Margaret Street’s hidden wartime story

Margaret Street’s hidden wartime story

14 May 2024: The assembly point for the Jewish Bloc this week is particularly meaningful for JSG member Sue Levi-Hughes

Jewish Socialist No 79 Editorial

26 March 2024: Welcome to the new issue of Jewish Socialist.

More than a question of numbers

21 March 2024: Joseph Finlay takes an in-depth look at the new Community Security Trust report on antisemitism in Britain in 2023 to assess how useful its approaches are and how accurate it is.

Building a better world

22 January 2023: Housing activist Glyn Robbins had an opportunity to spend six months working and researching alongside his counterparts in New York City and discovered the rich history of housing co-operatives there. He also discovered the role of left wing Jews in creating them and their enduring legacy.

This land is our land

21 January 2023: Searching for some ultimate bedrock of our identity is not a useful or progressive basis on which to fight for justice and human rights, argues Julia Bard

My Bundism is not just a memory

24 March 2022: Irena Klepfisz, poet, writer, teacher, activist, was born in the Warsaw ghetto in 1941. She grew up among Bundist survivors in New York, absorbing their philosophy. She describes the impact of that philosophy on her life and what it means to be a Jewish socialist in the 21st century.

Inspired by the past, singing for today

28 July 2023: Daniel Kahn has gained a devoted following among radical Jewish diasporists for his bilingual versions of Yiddish songs that bring the past sharply into the present, in a style that combines klezmer, punk and Brecht. His new album, Der Binyen (The Building) reveals other influences. David Rosenberg spoke with him

Who is it that is actually being submerged?

25 November 2022: David Rosenberg spoke at a vigil to remember the 32 refugees who drowned in the English Channel a year ago on 24th November 2021. This is what he said. The vigil was organised by Care4Calais, TUC and Stand Up To Racism.

Challenging borders with solidarity

27 December 2021: The migrant crisis on the Polish border with Belarus that exploded this winter has particular resonance with Jewish people, write Julia Bard and David Rosenberg

Partners in hate crime

3 August 2021: Antiracists and anti-fascists responded speedily to news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be welcoming his Hungarian counterpart, Europe’s most Islamophobic, anti-migrant leader, for a cosy chat at 10 Downing Street. At less than 48 hours notice, Stand Up To Racism called a protest and contacted Jewish, Muslim and Gypsy Roma Traveller groups here, mirroring the communities Orbán has targeted in Hungary. On the eve of his visit, the Jewish Socialists’ Group organised a twitterstorm exposing Orbán and criticising Johnson’s invitation. Roma, Muslim and Jewish activists and other antiracists spoke at the protest. Here is the speech made by ROB FERGUSON, who is descended from Hungarian Jews.

A defining moment

3 August 2021: JULIA BARD evaluates the potential of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism to reset the political dial, and undo the damage done by the imposition of the IHRA Working Definition

Describing injustice

3 August 2021: We were very pleased to have speakers from two Israeli human rights organisations at this year’s Jewish Socialists’ Group conference: Roy Yellin, director of public advocacy of B’Tselem, whose report this year named Israel’s regime as apartheid, and Rachel Beitarie, director of Zochrot, which works to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba. Here are edited versions of their speeches.

Jewish Socialist 75 Editorial

3 August 2021

What do the Israelis teach Western police forces?

28 October 2020: In the bitter aftermath of the George Floyd killing, and claims about IDF exporting training, author and activist Jeff Halper unravels connections between the police and the military

Unity and universalism

19 October 2020: Liz Fekete, director of the Institute of Race Relations focused on the links between state racism, hate crime and resistance when she spoke at the Jewish Socialists’ Group’s first Annual Meeting by Zoom this year. Jewish Socialist magazine has published her speech.

Jewish Socialist 74 Editorial

3 October 2020

Bringing the Bund to London

4 September 2020: Fifteen years ago today we lost a treasured member of the Jewish Socialists’ Group who had a profound influence on the group’s outlook. His name was Majer Bogdanski. He joined the JSG in 1985, a few months after we had invited him to talk to our group. He remained a member until he died 20 years later. David Rosenberg recalls his life, work and influence

On the Trail of Traveller Lives

22 April 2020: In Issue 73 of Jewish Socialist magazine, Ross Bradshaw explores Romany lives, past, present, and those cut short by the Nazis, in the context of his own family’s history

Jewish Socialist 73 Editorial

8 April 2020

Groomed by the Far Right

23 October 2019: In a speech at a recent anti-racism conference, David Rosenberg elucidated the pivotal place of antisemitism in far right ideology

Hope for a different future on Warsaw’s streets

27 April 2019: Every year hundreds of people gather in Warsaw for an alternative commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This year, a contingent from the Jewish Socialists' Group joined them. David Rosenberg reports.

What did the revolution do for Yiddish?

23 December 2017: Barry Davis, a dear friend of many people in and beyond the Jewish Socialists' Group, died on 14th December 2017. He loved Yiddish language and culture, and shared his knowledge and talent generously. He wrote this wonderful article for the current issue of Jewish Socialist, in which he examines the new opportunities and the competing pressures surrounding Yiddish in the early years of the Soviet state.

Secular Socialist Seder Night

4 April 2016: (publication date) This event is on 22 April 2016, 7 - 9.30pm. Details in the events section.

The Man Who Was Friday

22 March 2015: The Marx Memorial Library on Clerkenwell Green was packed for the launch of Dave Rosenberg's new book 'Rebel Footprints'. Alex Gordon reminded us that the room we were meeting in once housed the printing press from which came many left-wing publications. And that reminded Charlie Pottins of how a ladies' tailor from Lithuania came to be linked with the building, when Lenin was working there. It was just part of OSIP PIATNITSKY'S adventurous life. A lfe which ended tragically, but should not be forgotten..

Armenian Holocaust

1 February 2015: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the deportation and mass murder of Armenians in Turkey. The word genocide had not yet been coined, but the word Holocaust in its modern sense was first used of what the Armenian people went through. It was not the first such crime against humanity, and as we know,not the last. But Armenians are still waiting for acknowledgement.

Hommage to Pierre Ghenassia

1 January 2015: 'En Hommage a Pierre Ghenassia', commemorating a young Jewish communist who died in Algeria's struggle for independence, was first published in the Algerian daily 'El Watan' in 2008. The writer, Mohammed Rebah, quotes a veteran liberation fighter who paying tribute to Ghenassia, said he wanted to answer those who claimed there was an inevitable antagonism between those of different religious origins.

Cabinet Conspiracy

7 December 2014: In January 1940, Leslie Hore Belisha, Britain's Secretary of State for War, was forced to resign because of what Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain called "a strong prejudice" against him. Belisha, the only Jew in the government, had been attacked by a notoriously right-wing magazine called "Truth". But he may well have sensed that behind this attack was a conspiracy hatched within the very government he served. In this article, first published in Jewish Socialist in Spring 1990, Charlie Pottins traces the connecting threads, and shines a light down some of the darker corridors of power in Britain.

Lighting the Torch in Algiers

5 December 2014: On November 8, 1942, as Allied forces prepared their landing in north-west Africa, in Operation Torch, some 400 ill-armed rebels seized strategic buildings in Algiers, with the aim of paralysing Vichy resistance and opening the way for the Allies. The prizes they captured that night included Admiral Darlan, no.2 in the Vichy regime. More than half the rebels were Algerian Jews. Coming almost six months before the Warsaw ghetto revolt, their action can be considered the first major act of Jewish armed resistance in the War, and perhaps the most successful. Yet their contribution to Allied victory, and how they were treated, are missing from many histories. In this article, first published in Jewish Socialist in Winter 2012-3, Charlie Pottins looks at the background and events of the revolt.

Murder in the Rue Rollin

5 December 2014: Egyptian Jew Henri Curiel was a founder of the Communist Party in his country and neighbouring Sudan, and a pioneer of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace contacts when this was an illegal, risky, and many thought impossible mission. Respected also for his solidarity work for struggles in several countries, Curiel was under surveillance by more than one security service when he was murdered in Paris in 1978.

Remembering Majer Bogdanski

23 September 2014: VETERAN Bundist and Jewish Socialists' Group member Majer Bogdanski died in September 2005 at the age of 93. Born in the Polish industrial city of Lodz, Majer became aware of workers' struggles and Jewish resistance to oppression at an early age, joining the youth movement of the Bund. During the Second World War he survived the Soviet gulag and fought in Italy, while his fiance and family back in Poland perished in the Holocaust. After the war, settling in London's East End, earning his living as a tailor, and joining the Labour Party, and later the JSG. He also became a stalwart of Yiddish music and culture, which the Nazis and Stalin had done so much to destroy. At a memorial meeting for Majer in November 2005 there were tributes from at home and abroad. From New York University, Dr Gail Malmgreen wrote: 'Majer was a delightful person and an inspiration to many. He kept the dream of a better and more beautiful world alive in the worst of times.' . We are posting some of the tributes to Majer Bogdanski from that meeting, which were previously published in Jewish Socialist magazine.

Purged from History

20 September 2014: In December 1941, when the German armies were just a short distance from Moscow,. Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter, two leaders of the Jewish Socialist Bund in Poland, were shot in Soviet Russia. On the 50th anniversary of their deaths, JSG member Majer Bogdanski, himself a veteran of the Bund, wrote about their lives.

Lou Kenton

11 September 2014: Displayed above the bar in the West London Trade Union Club are a selection of decorative china plates commemorating the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Spanish Civil War, the Miners' strike, and other proud episodes of working class history. They are the work of East End-born Lou Kenton, a club member who died two years ago, on September 17, 2012, aged 104. As Karl Lewkowicz narrates, Lou led a life as brave and colourful as his artwork.

Meeting Helen Bamber

22 August 2014: Helen Bamber, whose death at the age of 89 has just been reported, was a 19 year old nurse when she volunteered to go into the newly liberated Belsen concentration camp to help survivors. Nowadays the Foundation which bears her name still helps victims of persecution. When Charlie Pottins interviewed Helen for Jewish Socialist in 1995 she was working at the Medical Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture, which she helped found.

James Connolly on Antisemitism

19 August 2014: In June 1903, James Connolly took on the English Social Democratic Federation(SDF) leader H.M.Hyndman, in defence of the Socialist Labour Party in the United States,and its best-known leader Daniel De Leon. De Leon, who came from a Dutch Sefardi family in Curacao, was a founder of the militant Industrial Workers of the World, though he came to have differences with some of its leaders. Connolly himself had differed with De Leon on several issues, but in defending De Leon and the SLP against Hyndman, he felt it important first of all to denounce the SDF leader's chauvinism and antisemitism, before going on to compare the two parties.

James Connolly and the Jews

19 August 2014: The Irish socialist James Connolly, executed by the British for his part in leading the 1916 Easter Rising, is revered as a patriot, but he was never a chauvinist. Among the lesser-known episodes of Connolly's life is the time he stood for election in Dublin in 1902, and made a bid for the immigrant vote with a leaflet in Yiddish.

The Men Who Were Not There

7 August 2014: Discussing the inappropriate placards some people bring on demonstrations, and how they catch the eye of photographers, reminded one old stager of a strange little episode he watched unfold many years ago in Park Lane, involving a small demonstration and two men who were not part of it, but were photographed nevertheless.,

Oh! What a Tangled Web ...

31 July 2014: In war, it has been said, truth is the first casualty. Unfortunately not the last. The internet and social media have lessened our dependence on official channels and corporate media, but new methods of communication also ennable new trickery and disinformation. Let the reader beware. Identities and messages are not always what they seem.

Maxim Ghilan

26 July 2014: Maxim Ghilan came through the fire and storms of 20th century war to work tirelessly for a just peace.

Stepping Out Together

20 July 2014: Amazing the friends you meet when you share a hatred. Captured on camera in Croydon in July 2013 when they joined a march against "terrorists" and Muslims. We don't know the name of the young man in the Kahanist tee shirt. But the older man with him is Holocaust denier Richard Edmonds. Never again? He said it never happened the first time.

How ADL got caught in Apartheid spy case

20 July 2014: America's well-known Jewish "anti-defamation" body was caught using moonlighting cops in a murky spying operation that had little to do with protecting Jews and even targeted some of them. We don't know what lessons were learned from this episode by the ADL, or by some of its opponents.

What we owe to Balfour

15 July 2014: How much does Israel owe to 'the Lord', and how much to Lord Balfour? On the 90th anniversary of the famous Declaration, Charlie Pottins looked at .some of the history of interests and motivations behind it

The Adventures of a Pesakh Haggadah

8 July 2014: At Pesakh, the Passover, it is traditional to read from a special book, the Haggadah, about the liberation of the slaves from Egypt. Each of us is commended to think as though we personally were among those liberated. Over the centuries there have been several Haggadot which gave the story contemporary meaning. But a JSG member who went to Bosnia during the war there heard about one particular centuries-old Haggadah whose adventures have become a legend of its own.

Triangle Fire:The Tragedy That Goes On

6 July 2014: Not long ago a JSG meeting heard from Bangladeshi garment workers' union delegates, touring to raise awareness among trades unionists and consumers. Like the East End sweatshops of yesteryear, Asian garment factories supply the West End stores. But exploitation is not all that links our histories. Each new factory disaster in which workers are killed reminds us of what befell jewish and other immigrant workers in New York, one day in 1911.

Dybbuk:  Tears of the Merry Widow

25 June 2014: Jewish Socialist's diarist Dybbuk discovered some interesting background on the English Defence League's rich American aunt

Faraging for votes among the discontented

24 June 2014: The Left knows how to respond to movements that are clearly fascist, but how should it confront a populist party that exploits racism but presents itself as pro-democracy and anti-establishment? Don Flynn offers an approach