The Duma, Partisan Press, & Beilis Trial: Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together, Part 2Spencer J. Quinn
Part 1 here
Chapter Ten: The Period of the Duma
Despite including little by way of terrorism or atrocity, chapter ten is one of the most revealing and fascinating chapters in all of Two Hundred Years Together. It simultaneously demonstrates both Jewish perception and distortion of reality, and just how devastating this can be.
The chapter begins with Tsar Nicholas’ October Manifesto of 1905 which, among other things, promised basic civil rights to all Russian citizens and established the Russian parliament known as the Duma. This, and the establishment of the first Russian constitution a year later, signified the ongoing liberalization of the Russian government, which was following similar changes among the Russian intelligentsia. And this leftward shift, slow and ponderous as it was, allowed the Jewish Question to be openly discussed and considered more than ever.
Yet when hearing the truculent rhetoric of the Duma and its significant Jewish element — as well as that of the Jewish-run Russian press — it would seem as if Russia were backsliding in feudalism. Jewish interests were represented largely by the Cadet Party (“Cadet” being the informal name of the Constitutional Democratic Party), both with Jewish representatives coming from the Pale of Settlement and their allies among the Russian intelligentsia. Solzhenitsyn describes the Cadet Party as the juncture where the groups mingled freely. Their stated goal was equal rights, especially for Jews. Nevertheless, the Tsar’s appointment of Pyotr Stolypin as Prime Minister belied how disingenuous the Duma really was.
Under Stolypin, real measures had been taken to alleviate restrictions placed upon Jews. Stolypin himself had limited ability in this regard, since the Tsar in 1906 had expressed sympathy for the Jewish cause but insisted that reforms must be implemented by the Duma. Despite having implemented administrative measures to ease restrictions upon Jews and believing that pro-Jewish policy in general would deter Jewish radicalism, Stolypin had no choice but to comply. Yet, ironically, the Duma refused! The Tsar and Russian Prime Minister, the two most powerful men in the empire, had given its parliament — and, by extension, its pro-Jewish Cadet Party — freedom to legislate Jewish equality, and the parliament chose not to. Why?
Difficult to explain this other than by a political calculation: the aim being to fight the Autocracy, the interest was to raise more and more the pressure on the Jewish Question, and to certainly not resolve it: ammunition was thus kept in reserve. These brave knights of liberty reasoned in these terms: to avoid that the lifting of restrictions imposed on the Jews would diminish their ardor in battle. For these knights without fear and without reproach, the most important, was indeed the fight against the power.
Between the lines, we should read that one should never take the Left, especially the Jewish Left, at its word. Any Progressive agenda is merely a smokescreen for destroying traditional gentile power structures and replacing them with totalitarianism. Solzhenitsyn also notes the irony behind Stolypin’s assassination at the hands of the Jew Mordko Bogrov — as well as the Russian Jewish community’s tacit approval of the assassination. In fact, Bogrov’s father, despite being a wealthy capitalist himself who had benefited greatly from the Russian system, publicly declared that he was proud of his son.
Cheering on the Duma’s refusal to create a smooth transition to equal rights for Jews was the Jewish-run press. In many ways, Solzhenitsyn’s description of how Jews dishonestly manipulate public opinion to serve their own ethnic interests presages how they do the same thing today in the West. This indicates that this could very well be a fundamental characteristic of Jewish diaspora news media which traverses centuries and thousands of miles. Solzhenitsyn describes how the newspapers “systematically distorted the debates in the Duma, largely opening their columns to the deputies of the left and showering them with praise, while to the deputies of the right they allowed only a bare minimum.”
The predominance of Jews among the press corps covering the Duma became a running joke after a Right-wing deputy referred to the press box as “this Pale of Settlement of the Jews” in a speech.
Solzhenitsyn sums up the destructive nature of the Jewish-run press thusly:
The following statement was attributed to Napoleon: “Three opposition papers are more dangerous than one hundred thousand enemy soldiers.” This sentence applies largely to the Russo-Japanese War. The Russian press was openly defeatist throughout the conflict and in each of its battles. Even worse, it did not conceal its sympathies for terrorism and revolution.
This press, totally out of control in 1905, was considered during the period of the Duma, if we are to believe [former Russian Prime Minister Sergei] Witte, as essentially “Jewish” or “semi-Jewish”; or, to be more precise, as a press dominated by left-wing or radical Jews who occupied key positions. In November 1905, D. I. Pikhno, editor in chief for twenty-five years of the Russian newspaper The Kievian and a connoisseur of the press of his time, wrote: “The Jews . . . have bet heavily on the card of revolution . . . . Those, among the Russians, who think seriously, have understood that in such moments, the press represents a force and that this force is not in their hands, but in that of their adversaries; that they speak on their behalf throughout Russia and have forced people to read them because there is nothing else to read; and as one cannot launch a publication in one day, [the opinion] has been drowned beneath this mass of lies, incapable of finding itself there.”
Solzhenitsyn ends this chapter with the way in which the Jewish press covered the famous Beilis Trial from 1911. Similar to the Dreyfus Affair from earlier in the century, a most-likely innocent Jew was charged with a crime — in this case the torture, mutilation, and murder of a 12-year-old boy — in an atmosphere steeped in classic anti-Semitism. The murder occurred on the property of a Jewish-owned factory, and quickly blood libel accusations were being made by the local population. This led to the arrest of factory worker Menahem Beilis. Solzhenitsyn chronicles many of the bizarre twists of the investigation and ensuing trial, and admits that not only was the prosecution’s case dubious, but Beilis was accused in large part because he was Jewish.
Beyond the person of Beilis, the trial turned in fact into an accusation against the Jewish people as a whole — and, since then, the atmosphere around the investigation and then the trial became superheated, the affair took on an international dimension, gained the whole of Europe, and then America.
So we have an innocent Jewish defendant, corrupt and incompetent gentile authorities, and a vengeful, seemingly anti-Semitic, gentile public. This was, in effect, the perfect storm in which the Jewish press could lose all of restraint, and Solzhenitsyn provides some examples. Ultimately, an all-gentile (and mostly peasant) jury acquitted Beilis. But this, of course, did not exonerate the Russians of anti-Semitism in the eyes of Jewish writers. Note how Bernard Lewis, in his Semites and Anti-Semites, describes the affair:
Another case . . .was the arrest in 1911 of a Jewish brickmaker called Mendel Beilis, in Kiev in the Ukraine, for the ritual murder of a Christian boy. This followed after the temporary halting of the pogroms in Russia under both international and domestic liberal pressures, and represented a new effort and a new direction on the part of the anti-Semites, by now entrenched at the highest reaches of the imperial Russian government. Two years were spent in preparing the case, which was concocted by an anti-Semitic organization, in cooperation with the minister of justice and the police. It was opposed by an impressive array of Russian liberals and socialists, including such figures as the writer Maxim Gorki and the psychologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov. The trial opened at the end of 1913, and, like the Dreyfus trial in France, became the focus for a conflict between opposing political forces in Russia, and the cause of widespread protests in the democratic countries of the West. It was no doubt partly because of the latter that the trial ended in an acquittal of the accused, “for lack of evidence,” and with no decision on the question of ritual murder.
So clearly, the entire Beilis Affair can be wrapped up in Lewis’ simplistic Jew Good-Gentile Bad paradigm. Indeed, there is some truth behind the claim that the whole thing was a regrettable mess that brought out the worst on both sides. And, it must be said that Beilis does appear to have been innocent.
However, the tremendous value of Solzhenitsyn’s analysis emerges when we see how he includes information that Lewis and others do not. Not only did finding this information require some legwork. It also evinces a keen understanding of the weaknesses behind the Jewish narrative. First, Solzhenitsyn shares with us the truly bizarre and horrific nature of this murder.
. . . there are forty-seven punctures on his body, which indicate a certain knowledge of anatomy—they were made to the temple, to the veins and arteries of the neck, to the liver, to the kidneys, to the lungs, to the heart, with the clear intention of emptying him of his blood as long as he was still alive, and in addition — according to the traces left by the blood flow — in a standing position (tied and gagged, of course).
So, this outrage, combined with the fact that the victim was a child, could perhaps explain the heated reactions from the local community better than anti-Semitism can. Jewish writers like Lewis would want one to believe that this was a run-of-the-mill murder. It most definitely was not.
Second, Solzhenitsyn offers a coda to this affair which utterly undresses the myth of Jewish innocence and victimhood. While Beilis emigrated, ultimately to the United States, and died of natural causes at age sixty, other players in this affair were not so lucky. During the early Soviet period, the now-former Russian Justice Minister (whom Lewis mentions above) was shot by the Bolsheviks. The prosecutor was sent to a concentration camp, after which his fate is unknown. And, in 1919, Vera Cheberyak, a witness for the prosecution, was interrogated over her role in the Beilis affair by Jewish Chekists. After refusing to change her testimony and denying that she had been bribed, she was summarily executed.
As with much of volume two of Two Hundred Years Together, Solzhenitsyn demonstrates how Imperial Russia was highly imperfect under the Tsars, but remains far superior in many respects to the Soviet Union — one of which obviously being criminal justice. Gentiles wrongly accuse a Jew, but still give him his day in court and acquit him, and Jews everywhere scream and protest. Later, Jews don’t give a gentile her day in court — and, even worse, blow her brains out with a pistol shot — and Jews say nothing.
With this kind of double standard, how can we trust the Jewish narrative on anything?
It seems to make sense that Lewis would dishonestly exclude such salient information in his cursory analysis of the Beilis trial. It would undermine his philo-Semitic, anti-gentilic agenda, something Solzhenitsyn does quite well in Two Hundred Years Together.
Solzhenitsyn takes one final, well-aimed dig at the press:
Beilis was acquitted by peasants, those Ukrainian peasants accused of having participated in the pogroms against the Jews at the turn of the century, and who were soon to know the collectivization and organized famine of 1932-1933 — a famine that journalists have ignored and that has not been included in the liabilities of this regime.
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