From Ambivalence to Betrayal


From Ambivalence to Betrayal

The Left, the Jews, and Israel

Robert S. Wistrich

Studies in Antisemitism Series

648 pages


June 2012


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June 2012


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About the Book

From Ambivalence to Betrayal is the first study to explore the transformation in attitudes on the Left toward the Jews, Zionism, and Israel since the origins of European socialism in the 1840s until the present. This pathbreaking synthesis reveals a striking continuity in negative stereotypes of Jews, contempt for Judaism, and negation of Jewish national self-determination from the days of Karl Marx to the current left-wing intellectual assault on Israel. World-renowned expert on the history of antisemitism Robert S. Wistrich provides not only a powerful analysis of how and why the Left emerged as a spearhead of anti-Israel sentiment but also new insights into the wider involvement of Jews in radical movements.

There are fascinating portraits of Marx, Moses Hess, Bernard Lazare, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, and other Jewish intellectuals, alongside analyses of the darker face of socialist and Communist antisemitism. The closing section eloquently exposes the degeneration of leftist anti-Zionist critiques into a novel form of “anti-racist” racism.

Author Bio

Robert S. Wistrich (1945–2015) was the Neuburger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. He is the author of numerous books, including, most recently, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010) and Laboratory for World Destruction: Germans and Jews in Central Europe (Nebraska, 2007).


"This is a magisterial work, providing a comprehensive understanding of the origins of the most pernicious challenges currently facing the Jewish people, especially those originating from the enemy within."—Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post

"With this politically urgent and morally compelling study, Wistrich offers a thoroughly researched and demystifying exploration of leftist biases, stereotypes and delusions regarding Jews, Judaism and the state of Israel."—Vladimir Tismaneanu, International Affairs

"Professor Wistrich has now written some 30 scholarly books on Jewish history and philosophy, but his work has been dominated by the subject of anti-Semitism. This book is his finest and most comprehensive on the subject."—Stephen Daisley, Standpoint

Table of Contents

Introduction: Jews, Zion, and Revolution
1. The Racist Temptation in the Labor Movement
2. Karl Marx, Moses Hess, and Jewish Emancipation
3. German Social Democrats on the Völkisch Movement 
4. The "Jewish Question" from Engels to Bernstein 
5. Anti-Capitalism or Antisemitism? The Enigma of Franz Mehring 
6. Socialists and Antisemites in Europe before 1914 
7. Bernard Lazare: Anarchist, Dreyfusard, and Revolutionary Jew 
8. Social Democracy and Judeophobia in Imperial Vienna 
9. The Austro-Marxist Critique of Jewish Nationalism 
10. Karl Kautsky and the Controversy over Zion 
11. The Internationalism of Rosa Luxemburg 
12. Leon Trotsky—A Bolshevik Tragedy 
13. From Lenin to the Soviet Black Hundreds 
14. The Holocaust Inversion of the Left 
15. Bruno Kreisky, Israel, and the Palestinian Question 
16. Anti-Zionist Myths on the Contemporary Left
17. Great Britain: A Suitable Case for Treatment? 
18. The Marxist-Islamist Alliance 
Archival Sources and Selected Bibliography

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