by Sai Englert
A continent with moving borders now disappeared, a culture buried under the ashes and so many struggles for the emancipation of humankind hidden by the defenders of a victimising history.
I was sold. ‘This collection aims to make the multiple voices of the Yiddishland resonate and to share its living memory.’ The book’s title, Revolutionary Yiddishland, had already caught my attention.
It was the late noughties, and French publisher Syllepse had reprinted the book as part of its Yiddishland series, edited by David Forest. Its impact on me was immense. I devoured it and the following volumes; my political horizons radically expanded. Not only, I came to realise, was there no contradiction between Judaism, socialism and internationalism, but, until the Nazi genocide, they existed in a profoundly interrelated way. Not only was it possible to be a Jewish anti-Zionist without being a ‘self-hater’, but until the rise of fascism in Europe, anti-Zionism was the default position of the majority of the Ashkenazi Jewish masses. And not only had the Jews not been passive victims of history, they had in many instances been at the forefront of the struggle for its radical transformation.
I was ecstatic.More