Mouth of the Hydra
Old debates about Zionism and assimilation take on a new urgency in an atmosphere of heightened antisemitism
“It was the arrival of Jewish-nationalist Zionism and Poland's unification with Russian territories—with the ‘Litvaks’— that first opened the filth-spewing maw of the antisemitic Hydra. It is political Zionism that gave them the idea of an ‘alien’ people.”
One month before Anschluss, the Austrian-Jewish weekly Die Wahrheit, exhorts Austrian Jews to learn from the development of antisemitism in Poland. The Vienna-based paper, which, since the twenties had increasingly advocated integration and distanced itself from Zionism, perceived Zionism as a dangerous breach with Polish-Jewish history: in the past, says the author of this article, Jews in Poland stood out with their patriotism and commitment to matters of national concern. He opines that their turning towards Palestine creates the impression of a lack of loyalty, thus giving ammunition to Jew-haters. Moreover, the article accuses Zionists of exerting undue pressure upon dissenters.