Russian Radicals and Jews
To the Editor:
In his review (October) of The Zionist Idea, edited by Arthur Hertzberg, Milton Himmelfarb traces the origin of the nationalism of many Russian Jews to two events: (I) “. . . the silence or approval or even participation of enlightened and educated Russians, including Populists” with regard to “the pogroms that followed Alexander II’s assassination,” and (2) the fact that “much of the same sort of thing happened after the Kishinev pogrom in 1903, which many Russian radicals welcomed as a wholesome sign that the peasants were at last expressing their discontent in action.”
Now the fact is that in 1882, after the execution of the outstanding representatives of the “People’s Will,” some members of that party actually thought that the masses, once aroused against the Jews, would go further and turn their fury against their Czarist masters as well. But it is not correct to say that the same thing happened twenty years later, after the Kishinev pogrom. I have followed Russian revolutionary publications since 1901 and nowhere did I ever find a trace of approval of pogroms on the part of any revolutionary group—whether Marxist, Populist, or Anarchist. Some workers, barely touched by radical propaganda, might have participated for the sake of loot, but this was never approved by the educated radical elements.
There were, no doubt, revolutionists of the greatest renown, such as Marx and Bakunin, who occasionally made remarks about the Jews of which their followers are now ashamed, but this had nothing to do with the specific fact of the Kishinev pogrom.
New York City