‘Jewish Question’ by Abram Leon is ‘truly important’

By Gale Shangold
January 15, 2024

Following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of Jews in Israel, Pathfinder Press volunteers in the United States and Canada launched a special three-week campaign to get orders from bookstores and libraries for The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon. The book explains how in the age of imperialism, Jews become a special target by the ruling capitalist class to try to salvage their system in its death agony. And why only the working class organizing to overthrow capitalism can open the door to putting an end to Jew-hatred.

The results show both the need and the widespread interest in such a book today as discussion and debate on antisemitism rage across the world. Bookstore buyers and librarians placed 59 orders, purchasing at least 118 copies. Pathfinder volunteers estimate that they spoke with 177 buyers and librarians.

Those discussions included introducing The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward by SWP leaders Jack Barnes, Mary-Alice Waters and Steve Clark, a companion book to The Jewish Question. During the course of the campaign, 12 orders were received for this book, putting 44 more copies on bookstore and library shelves. The effort also led to orders for other Pathfinder titles.

This is what Pathfinder salespeople call “shoe leather” work. Susie Berman from Toronto reported that on a regional trip she was part of “all four booksellers responded right away. Three bought The Jewish Question. Two also got The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us. One bookseller told us that he and his wife, who is Jewish, have been discussing this issue a lot at home. She had family members slaughtered in the Hamas pogrom. He ordered both books two days later. Not bad for Day One of our campaign effort.”

A college librarian in Washington state had a similar response: “Thank you! I will have our acquisitions specialist order this book. Truly important right now.”

Two recent bookstore orders from Washington, D.C., and San Francisco included multiple copies of The Jewish Question, The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us, and quite a few other Pathfinder titles. Both stores, for example, ordered 50 Years of Covert Operations in the US: Washington’s Political Police and the Working Class. The San Francisco order included the two titles in Spanish and French.

Based on these successes, volunteers are now preparing for Black History Month in February. Many Pathfinder titles, like Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by Barnes, help readers deepen their understanding of the central place of the Black struggle in the U.S.