Chapter 14 of Solzhenitsyn’s 200 Years Together (available here) recounts the events of 1917, a pivotal year in Russia. The main impression conveyed throughout the chapter is the sheer energy of the Jews—what I have elsewhere (pp. 24–26) labeled the psychological intensity of Jewish activism.
1917 in Russia was a year of rapid change, uncertainty and chaos—exactly the situation where even a relatively small but well-organized, energetic and highly motivated force may have a very large impact. As an analogy, consider how relatively easy it would have been to influence the structure of the U.S. government in the unsettled period after the Revolutionary War than it is today.
Jews developed a huge range of organizations of all types. Politically, they ranged from the center to the far left.
From the very first days after the February Revolution, central newspapers published enormous number of announcements about private meetings, assemblies and sessions of various Jewish parties, initially mostly the Bund [a socialist-labor party with a strong Jewish identity], and later of Poale Zion, Zionists, Socialist Zionists, Territorialist Zionists, and the Socialist Jewish Workers’ Party (SJWP). Already by March 7 we read about an oncoming assembly of the All-Russian Jewish Congress.
The various Zionist groups were the most popular among Jews; these groups tended to support socialist candidates in the Russian milieu. As an aside, one can’t help but notice the irony in the fact that Jacob Schiff, who had bankrolled Jewish revolutionary groups in Russia (see here, p. 36), announced that he had decided to join the Zionists “because of fear of Jewish assimilation as a result of Jewish civil equality in Russia. He believes that Palestine could become the center to spread ideals of Jewish culture all over the world.”
Would that he had directed all his financial support to Zionist causes rather than at attempts to topple the Czar. Wasn’t it obvious that Jewish civil equality would make assimilation and intermarriage more likely? Read more