Revisiting the ‘Jewish Question’ and Its Contemporary Discontents

Igor Shoikhedbrod

As this article is being written, the world is confronting a global pandemic that continues to wreak havoc daily. While unprecedented in several respects, the pandemic mirrors earlier crises under financialised capitalism, at least in its devastating impact upon the global working poor and the unemployed, racialised minorities, migrant workers, and other marginalised groups. The pandemic has also been accompanied by a spate of anti-Jewish and anti-Asian violence globally. To be sure, racist-based violence and hate crimes had a long and sordid history before the pandemic. In 2019, a German neo-fascist killed two people outside a Halle synagogue in a deliberate attempt to carry out a murderous rampage against Jews. A year earlier, another neo-fascist was responsible for killing 11 Jewish worshippers and injuring six others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In addition to these horrific acts of antisemitic violence, there has been a general spike in hate crimes against Jews across Europe and North America, which has given renewed force to contemporary discussions about antisemitism and the ‘Jewish Question’.[1] In the Marxist tradition, the debate about the Jewish Question originates in the nineteenth century, prompted as it was by Marx’s well-known critique of Bruno Bauer’s book, Die Judenfrage (The Jewish Question). The current iteration of this debate is complicated by a host of multi-layered and conflicting realities. These realities include the enduring legacies of the Holocaust, the Nakba, the consolidation of the Israeli state, the struggle of Palestinians for self-determination amidst a brutal occupation, as well as a global political context in which xenophobic nationalisms and neo-fascisms have resurfaced with a vengeance.


This piece is being made available as a preprint edition of the double-volume Marxism and the Critique of Antisemitism special issue of Historical Materialism. Further additions will still be made before then. The final published version of this text will be made available on the Brill website in the coming months. We ask that citations refer to the Brill edition.All Illustrations are by Natalia Podpora.


Much as the bold work of Abram Leon may have illuminated the plight of European Jews at an earlier historical juncture, the diverse predicament of Jews around the world has changed considerably since the time that Leon wrote his well-known work.[2] Looking back as one looks forward, Leon’s analysis is understandably dated, and his central thesis about the Jews as a ‘people-class’ was arguably misplaced.[3] However, the question that agitated the precocious 26 year old, who was murdered by the Nazis in 1944, is still with us today. That question is the enduring ‘Jewish Question’. The apparent inadequacies of traditional Marxist approaches to antisemitism and the Jewish Question, Leon’s included, have led some scholars to conclude that the Marxist tradition is hopelessly unequipped to grapple with antisemitism and its political manifestations. In an updated edition to his influential study on Marxism and the Jewish Question, Enzo Traverso reaches the following judgement regarding classical Marxism and its position on the Jewish Question:

The history of the Marxist debate on the Jewish Question is the history of a misunderstanding. Classical Marxism was incapable of comprehending the nature of antisemitism, or of recognizing the Jewish aspiration to a distinct separate identity. Actually, it shared this misconception with all intellectual and political currents that belonged to the tradition of Enlightenment, from democratic liberalism to Zionism.[4]

As for the main source of classical Marxism’s misunderstanding of the Jewish Question and its resultant discontents, Traverso submits:

Finally, the Marxist debate on the Jewish Question shows the tragic illusions of a teleological vision of history. Behind the Marxist conception of assimilation and antisemitism, there was an idea of progress in which history was envisaged as a linear development, an inevitable improvement of humanity, the evolution of society following natural laws and the development of the productive forces under capitalism growing inevitably closer to the advent of the socialist order.[5]

To be sure, one can find passages in Marx and Engels, often detached from context, that support Traverso’s conclusions. The same is true for misappropriations of these passages by some subsequent Marxists. Marx and Engels were indeed children of the Enlightenment – critical as they may have been of its shortcomings – and remained hopeful, at times too hopeful, about the march of progress and the prospects for emancipation in the world. In retrospect, the Holocaust and the countless wars, murders, and dispossessions, both preceding and following the twentieth century, appear to have tarnished any residual hope in the notion of historical progress. While unquestionably critical of Marx’s and Engels’ faith in historical progress in connection with the Jewish Question, Traverso’s most recent work on revolution is more attentive to the presence of ‘ambivalence’ in Marx’s and Engels’s attitudes towards revolution, social transformation, and historical progress.[6]

In general, there has been an impressive renaissance of Marxist scholarship in recent years, coinciding with the ongoing MEGA2 initiative, which has called into question long-held assumptions about Marx and Engels’ irredeemable Eurocentrism, their supposedly unshaken faith in a linear conception of historical progress, including their erstwhile support for British colonialism, as well as their apparent silence on issues of nationality, race, gender, and non-Western societies. What continues to emerge from these scholarly contributions are more nuanced and multifaceted ‘pictures’ of Marx and Engels with which readers are less familiar and comfortable, coloured as prevailing interpretations have been by the Cold War legacy and the practice of selective editing by Marx and Engels’ previous handlers.[7] This is not to suggest that Marx and Engels are beyond reproach; they are not. They were undeniably children of their time, but were also able to rise decisively above many prejudices of their own time. One thinks here of Marx’s pragmatic openness to non-capitalist roads to communism, including his opposition to any attempts at suprahistorical theory, Marx and Engels’ principled positions against racist slavery in the United States and its direct connection with the workers’ movement, and their support for decolonisation and national struggles for self-determination, whether in Poland, Ireland, or India.[8]

In what follows, I do not pretend to unearth previously concealed archival material. Rather, I return to well-known texts, written primarily by Marx, and through a careful and critical reconstruction I show that Marx and Engels have more to offer contemporary readers as regards the Jewish Question than their critics have cared to acknowledge.

Marx died in 1883 and Engels in 1895, so what will be offered in the first section of the article is a critical reconstruction of their most pertinent theoretical reflections on the Jewish Question, which I maintain can still clarify the struggles of our own time. A critical reconstruction should not be confused with an uncritical defence of Marx and Engels, nor should it be regarded as a fateful quest to defend all their pronouncements on Jews and Judaism, whatever their merits. At its best, a critical reconstruction, according to Jürgen Habermas’s frequently cited formulation, ‘signifies taking a theory apart and putting it back together in a new form in order to attain more fully the goal that it has set for itself.’[9] In this case, by critically reconstructing Marx and Engels’ reflections on the Jewish Question, this article will reappropriate their most fruitful contributions with the aim of achieving more consistently the tasks that they set for themselves. While problematic aspects of their pronouncements about Jews and Judaism will be criticised, the underlying aim of this reconstruction is to highlight their potentially constructive contributions to contemporary struggles against antisemitism. For this and other reasons, greater emphasis will be given to the specific political contexts that informed their interventions on this topic. Similarly, rather than interpreting Marx and Engels as engaging primarily with their contemporaries (e.g., Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, etc.), I approach them foremost as revolutionary activists who were deeply involved in the day-to-day struggles of their time, including struggles for Jewish emancipation. In effect, this means approaching their ‘texts’ as active political interventions rather than as abstract and decontextualised contributions to the history of ideas.

It should also be noted that the critical reconstruction offered in this article differs in important ways from other approaches that question the heuristic value of reconstructing Marx and Engels’s reflections on the Jewish Question for the purpose of confronting contemporary antisemitism, whether because of their seemingly unshakable faith in historical progress[10] or due to the dramatic political-economic changes that have reshaped Jewish identity since 1948.[11] The latter approach is arguably more amenable to the critical reconstruction being undertaken here to the extent that it draws on some elements of the Marxist tradition to make sense of contemporary antisemitism, albeit with greater reliance on interventions from decolonial thought, critical race theory, and identity studies.[12] While Marx and Engels did not develop a distinct theoretical approach for the study of antisemitism, their critical insights can be deployed to make sense of contemporary antisemitism and the enduring Jewish Question.

II. Revisiting the Jewish Question: A History of Persecution and De-emancipation

Before turning to Marx’s ‘On the Jewish Question’, it would help to say a few words about the Rhineland Jewish community’s historical experience of religious persecution and the political exclusions to which it gave rise. In recent years, prominent biographers of Marx have paid more attention to the post-revolutionary emancipation of Rhenish Jews, who were subsequently de-emancipated by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815. This process of de-emancipation had a profound impact on Rhineland’s Jewish community. Heschel (later known as Heinrich) Marx’s life changed dramatically after the 1815 Prussian Restoration. As is well known, Karl Marx’s father, Heinrich, a descendant of a rabbinical family turned liberal humanist, was compelled to convert to Lutheranism in order to maintain his legal practice. However, Heinrich’s brother, Samuel, continued his rabbinical duties in Trier long after Heinrich’s wife, his son Karl, and other children had been baptised.[13] In short, the legacy of post-1815 de-emancipation was anything but inconsequential for Rhenish Jews. In his recent discussion of the dramatic changes experienced by Rhenish Jews during this period, Shlomo Avineri observes:

In the years between 1815 and 1848 one can discern a deep feeling of alienation and consequent political radicalization among members of the Jewish intelligentsia in the Rhineland and the emergence among them – much more than among the more quietistic Jewish communities in Prussia proper – of radical politics; some did convert under that pressure, but this did not make them more supportive of the system imposed on them; others, while distancing themselves from orthodox Judaism, did try to maintain their Jewish identity in one way or another. But it is among them that one finds the pioneers of radical democracy, revolutionary socialism, and a profound critique of bourgeois society and German nationalism.[14]

I will not speculate here about how Karl Marx understood the impact of the post-1815 period on Trier’s Jewish community. It suffices to note that these political changes had immediate consequences for Marx’s family and contributed to his subsequent development as a ‘Rhineland radical’.[15]

This historical reality of de-emancipation also helps explain why leaders of Rhineland’s Jewish community approached the then 25-year-old Marx with a petition demanding equal civil and political rights for Jews. Marx recounted this petition in his 1843 letter to Ruge:

I have just been visited by the chief of the Jewish community here, who has asked me for a petition for the Jews to the Provincial Assembly, and I am willing to do it. However much I dislike the Jewish faith, Bauer’s view seems to me too abstract. The thing is to make as many breaches as possible in the Christian state and to smuggle in as much as we can of what is rational. At least, it must be attempted – and the embitterment grows with every petition that is rejected with protestations.[16]

Marx’s recollection of events is worth delving into, not least because it provides a helpful context for his subsequent critique of Bruno Bauer, as well as his unambiguous support for the emancipation of Jews in ‘On the Jewish Question’, in The Holy Family (written jointly with Engels), and in his journalistic reflections on the ‘History of the Eastern Question’ for theNew-York Daily Tribune. These texts form the core of Marx’s reflections on the Jewish Question. The critical reconstruction that follows will draw on these texts, as well as Engels’ 1890 reflection on antisemitism, to demonstrate the extent to which the insights of Marx and Engels can clarify the normative and political stakes of the Jewish Question today.

What makes Marx’s ‘On the Jewish Question’ a particularly incisive work of political theory is its framing. Bruno Bauer’s opposition to the equal rights of Jews is used by Marx as a foil for dissecting the potential and limitations ofpolitical emancipation within the framework of the modern constitutional state. In that essay, Marx takes the claims of a particular group (Jews) for equal rights as a ‘problem’ that is universal rather than particular in character, and whose ‘solution’ is likewise universal. Whereas Bauer faulted the Jews for their unwillingness to renounce Judaism in search of a privileged status within a German Christian state, Marx turned the question back on Bauer by asking on what basis he could demand that the Jews renounce their faith in order to be granted equal rights.[17] In Marx’s view, there was no rational basis for Bauer’s demand, since the most developed modern state presupposes the legal protection of religious conscience as a constitutional right.[18] The fact that Jews could not enjoy the same catalogue of rights betrayed the reactionary character of the Christian Prussian state, as well as the prejudiced attitudes of thinkers like Bauer, for whom Christians were better fit for political emancipation than Jews. As is well known, Marx did not limit his critique of Bauer to the question of who is deserving of rights and who is not; rather, his critique acknowledged the value of political emancipation (i.e., being granted equal rights) as great progress but also identified its inherent limitations in bourgeois society.[19] Marx recognised that one could be a rights bearer in this or that state and yet remain unfree, simultaneously experience and reproduce discriminatory practices, and in the end remain dependent on the exigencies of a capitalist market system that routinely reduces individuals to the playthings of alien powers.[20]

The inadequacies of such a liberation reaffirmed for Marx the difference between political emancipation andhuman emancipation. As we shall see, however, the struggle to realise any fuller conception of human emancipation was not to be understood as the unique political task of a particular religion, national identity, or ethnostate. Instead, it was correctly conceived by Marx as a universal task.[21]

As was noted earlier, Marx returned to the Jewish Question in The Holy Family, a polemic written jointly with Engels against the Bauer brothers and their followers. Marx’s decision to revisit the Jewish Question shows that he considered this question sufficiently important to warrant further commentary, especially since Bauer’s work had met with critical rejoinders by Jewish intellectuals, whose conclusions about the political emancipation of Jews Marx shared. Marx’s discussion of the Jewish Question in The Holy Family helps supplement and round out the position he developed in his earlier essay.

One can discern at least five points that receive closer elaboration by Marx in The Holy Family. The first is that Bauer’s misguided approach to the question of Jewish emancipation leads him to erroneous ‘prophecies of the decay of nationalities’.[22] This insight is revealing, for Marx and Engels have been criticised for engaging in precisely the same kind of naive prophesying of the end of nations, even though they held more sophisticated views on this topic in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions across central Europe.[23] The second point is that Marx takes the opportunity to respond to Bauer’s prejudiced charge that the historical contribution of Jews has been an ‘eyesore’ to the (Christian) world. Clearly identifying with his Jewish ancestry in this context, Marx responds that ‘something which has been an eyesore to me from birth, as the Jews have been to the Christian world, and which persists and develops with the eye is not an ordinary sore, but a wonderful one, one that really belongs to my eye and must even contribute to a highly original development of my eyesight.’[24] Marx is criticising Bauer’s secularised prejudice against Jews,[25] whereby the worst features of modernity’s commercialised ethos are hypocritically projected onto Jews, even though New England Protestants (to use Marx’s example in ‘On the Jewish Question’) were guided by a thoroughly commercialised ethic.[26] Marx finds a similar hypocrisy in the avowedly secular French constitutional republic, which continued to discriminate against Jews because of Christianity’s religious predominance in that country. Marx writes:

Now, according to free [liberal] theory, Jews and Christians are equal, but according to this practice Christians have a privilege over Jews; for otherwise how could the Sunday of the Christians have a place in a law made for all Frenchmen? Should not the Jewish Sabbath have the same right, etc.? Or in the practical life of the French too, the Jew is not really oppressed by Christian privileges; but the law does not dare to express this practical equality.[27]

Jews and Christians were deemed equals in the eyes of French law, and yet in this passage Marx identifies the extent to which Jews remained unequal as a matter of fact.

It is striking that recent commentators on Marx’s attitude towards religious toleration, such as Michael Ignatieff, continue to ignore these critical insights and erroneously conclude that

Marx’s hostility toward the religious toleration granted to Jews and others during the French Revolution was to last for the rest of his life. In 1875, six years before his death, he [Marx] condemned the German Social Democrats’ Gotha Program for endorsing religious toleration. He thought they should abolish religion altogether.[28]

Had Ignatieff read Marx’s work with greater care, he would notice that Marx not only affirms freedom of conscience but also reiterates the particular importance, for a self-professed workers’ party, of liberating conscience from the ‘witchery’ of religion. In Marx’s words:

‘Freedom of conscience’! If one desired at this time of the Kulturkampf to remind liberalism of its old catchwords, it surely could have been done only in the following form: Everyone should be able to attend to his religious as well as his bodily needs without the police sticking their noses in. But the workers’ party ought at any rate in this connection to have expressed its awareness of the fact that bourgeois ‘freedom of conscience’ is nothing but the toleration of all possible kinds of religious freedom of conscience, and that for its part it endeavours rather to liberate the conscience from the witchery of religion. But one chooses not to transgress the ‘bourgeois’ level.[29]

Far from exhibiting hostility towards religious toleration, Marx affirms two interconnected ‘liberal’ rights: freedom of religious conscience and freedomfrom religious conscience. At no point does Marx endorse the forceful abolition of religion that is attributed to him by Ignatieff. On the contrary, in an 1878 interview with theChicago Tribune, Marx maintains that ‘violent measures against religion are nonsense; but this is an opinion: as socialism grows, religion will disappear. Its disappearance must be done by social development, in which education must play a part.’[30] One can take legitimate issue with Marx’s optimistic ‘opinion’ concerning the progressive disappearance of religion under socialism without mischaracterising his considered views, which demonstrate a thoroughgoing commitment to the emancipation of Jews and support for freedom of conscience.

The final two points that are worth stressing here are closely connected to Marx’s earlier insight about the hypocrisy of the modern Christian state in relation to its Jewish minority. The first, pointing back to Marx’s earlier essay, is that the defective character of the modern state is not the fault of Jews, nor is the struggle for human emancipation to be understood as the special responsibility of Jews. Marx explains:

The emancipation of the Jews into human beings, or the human emancipation of Jewry, was therefore not conceived, as by Herr Bauer, as the special task of the Jews, but as a general practical task of the present-day world, which is Jewish to the core. It was proved that the task of abolishing the essence of Jewry is actually the task of abolishing the Jewish character of civil society, abolishing the inhumanity of the present-day practice of life, the most extreme expression of which is the money system.[31]

Second, far from ridiculing the project of political emancipation, Marx maintains that the degree to which Jews have been emancipated politically should be regarded as a benchmark for evaluating the general development and normative status of modern states. He writes:

The Jews (like the Christians) are fully politically emancipated in various states. Both Jews and Christians are far from being humanly emancipated. Hence there must be a difference between political and human emancipation. The essence of political emancipation, i.e., of the developed, modern state, must therefore be studied. On the other hand, states which cannot yet politically emancipate the Jews must be rated by comparison with the perfected political state and shown to be under-developed states.[32]

Consequently, the political emancipation (or, alternatively, the de-emancipation) of Jews offers a valuable prism for assessing the normative status of purportedly modern states.            

Having provided an explication of Marx’s early reflections on the Jewish Question, it would be irresponsible to sidestep the long-standing controversy surrounding Marx’s antisemitism, particularly his inexcusable antisemitic attacks against Ferdinand Lassalle, whom Marx derided as a ‘Jewish nigger’ in a 1862 letter to Engels.[33] To be sure, a lot of ink has been spilt on this topic, ranging from those who take issue with Marx’s use of the ‘Economic-Jew Stereotype’[34] to those who read into Marx’s early essay a political aspiration for ‘a world without Jews’.[35] Rather than engaging with either of these misguided interpretations, I will critically assess the most charitable interpretations of Marx’s early essay that have been put forward by David McLellan and Hal Draper. I will also point to an important instance where Marx’s immanent critique of Bauer’s ‘abstract’ approach to the Jewish Question succumbs to anti-Jewish tropes that Marxists must criticise head on.

A word of caution is also in order here. It is understandable that many contemporary critics often rush to denounce Marx as antisemitic for his choice of rhetoric in ‘On the Jewish Question’, particularly when that work is read out of context and in the genocidal aftermath of the Shoah. But even if these charges against Marx are anachronistic, careful readers should take care to distinguish clear instances of anti-Jewish prejudice in Marx’s writings from those where he is engaging in a refutation of anti-Jewish prejudices. The latter is evidenced most clearly, if not always consistently, in his critique of Bauer’s anti-Jewish tract, which is often attributed erroneously to Marx. There are other occasions when Marx’s antisemitism is simply taken for granted. Consider his opening thesis on Feuerbach, a part of which reads as follows: ‘InDas Wesen des Christentums [The Essence of Christianity], he [Feuerbach] regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty Judaical manifestation.’[36] Readers unfamiliar with Feuerbach’s text are bound to conclude that Marx is guilty of harbouring anti-Jewish sentiments. However, in his chapter on ‘The Doctrine of Creation’, it is Feuerbach who argues that ‘the Jews have maintained their peculiarity to this day. Their principle, their God, is the most practical principle in the world – namely, egoism; and moreover egoism in the form of religion.’[37] Far from agreeing with Feuerbach’s prejudiced characterisation of Judaism and his deprecation of practice relative to the (Christian-inspired) ‘theoretical attitude,’ Marx concludes the same thesis by affirming that Feuerbach ‘does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of practical-critical, activity.’[38] In a later context, immediately after describing the phenomenon of ‘commodity fetishism’ in Capital, Marx writes that ‘trading nations, properly so called, exist in the ancient world only in its interstices, like the Gods of Epicurus in the Intermundia, or like the Jews in the pores of Polish society.’[39] Far from engaging in antisemitic animus, Marx’s passing sociological observations about the historical situation of Polish Jews offered an important theoretical point of departure for Abram Leon’s famous study on the Jewish Question. While Marx should not be excused for deploying racist slurs against his opponents (e.g., Ferdinand Lassalle),[40] charges of anti-Jewish prejudice in Marx’s thought should not be made lightly, especially when they are taken entirely out of context. With these preliminary provisions, we can critically assess the interpretations offered by David McLellan and Hal Draper.

According to David McLellan’s still provocative thesis, Marx’s ‘On the Jewish Question’ is best read against the background of the Left Hegelian and German cultural milieu of the early 1840s in which it was written. This milieu took for granted the parochial use of the German word Judentum, which carried the double meaning of ‘Jew’ and ‘commerce’. It should therefore not come as a surprise, according to McLellan, that Marx played on the double meaning of this term in his 1844 essay. McLellan’s interpretive insight is that Marx’s essay was concerned foremost with the critique of bourgeois society and its commercial ethos rather than with Jews or Judaism.[41] Drawing partly on McLellan’s interpretation, Hal Draper observes that this so-called ‘Economic-Jew Stereotype’ was widespread among nineteenth-century liberal Jews, early pioneers of Zionism, and socialists, most of whom were principally committed to the cause of Jewish emancipation. Draper interprets the retrospective practice of attributing antisemitic motives to Marx’s essay as selective pixillation, which ignores the real question at the time, namely, whether one was in favour or against the emancipation of Jews.[42]In Draper’s words, ‘this was the Jewish question that Marx discussed, not the one that dominated the minds of a sick society a century later.’[43]

I am sympathetic to the interpretations proffered by McLellan and Draper. However, in their attempts to exculpate Marx from retroactive charges of antisemitism, they both overlook an important shortcoming on Marx’s part. Even if Marx was unambiguously in favour of Jewish emancipation, this neither explains nor excuses his succumbing to anti-Jewish tropes in the process of criticising Bauer and defending the rights of Jews. As we have seen, Marx took issue with Bauer’s ‘abstract’ approach to the Jewish Question and advanced an immanent critique of that approach, demonstrating that religious conscience is not a barrier to political emancipation, and furthermore that political emancipation should not be confused with human emancipation. The shortcoming of Marx’s immanent critique is evident when he uncritically rehearses the anti-Jewish tropes upon which Bauer’s account was based. More specifically, in Part II of ‘On the Jewish Question’, Marx makes the following observation regarding the ‘everyday Jew’: ‘We discern in Judaism, therefore, a universal antisocial element of thepresent time, whose historical development, zealously aided in its harmful aspects by the Jews, has now attained its culminating point.’[44] Upon reading this passage, even the most charitable interpreter of the Judentum interpretation would have to concede that Marx exhibited an inexcusable prejudice against Jews.[45] Nothing should bar contemporary Marxists from thoroughly condemning this prejudiced dimension in Part II of Marx’s essay, especially since his goal was to defend the equal rights of Jews.

Notwithstanding his choice of rhetoric and method of presentation, Marx’s methodological approach to the Jewish Question should be critically reconstructed and redeployed to shed light on contemporary debates concerning antisemitism, discrimination against minorities, and the oppression of stateless people. The reasons for this are twofold. First, Marx’s normative benchmark for assessing the character of a state applies equally to all states and is based on the degree to which they vindicate political emancipation. Second, states are to be judged based in particular on the degree to which they succeed in politically emancipating their historically most oppressed members. In the contemporary world, these groups include women, religious, ethnic, and racialised minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and migrants who are fleeing war and persecution. The struggle for political emancipation remains part and parcel of a broader struggle for human emancipation around the world, and for Marxists this should involve a politics of concrete internationalism, anti-imperialism, and the subordination of national economies to robust democratic control.

Fortunately, The Holy Family was not Marx’s definitive word on the Jewish Question. In a largely neglected but revealing article on the ‘History of The Eastern Question’, published in 1854 for theNew-York Daily Tribune, Marx offered a sympathetic reflection on the oppression endured by the Jews of Jerusalem. It is worth noting that Marx’s article does not bear the imprints of the problematic ‘Economic-Jew Stereotype’ that coloured his earlier reflections on the Jewish Question. On the contrary, Marx demonstrates in this article an acute sensitivity to the ‘Jewish aspiration to a distinct separate identity’,[46] even though he does not identify anywhere with Judaism, or for that matter with proto-Zionism. Marx’s reflections are worth quoting at length:

The sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans and 8,000 Jews, The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect, as they are in no way affected with the weakness of their Government at Constantinople. Nothing equals the misery and the sufferings of the Jews at Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud, the quarter of dirt,[47] between the Zion and the Moriah, where their synagogues are situated – the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance, insulted by the Greeks, persecuted by the Latins, and living only upon the scanty alms transmitted by their European brethren. The Jews, however, are not natives, but from different and distant countries, and are only attracted to Jerusalem by the desire of inhabiting the Valley of Jehosaphat, and to die in the very places where the redemptor is to be expected.[48]

Marx assigns far more significance in this context to the interplay among religious, national, and economic (imperialist) factors for a proper understanding of the complexities involved in the so-called ‘Eastern Question’. This is evidenced by his attention to the exacerbation of Jewish oppression that resulted from the joint decision by England and Prussia to install an Anglican bishop in Jerusalem, which had the unintended consequence of forging a ‘union between all the religions at Jerusalem’.[49] At the conclusion of his article, Marx asserts that Jerusalem and its Holy Places (sites of religious diversity and conflict) ‘conceal a profane battle, not only of nations but of races; and that the Protectorate of the Holy Places which appears ridiculous to the Occident but all important to the Orientals is one of the phases of the Oriental question incessantly reproduced, constantly stifled, but never solved.’[50]

It is striking that Marx’s 1854 article, which offers a more nuanced consideration of religion, nationality, and race, is far less discussed than his earlier reflections on the Jewish Question. Absent countervailing evidence, there is no reason to think that Marx’s description of Jewish oppression in Jerusalem was unfounded or exaggerated.[51] The principled commitment of Marxists to peaceful coexistence between Jews and Muslims in particular should not rest upon a romanticised depiction of the Ottoman Empire, which while favourable to Jews relative to the brutal history of antisemitic persecution in Europe, was hardly an oasis of political toleration and equality. In any case, Marxists should not be in the business of cherishing empires, whether ‘Western’, ‘Eastern’, or some other variety.[52] The various manifestations of oppression must be consistently condemned and fought against in the spirit of concrete internationalism. As we will see, this internationalism extends to the oppression of Palestinians under Israel’s military occupation; indeed, if one were to reconstruct and ‘update’ Marx’s 1854 article to reflect the contemporary political realities confronting the residents of Jerusalem, it is the Israelis who are the masters in every respect, while nothing equals the misery and the sufferings of the Palestinians, who routinely are faced with dispossession, humiliation, and death under Israel’s military occupation.[53]

Whereas Marx’s last and most elaborate pronouncements on the Jewish Question appeared in the 1854 article discussed above, Engels revisited the topic of antisemitism in his correspondence of 18 April 1890, seven years after Marx’s death. Engels’ earliest views on the Jewish Question mirrored Bauer’s prejudiced outlook on Jews, specifically the charge that Eastern Jews were a ‘people without history’, and worse epithets.[54] By 1890, however, Engels’ views on the Jewish Question had undergone considerable change, evidencing an awareness of Jewish persecution and an appreciation of the extent to which Jews continued to make important contributions to the international workers’ movement. Engels’ first observation parallels Marx’s reflections from 1854:

The antisemite presents the facts in an entirely false light. He doesn’t even know the Jews he decries, otherwise he would be aware that, thanks to antisemitism in eastern Europe, and to the Spanish Inquisition in Turkey, there are here in England and in America thousands upon thousands of Jewish proletarians; and it is precisely, these Jewish workers who are the worst exploited and the most poverty-stricken.[55]

His second observation is equally revealing:

Furthermore, we are far too deeply indebted to the Jews. Leaving aside Heine and Börne, Marx was a full-blooded Jew; Lassalle was a Jew. Many of our best people are Jews. My friend Victor Adler, who is now atoning in a Viennese prison for his devotion to the cause of the proletariat, Eduard Bernstein, editor of the London Sozialdemokrat, Paul Singer, one of our best men in the Reichstag – people whom I am proud to call my friends, and all of them Jewish![56]

As for the fate of antisemitism, Engels certainly engaged in hopeful but unwarranted optimism – unwarranted, above all, from a retrospective standpoint. He writes: ‘Antisemitism is merely the reaction of declining medieval social strata against a modern society consisting essentially of capitalists and wage-labourers, so that all it serves are reactionary ends under a purportedly socialist cloak; it is a degenerate form of feudal socialism and we can have nothing to do with that.’[57] Such was Engels’ mature position on antisemitism.

It is against such hopeful speculations about the emancipatory future that Enzo Traverso takes Engels to task for his ‘ambivalent legacy’ on the Jewish Question, one which ‘clearly denounced the rise of antisemitism in Germany and Austria’ [but] ‘nourished the illusion that antisemitism was condemned to disappear, to be inevitably erased by modernity and progress.’[58] To be sure, with the benefit of a century’s hindsight, Traverso is correct to note that Engels should have been more circumspect in his implicit prognosis, especially since he also acknowledged in 1886 that ‘for the history of mankind, too, there is not only an ascending but also a descending branch.’[59] A more hermeneutically charitable approach to Engels’ correspondence would reconstruct those insights that remain prescient in today’s struggles against antisemitism. Three such insights can be gleaned from Engels’ correspondence. First, Marxists should be far better informed than they have been about the history of antisemitism and racist prejudice more generally. Second, Marxists should not have anything to do with antisemites, however much they may profess ‘socialist commitments’ or exhibit anti-capitalist animus. Finally, Marxists should celebrate the contributions of Jews and other oppressed groups to the politics of internationalism, both historically and in ongoing struggles against neo-fascism and imperialism.

III. The Russian Revolution: Emancipatory Hopes and Historical Discontents

Between Engels’ reflections on antisemitism in 1890 and the October Revolution of 1917, the infamous Dreyfus Affair shook France, whose revolutionary spirit inaugurated the emancipation of Jews in an earlier era. Pogroms and state-backed violence against Jews intensified across the Russian Empire. The Russian Revolution of 1905 helped spark the first wave of massive protests against autocratic Tsarist rule, which coincided with the emergence of a group of young Jewish working-class radicals in the Pale of Settlement who saw in these revolutionary upheavals the seeds for their own emancipation, as Jews fighting antisemitic pogroms and as workers struggling against exploitation.[60] It should not come as a surprise that Russian Jews – relegated to the Pale of Settlement and routinely subject to pogroms and humiliation by Tsarist-backed gangs – saw universalist possibilities in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917.

As is well known, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets passed a decree against antisemitism and Jewish pogroms on 25 July 1918. Nevertheless, legal history teaches that deeply entrenched forms of prejudice cannot simply be decreed out of existence. While antisemitic violence was largely the product of reactionary White Guard forces and their allies, the Bolsheviks were confronted early on with the brutal phenomenon of ‘Red pogroms’, which were orchestrated by peasants and workers who were partial to the revolution and its goals. Red pogroms were rooted in the popular conflation of Jew and bourgeois among the Russian peasantry and working class, with the result that the Bolsheviks were compelled to decouple fervent class antagonisms against the bourgeoisie from virulent forms of antisemitic violence.[61] This task of ‘decoupling’ proved far more cumbersome in practice, and its sources were religious, cultural, economic, and in a word, historical. It is against this background that Isaac Deutscher perceptively observed:

As elsewhere, so in Russia, the prejudice and hatred that had been inculcated into the minds of people over centuries and millennia, were not to be rooted out in the course of a few years or even decades. This was not all. Another ingredient fed the antisemitism of the masses. The poor Russian peasant looked with distrust at the Jewish shopkeeper or innkeeper, whose trade was often fraudulent. In that abysmal misery in which the latter lived, he may have tried to relieve his own poverty at the expense of the muzhik, who was as wretched himself. And here is to be seen in the making of that antagonism of the old peasant or worker towards his Jewish neighbour.[62]

Deutscher’s reflections attest to Marx’s painful reminder that the ‘the tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living’[63] which in this case, greatly inhibited the long-awaited poetry of the future.

Notwithstanding such fraught circumstances, there were persistent struggles against antisemitism in the early years of the October Revolution, often spearheaded by Jewish radicals through their involvement in government committees like the Yevsektsiia andYevkom, which exerted pressure on the Bolsheviks to confront the stubborn reality of antisemitism within and beyond their revolutionary ranks.[64] Many of these Jewish socialists were involved in the Bund or in the comparatively smallerPoale Zion, the latter developing a territorial outlook vis-à-vis the Jewish working class that theBund vehemently rejected.[65] Despite their struggles against antisemitism in post-revolutionary Russia, the 1930s saw the disbanding of Jewish political and cultural organisations in the Soviet Union, whose representatives were murdered or had disappeared in the Great Purges of Stalinist terror. Antisemitism would take on the most arbitrary character under Stalinism, whereby Soviet Jews were variously denounced as ‘Zionists’, ‘Trotskyist wreckers’, or ‘rootless cosmopolitans’, depending on what was expedient at any given time. Such epithets were arguably even more damaging in their practical effects on Soviet Jews than Winston Churchill’s earlier antisemitic distinction between ‘bad’ international Jews and ‘good’ Zionist Jews.[66] Granted, although Jewish families were given priority by the Soviet government in evacuations from Ukraine and other occupied regions of the Soviet Union during the Nazi invasion, the profound toll taken on Soviet Jewish life was followed by Stalin’s antisemitic campaigns against the Jewish doctors between 1948 and 1953.[67] According to some accounts, Stalin’s long-term aim was to expel all Soviet Jews to Birobidzhan.[68] To be sure, antisemitism did not disappear after Stalin’s death; instead, it became more latent and increasingly bureaucratised. Institutionalised antisemitism was facilitated in part by the Soviet passport, which clearly specified Jewish nationality in its fifth paragraph. This paragraph became a means by which Soviet Jews were discriminated against. Looking back at the October Revolution and its aftermath, McGeever rightly concludes that ‘this was a revolution that promised liberation from antisemitism; its actuality, however, overdetermined them as Jews.’[69] For all its emancipatory aspirations, then, the October Revolution and its Soviet legacy failed to emancipate Jews.

IV. The Legacy of the Holocaust, the Nationalist Abyss, and the Ongoing Nakba

The Jewish Question found its most brutal expression in the ‘Final Solution’ that culminated in the Shoah, the most horrific crime committed against European Jewry by the Nazis and their collaborators. In the immediate aftermath of the Shoah, Jews who survived Nazi ghettos and concentration camps, as well as Stalin’s Gulags, understandably had doubts about the possibility of living in peace with their non-Jewish neighbours, some of whom had collaborated with the Nazis.[70] In one infamous example, when Jewish survivors and refugees returned to the Polish city of Kielce to reclaim their property and resume their lives, they were met with renewed pogroms and brutality from the local population.[71] It is important to recall here that when Jews were fleeing Nazi genocide in Europe, Western countries like Britain, the United States, and Canada were reluctant to accept Jewish refugees, and sometimes were explicitly hostile to the idea.[72] Not surprisingly, some Jews also fled to British Mandate Palestine, which many regarded as a measure of last resort. In retrospect, Isaac Deutscher’s metaphor of the burning house remains helpful for understanding how Europe’s Jewish Question gave way to the Palestinian Question:

A man once jumped from the top floor of a burning house in which many members of his family had already perished. He managed to save his own life; but as he was falling, he hit a person standing down below and broke that person’s legs and arms. The jumping man had no choice; yet to the man with the broken limbs he was the cause of his misfortune. If both behaved rationally, they would not become enemies. The man who escaped from the blazing house, having recovered, would have tried to help and console the other sufferer; and the latter might have realized that he was the victim of circumstances over which neither of them had control.[73]

But rationality did not prevail. Instead, the war of 1948 between the Yishuv paramilitaries and the combined armies of Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon culminated in the latter’s defeat, paving the way for the creation of the Israeli state and for the Nakba, which saw the expulsion from their homes of more than 750,000 Palestinian Arabs, who have not been allowed to return since.[74] One could argue on counterfactual grounds that different historical trajectories were possible in Palestine – for example, the creation of a democratically socialist and binational state for Jews and Arabs, or two states living side by side under conditions of peace and mutual recognition. There is an unfortunate tendency in historical-political analysis to succumb to the fatalistic ‘blackmail of a single alternative,’[75] whereby the victorious narrative is either uncritically endorsed or denounced, while the losing ones are repressed and excised from historical memory.

Those who have a more expansive historical memory will recall the existence of Jewish socialist groups in Palestine, such as Brit Shalom, Hashomer Hazair, and the left faction of the Poale Zion, which were principally committed to a binational state in Palestine where Jews and Arabs would enjoy equal rights.[76] Not everyone shared this principled commitment across the Jewish-Palestinian Arab divide, whether one takes the triumphant labour Zionists or the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, who openly expressed political sympathies for the Nazis during the Shoah. The Grand Mufti’s association with the Nazis should not be taken as a general representation of Arab attitudes towards Jews in Palestine,[77] nor should labour Zionism’s triumph erase or eclipse the memory of Jewish support for a binational state in Palestine. History may be written by the victors, but it is neither a cause for celebration nor a reason for historical erasure. Might does not make right, particularly when the suffering of one group gives way to the ongoing dispossession and suffering of another.[78]

In retrospect, the pyrrhic victory of labour Zionism and the subsequent consolidation of the Israeli state were also setbacks for the cause of Jewish emancipation as human emancipation. The Zionist vision of establishing a homeland where Jews could live peacefully, freely, and equitably has been contradicted by the prevalence of perpetual insecurity, hierarchy, and discrimination among Israeli Jews, not to mention the Palestinians citizens of Israel. The distinguished scholar of European fascism, Zeev Sternell, observed that labour Zionists, who were instrumental to the consolidation of the Israeli state, placed ‘socialism’ in the service of the ‘nation’. However, the process of Israeli nation-building was rooted first and foremost in conquest of the land rather than in the universal quest for human emancipation.[79] Not surprisingly, the nature of such nation-building has been accompanied by the proliferation of illegal settlements and the continuing dispossession of Palestinians of their land.

It falls beyond the scope of this article to pontificate about what should be done to address the interlocking Jewish and Palestinian questions in Israel-Palestine, except to reiterate that there is no way forward without addressing persisting wrongs, which include the Nakba, as well as the dispossession of Arab Jews in the years leading up to the creation of Israel.[80] Any solution will require concrete practices of internationalism and an anti-imperialist politics that confronts existing forms of oppression and works towards a democratic socialist state that respects the rights of all nations to self-determination.[81] Here too one can find inspiration in Marx and Engels at their strongest. Engels famously observed that ‘a nation cannot become free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations.’[82] Marx, for his part, surmised that ‘any people that oppresses another people forges its own chains.’ Concrete internationalism, which was possible before, is urgently necessary today.[83]

Conclusion: Retrieving Marxist Internationalism and Rethinking the Jewish Question Today

The Jewish Question remains a thoroughly political question which has universal application precisely because it is rooted in the struggle for human emancipation. The persistence of antisemitism and the proliferation of toxic nationalisms (to say nothing of neo-fascisms) around the world are fateful reminders about the urgency of Marxist internationalism – one that is sensitive to the global history of persecution and oppression. Marxist internationalism should not be confused with abstract assimilationism, which dissolves the identities of concrete individuals and peoples, such that everyone is regarded simply as a worker and everything else about them is ignored.[84] At its best, Marx’s approach to the Jewish Question provides a yardstick for judging the normative status of contemporary states, including those which claim to speak on behalf of all Jews, and in so doing reminds us that every emancipation is a retrieval of human powers and relationships. With the rise of neo-fascist movements and the resurgence of authoritarianism around the world, there is no more pressing a time for revisiting the moral and political stakes of the Jewish Question. The particularity of the Jewish Question has also been the harbinger of that universality and unconditional solidarity that many Jews, including Deutscher, shared with the ‘persecuted’ and the ‘exterminated’.[85] The Jewish Question remains deeply bound up with the incomplete project of human emancipation. The ongoing struggle against antisemitism around the world remains an indispensable part of this unfinished project and its ongoing discontents.


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[1] My interest in the Jewish Question stems from an earlier study of Marx’s largely misunderstood critique of liberalism in Shoikhedbrod 2019a, as well as my recent reviews of Shlomo Avineri’s and Enzo Travero’s books on this topic; see Shoikhedbrod 2019b and 2020 respectively. It is regrettable that Jordy Cummings (2020) took the occasion to write a baseless attack on my review of Traverso’s book, managing to misconstrue not one but two of my reviews. My reviews were supported with direct references to page numbers from the works in question, in contrast to Cummings’ ad hominem tract. Cummings’ accusatory title of ‘bad faith’ betrays a basic misunderstanding of the term. In both its conventional and existentialist meanings, ‘bad faith’ entails a deliberate attempt to deceive oneself and others while avoiding relevant facts and choices.

[2] Leon 1970.

[3] For a spirited critique of Leon’s central thesis, see Ruben 1982.

[4] Traverso 2019, p.216.

[5] Traverso 2019, p. 220.

[6]Traverso 2021.

[7] For a general sense of this renaissance, see Musto 2020a, 2020b; Carver 2018; Anderson 2016.

[8] Losurdo 2016.

[9]Habermas 1979, p. 95.

[10]Traverso 2019.

[11] Bakan 2014; Englert 2018.

[12] Bakan 2014.

[13]Avineri 2019, p. 12.

[14] Avineri 2019, p. 8. Avineri’s observation about political radicalisation resulting from a sense of political alienation among secular European Jews is reaffirmed and elaborated in Jonathan Israel 2021.

[15] For a more extensive treatment of the Rhineland’s radicals, including Marx, see Sperber 1991.

[16] Marx 1975, p. 400.

[17] Marx 1978a, p. 30.

[18]Marx 1978a, p. 31.

[19] Marx 1978a, p. 35.

[20]Marx 1978a, pp. 43–6.

[21] Marx 1978a, p. 40.

[22] Marx and Engels 1975, p. 98. For a concise treatment of Marx’s ‘On the Jewish Question’ in connection with TheHoly Family, see Avineri 1964.

[23] For a well researched and balanced treatment on this topic, see Benner 2018.

[24] Marx and Engels 1975, p. 88. It is interesting to note here that Bauer’s deployment of the German word Dorn (thorn) draws on the extensive use of this metaphor in nineteenth-century German literature. It is also telling that Theodor Adorno, whether knowingly or unknowingly, rehearses Marx’s witticism against Bauer, inferring in §29 of hisMinima Moralia, that ‘the splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass’ (Adorno, cited in Jay 2020, p. xi). Thanks to Meade McCloughan for bringing this important parallel to my attention.

[25]Bruno Bauer returned to the Jewish Question in his 1862 essay, Das Judenthum in der Fremde (The Jewish Diaspora), where he castigates Jews as ‘White Negroes’ and notes their inferior capacity for physical labour relative to their black relatives. See Bauer 1863, p. 10. For a more elaborate treatment of the racial element in Bauer’s later essay, see Rotenstreich 1959.

[26]For a more elaborate treatment of antisemitism and its projection of modern abstraction exclusively upon Jews, see Postone 2006.

[27] Marx and Engels 1975, p. 115.

[28] Ignatieff 2021, p. 142.

[29] Marx 1978b, p. 540.

[30]Marx 1972, p. 25.

[31]Marx 1975, pp. 109–10.

[32] Marx, 1975, p. 110.

[33] Marx 1985, p. 389.

[34]See Carlebach 1978.

[35] See Runes 1959.

[36] Marx 1978c, p. 143.

[37] Feuerbach 1957, p. 114.

[38]Marx 1978c, p. 143.

[39] Marx 1967, p. 79.

[40] It should be noted that Marx was not always hostile towards Lassalle, though this does not at all excuse his prejudiced attacks against him.

[41] McLellan 1973, p. 86. A similar interpretation is offered by Peled 1992.

[42]For a more global perspective on Jewish emancipation, see Sorkin 2019.

[43] Draper 1977, p. 608.

[44]Marx 1978a, p. 48.

[45]In this regard, Dennis Fischman correctly notes that ‘as readers we are entitled to ask why, if Marx meant only to criticize liberalism for neglecting the power of money, he saw fit to drag the Jews into the argument’ (Fischman 1991, p. 14).

[46] Traverso 2019, p.216.

[47]N.B. Hareth-el-yahoud actually translates as the ‘Jewish Quarter’.

[48] Marx 1980, pp. 107–8.

[49] Marx 1980, p. 108.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Nathan Weinstock, the erstwhile Trotskyist anti-Zionist, links the history of Jewish oppression in the Middle East to the Jews’ historically inferior dhimmi status; seeWeinstock 2014. While Weinstock’s research on this topic is far from exhaustive, it should not be dismissed out of hand without further scholarly inquiry and refutation.

[52] For a critical and vivid history of decolonisation that emphasises subaltern cosmopolitan orientations as forms of ‘worldmaking’, see Getachew 2019.

[53]In its report of 27 April 2021 regarding the treatment of Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Human Rights Watch observed that ‘in certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution’ (Human Rights Watch 2021).

[54]See Traverso 2019, pp. 23–6.

[55]Engels 1990, p. 51.

[56] Engels 1990, pp. 51–2.

[57] Engels 1990, p. 51.

[58]Traverso 2019, p. 28.

[59] See Engels, 1985, p. 360.

[60] See Shtakser 2014, p. 31.

[61] McGeever 2020, p. 184. This conflation underscores just how dangerous the figural ‘Economic-Jewish Stereotype’ can be in revolutionary practice.

[62] Deutscher 2017, p. 70.

[63]Marx 1978d, p. 595.

[64] McGeever 2020, p. 214.

[65] Deutscher 2017, p. 67. Here it is important to avoid reading back into the Poale Zion, which was partly inspired by Ber Borochov’s ‘Marxist Zionism’, the theories and subsequent practices of Labour Zionism in British Mandate Palestine. Notwithstanding the shortcoming of Borochov’s theory of the ‘inverted pyramid’, the minority of his dissident followers in Mapam quickly became marginalised preciselybecause of their commitments to universalism in the form of collaboration between Jewish and Arab workers in Palestine. For a well-researched critical perspective on this issue, see Sternhell 1998, p. 19. Borochov, it should be noted, returned to Russia during the revolutionary upheaval in 1917 and died shortly thereafter.

[66] Churchill 1920.

[67] See Brent and Naumov 2003. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) was actively repressed by the Soviet regime in the aftermath of WWII because its members (most of whom were subsequently imprisoned, tortured, or executed) documented the specificity of antisemitic crimes on the territories of the Soviet Union during the Shoah and thus underscored the disproportionate reality of Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators. One should also note here important parallels with the notorious Prague show trials of 1952, in which eleven of the thirteen accused were Jews, who were variously denounced as ‘Trotskyite, Titoite, Zionist, and bourgeois-nationalist’ traitors.

[68]Deutscher 2017, p. 82.

[69] McGeever 2020, p. 210.

[70] For a recent examination of neighbour-on-neighbour violence on the eve of the Holocaust, see Kopstein and Wittenberg 2018.

[71] Achcar 2011, pp. 58–9.

[72] For the Canadian experience, see Abella and Troper 2012. After recounting the historical persecution of European (Ashkenazi) Jews, which culminated in the Shoah, Charles Mills observes that European Jews represent the clearest instance of ‘borderline’ Europeans, who are phenotypically white persons but whose political status as whites remains in question. When approaching contemporary antisemitism, it is crucial to remember that antisemites are, by definition, against extending Jews entry ‘into the inner sanctum of the racial club’ (Mills 1997, p. 80).

[73] Deutscher 2017, p. 136. Deutscher subsequently distinguishes between the nationalism of the oppressor and the nationalism of the oppressed. He cautions, however, that ‘even the nationalism of the exploited and oppressed should not be viewed uncritically, for there are various phases in its development; in one phase progressive aspirations prevail; in another reactionary tendencies come to the surface. From the moment that independence is won or nearly won, nationalism tends to shed its revolutionary aspect altogether and turns into a retrograde ideology’ (pp. 138–9). Cf. Fanon 2004, pp. 97–144.

[74]Awad and Bean 2020, pp. 15–38.

[75]Kolakowski 1968, p. 97.

[76] Achcar 2011, p. 290; Chomsky and Pappé 2015, pp. 51–2.

[77] For a well-researched critical discussion of Amin al-Husseini in this respect, see Achcar 2011, pp. 137–73. Husseini’s antisemitism cannot be denied, even if its sources were ‘religious’ in inspiration.

[78] I agree with Noaman Ali (2020) that one cannot make proper sense of the Jewish Question in the aftermath of 1948 without also confronting the interlocking Palestinian Question. However, great care should be taken to avoid dissolving one question into the other and thereby trivialising both.

[79]Sternhell 1998, 46. For recent perspectives on the relationship between Zionism and settler colonialism, see Peled 2017, pp. 103–22, as well as Khalidi 2020.

[80] Achcar 2011, p. 295.

[81] See Awad and Bean 2020, p. 6.

[82]Engels 1976, p. 389.

[83]Marx 1985, p. 89.

[84] Marx 1978b, pp. 530–31.

[85] Deutscher 2017, p. 51.