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The Newly Converted Redux
This nationalist mythology triggered something deep. It wasn’t a materialist thing. It was spiritual, closer to a religious awakening.
Back to my Soviet Jew programming here. I reworked part of Chapter 1 of TSJ— the part that deals with the effect that Israel’s covert proselytization campaign began to have on Jews in the Soviet Union. Check it out. I’ll have the audio version out sometime this week.
The Soviet response showed the country’s top leadership thought they could deal with the growth of Jewish nationalist ideas as if they were an outcrop of fake news — harmful weeds that could be pulled and replanted with correct and beneficial ideas. Using the parlance of today’s ideological info-warriors, they thought they could stop Zionism by fact-checking disinformation.
But Yakov’s extreme reaction to a single Nativ pamphlet hinted at a deeper problem. These Soviet bureaucrats were clearly underestimating their enemy. And their superficial solutions revealed a deep naivety about the intense power of these nationalist ideas — about how much they could attract and electrify.
Nativ’s propaganda methods might have been crude and simplistic. But that didn’t matter. They were having an outsized effect. Nativ’s nationalist mythology triggered something deep among a small but growing number of Jews in the Soviet Union. There was something that had been lacking in their lives and Nativ’s vision of the world filled that need. This wasn’t some materialist thing. It was spiritual, closer to a religious awakening. Whatever was happening to them wasn’t going to be stopped by a few condescending Pravda editorials and finger-wagging by a couple of state-approved rabbis.