The Last Bundist
Publisher: Syd's Blog
Date Written: 10/10/2009
Year Published: 2009
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22623
Marek Edelman died last week . He was 90. He was buried on Friday. Marek Edeleman was the last surviving member of the Warsaw Ghetto. He was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and its last commander - after Mordechai Anelewicz was killed.
Why is Edeleman mostly ignored while Anelewicz is lionized? (I lived for a year on Mordechai Anelewicz St. in Jerusalem, there is a kibbutz Kfar Mordechai named after him, his name and story is taught in every Israeli school, and in most Hebrew Schools around the world.)
Perhaps because he remained a firm anti-Zionist all his life. In pre-war Poland he was a leader of the "Bund" - the Jewish Socialist Party, that advocated for a "multi-cultural" solution for Jews within a socialist Poland. It dreamed of a thriving Yiddish based Jewish culture within a secular, multi-ethnic Poland - where significant minorities - like Jews and Ukrainians - would have cultural autonomy. The Bund was a significant party within the Polish Parliament of those years, and there where as many supporters of the Bund as there where Zionists among polish Jews of the 1930s. After the war Edelman remained in Poland, became a noted doctor, and later was active in the Solidarity movement that brought down Communism in Poland. In the 1990s, he served in the Polish Parliament.
In 2002, in the middle of the second intifada, Edelman wrote a letter to Palestinian resistance leaders. Though the letter criticized the suicide bombers, its tone infuriated the Israeli government and press. According to The Guardian, "He wrote in a spirit of solidarity from a fellow resistance fighter, as a former leader of a Jewish uprising not dissimilar in desperation to the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories." He addressed his letter to "To all the leaders of Palestinian military, paramilitary and guerrilla organizations - To all the soldiers of Palestinian militant groups". This set up a howl of rage in the Israeli press, especially that Edelman had consciously used the terms that described the structures of the resistance movement in Warsaw.