Cartoon about the Bund's reaction to the Balfour Declaration, 1927
This cartoon was published on November 18, 1927 in the Yiddish newspaper Haynt. The cartoon appeared two weeks after the Zionist community’s celebrations and ceremonies to mark ten years since the Balfour Declaration. The cartoon was a criticism of the Bund which ignored the importance of the declaration.
In the cartoon a mass demonstration of Jews are waving the Zionist flag, celebrating the Balfour Declaration. The Bund is symbolised by a blindfolded man standing on a balcony overlooking the demonstration, saying: “I can’t see anyone.”
The anonymous cartoonist would seem to be suggesting that the Bund was suffering from blindness and ignoring the mind-set of the Jewish public in Poland who were sympathetic to the Zionist idea and were celebrating the historic achievement of the Balfour Declaration.
This cartoon was published in Haynt, the best-selling daily Yiddish newspaper in Poland between the First and Second World Wars. Haynt was published in Warsaw from 1906 until 1939 and played a key role in Warsaw’s emergence as one of the centres of twentieth-century modern Jewish culture prior to the Holocaust. In the twenty years between the two world wars, the Jewish population of Poland underwent great modernisation while also suffering from rising poverty and deepening anti-Semitism. The newspaper reflected and expressed these developments with its tone becoming more ideological and aggressive. Haynt identified unequivocally with the Zionist movement and served as a platform for the writings of its leaders.
The Jewish population in Poland between the world wars was divided into three blocs: the ultra-Orthodox, the Zionists (secular and religious), and the secular non-Zionists. Prominent among the last group was the Bund, a political organisation which declared its socialist opposition to Zionism and fought for the cultural and political rights of Poland’s Yiddish-speaking Jewish population. The heated ideological debates between the different groups were often played out in their associated newspapers.
In response to the Balfour Declaration, the Bund in Poland created an ideology of doikayt (hereness) which maintained that Jews should develop their culture in the country of their birth.
Jewish Studies teachers could use this cartoon when teaching about the Zionist movement, those for and those against, and. the ongoing impact of the Balfour Declaration ten years on.
Teachers teaching Jewish History or Politics could use this resource to discuss the Jewish labour movement across Europe, and specifically in Poland, and their fervent anti-Zionist stance.
Art and Media teachers could also use this image as an example of use of cartoons in political disputes.
What is the title of the cartoon?
What language is it written in?
What does it mean? (You can use the internet to translate the words.)
What is the text at the bottom of the cartoon?
What does it mean?
Describe the man on the balcony above the demonstration.
What is written next to him in Yiddish?
Describe the people demonstrating below.
What is the message of the cartoon?
Where was this cartoon published?
Reading Between the Lines
What does the blindfolded man represent?
Who doesn’t he see?
What does his blindness symbolise?
What point is the illustrator trying to make?
What was the Bund?
What was the Bund’s position towards Zionism, and why did they ignore the importance of the Balfour Declaration?
Why is the cartoon in Yiddish?
Why did this specific newspaper print this cartoon?
What impact was the cartoonist hoping for?
Do non-Zionist Jews today have a similar approach to Zionism as the blindfolded figure illustrated in the cartoon?
What happened to the Bund?
Does the Bund have an ideological successor?
Draw an updated version of this cartoon to demonstrate Jewish anti-Zionist feelings today.
Create a cartoon from the same time which supports the Bund’s position.
What is the role of cartoons in political disputes or historical events?
Find examples from the NLI website, newspapers, and other online sources.
The cartoon is entitled "Rally for Balfour", and the caption at the bottom reads: "I can't see anyone."