewish workers were oppressed both for their ethnicity and their class. Over the first 50 years of their existence, they resembled a sort of proto-Black Panthers, combining armed self-defense, Marxist solidarity, mutual aid, and the swaggering uplift of their own racialized and subaltern culture. They unionized sweatshops. They tangled with religious fanatics in their own community. They were champions of Yiddish, the language of the working-class Jewish street, promoting it through a network of schools, libraries, and choirs they created. They fought evictions and published radical newspapers, and when Polish racists tried to force Jews from the country, the Bund’s militias fought them with brass knuckles and iron bars.

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