Wistrich on ‘the Left, the Jews and Israel’

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Reprinted from the Jerusalem Post. 

Robert Wistrich, Hebrew University professor of European and Jewish History and director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism, has just published his 29th book titled From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews and Israel.

It is an impressive tome of over 600 pages and follows his monumental seminal work A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, published in 2010 and now recognized as the definitive work on the world’s oldest hatred, and an indispensable text for scholars.

In a fascinating preface to his new book, Wistrich provides a brief autobiographical sketch. His father had originally been a supporter of the illegal Polish Communist Party in pre-war Krakow but became alienated from Stalinist communism after being arrested by the NKVD. He and his wife, who had experienced bitter Polish anti-Semitism, survived the Holocaust by fleeing to Kazakhstan, where Wistrich was born.

He was educated in England, and to use his words, was “radicalized” in grammar school and later at Stanford University. He first visited Israel in 1961, returning in 1969 when he was appointed editor of the left-wing Israeli journal, New Outlook. However his passion for the Jewish state led to a parting of the ways with the Israeli far left.

Robert became increasingly engaged in academic scholarship related to anti- Semitism, received a senior appointment at the Hebrew University, and is now recognized as the world’s foremost scholar in the field.

From Ambivalence to Betrayal is a historic review and analysis of the abandonment of the Jewish people by the left from the early 19th century until the present. It also relates to the extraordinarily disproportionate number of socialist thinkers and leaders who were of Jewish origin and seeks to explain what motivated so many of them, in the course of their utopian and futile efforts to “repair the world,” to abandon their people and their heritage and frenetically seek to deny their kinsmen the right to self-determination.

The introductory essay is a brilliant overview of the contemporary Jewish political arena viewed in the context of the concurrent rise of Zionism, Communism, anti-Semitism and Nazism. It focuses strongly on the hypocrisy of the existing left, which has become obsessed with demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state.

Wistrich demonstrates the extent to which today’s radical anti- Zionists, despite purporting to represent the left, often share the identical obsessions and delusions concerning the alleged malignant influence of the Jews in the modern world as classical fascist anti-Semites.

Wistrich provides fascinating and innovative insights on left-wing revolutionaries.

He skillfully relates the connection of “the prefigured 19th century sea-bed of anti-Semitic socialism found in Marx, Fourier and Proudhon, extending through to the orthodox Communists and ‘non-conformist’ Trotskyites to the Islamo-leftist hybrids of today who systematically vilify the so called racist essence of the Jewish State.”

His analysis of the linkage of these revolutionaries with the left’s contemporary abandonment of Israel is a major intellectual and scholastic achievement and provides an intriguing insight into the sources of the far left’s current application of double standards and anti- Israel venom.

WISTRICH REVIEWS in depth the attitude towards the Jews adopted by many of the great socialist revolutionaries of Jewish origin like Karl Marx, Bernard Lazare, Moses Hess, Ferdinand LaSalle, Karl Kautsky, Victor Adler, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, Bruno Kreisky, Isaac Deutscher and others.

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    Wistrich is a humble hero to those who fight for the truth.

  • Mohammed

    You Westerners will soon alll be our slaves and sex toys

    — Your friend

    Mohammed from Yemen

    • Lan Astaslem

      wrong mo – when Israel bombs the hell out of you muslim filth what's left of you will be servants for the JEWS!!

    • UCSPanther

      Either you are a troll or a really dumb Jihad imperialist.

  • bkopicz

    Isi, thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I read his previous book “A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad” and as a layperson, found it to be a very readable and informative study of anti-Semitism. Given how well his previous work interested me, I just moments ago went to Amazon to purchased “From Ambivalence to Betrayal”.

    To get off subject for a moment another timely book (unfortunately) that should be reviewed by Frontpagemag.com is “The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal” by Edward Alexander.

  • Schlomotion

    Finally! An independently published book reviewed by a man from a separate media company with a personal history of fighting economic corruption in the WJC. This looks like a interesting read. The review as posted here had one quote:

    "the extraordinarily disproportionate number of socialist thinkers and leaders who were of Jewish origin"

    There are still a lot of people who try to call that a libel, and who deny it vociferously as Fordian antisemitism. It is refreshing to see it right there in the open as a statement of common fact.


      Happy Eternal Nakba!

    • C.Geber

      You should buy the book and read it. I think most bigotry-free literate people know the difference between saying a disproportionate number of socialist thinkers and leaders were Jewish and saying that socialism and communism were Jewish conspiracies. The first is a fact, similar to the fact that there is a disproportionate number of Jews among Nobel prize-winners. The second is anti-Semitic scapegoating. Jews=communists is a libel of intended delegitimization, just as is Jews=Nazis (or its modern offspring, Jews=neocons). The question is, why do you bring up those who confuse the fact with the libel, unless you yourself do?
      Your clean-up zeal against the appearance of impropriety in anti-Islam book reviews and economic corruption in Jewish organizations is ridiculous. You dab your cloth and anti-disinfectant at imaginary spots on the window, hoping somehow that someone will issue a condemnation notice for the whole edifice.

  • Ghostwriter

    Some of those people in the article sound a lot like Schlomotion and Nakba1948. They too bash Jews simply because they exist.

    • Mr. Polly

      You're a vile philosemite.


        Mrs. Polly, When you get to Hell, say Hi to your furher SHlTler for me.