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The Bund at 120

A CONFERENCE REPORT by Bennett Muraskin Illustration by Aharon Varady TWENTY YEARS AGO, in honor of the centennial of the Jewish Labor Bund, a day-long conference took place in New York City. Among the speakers were a surviving Bundist leader, Motl Zelmanowicz, and a prominent historian of European Jewry and the left, Abraham Brumberg. Other speakers […]

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More about Marxism: Time to Give Up the Ghost

by Bennett Muraskin   To read Sam Friedman’s recent “Why I’m (Still) a Marxist” in Jewish Currents, click here. To read Lawrence Bush’s “Why I’m Not (Still) a Marxist,” click here. To read about Jewish Currents’ communist history, click here.   IS THERE any precedent in world history for a successful socialist economy? Every place that it was […]

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Mishegos and Mayhem in the Yiddish Press

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: Bad Rabbi and Other Strange But True Stories From the Yiddish Press, by Eddy Portnoy. Stanford University Press, 2017, 264 pages.    EDDY PORTNOY, a senior researcher and director at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, who knows Yiddish as well as anyone in his field (and has unearthed such forgotten […]

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Some Religious Roots of Jewish Humor

by Bennett Muraskin No matter how bad things get, you’ve got to go on living, even if it kills you. —Sholem Aleichem   THE STEREOTYPE of the funny Jew is relatively new. Traditionally, Jews were the butt of antisemitic jokes. Among themselves they made fun of the gentiles, but it was far too dangerous to take that […]

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Free Palestine?

by Bennett Muraskin At the convention of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in Chicago this month, a resolution was adopted calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Its passage was accompanied by chants of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The resolution declares its “solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s non-violent struggle […]

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The Rightwing Specter

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age, by James Kirchick. Yale University Press, 2017, 288 pages, indexed.   A SPECTER is haunting Europe, but it sure as hell isn’t communism. It is rightwing nationalist populism. Its targets are the European Union, globalization of capital, and immigration. If […]

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American Resistance to World War I

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: War against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918, by Michael Kazin. Simon and Schuster, 2017, 400 pages. THE UNITED STATES did not enter World War I until April 1917, over two and a half years after the war began. If the militaristic Theodore Roosevelt had won the presidency in 1912 (he came […]

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In Memoriam: Irwin Corey

by Bennett Muraskin “THE WORLD’S FOREMOST AUTHORITY,” Irwin Corey, has died at the ripe old age of 102. His shtik was to impersonate a professor spouting intellectual gibberish. He typically started his shpil with “However,” and, after a barrage of wordy non-sequiturs, ended it by asking “What was the question?” Typically in the course of […]

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