[The Bolshevik Party's Jewish Nature...]
Many members of the Bolshevik party were ethnically Jewish, especially in the leadership of the party, and the percentage of Jewish party members among the rival Mensheviks was even higher. The idea of overthrowing the Tsarist regime was attractive to many members of the Jewish intelligentsia because of the oppression of non-Russian nations and non-Christians within the Russian Empire. For much the same reason, many non-Russians, notably Latvians or Poles, were disproportionately represented in the party leadership. This fact was abused by the Tsarist secret police, the Okhranka, which used anti-Semitism and xenophobia as a weapon against the Russian revolutionary movement and promulgated fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion to explain Russian revolutions as a part of a powerful world conspiracy.
The Jewish origins of some of leading Bolsheviks and their support for a policy of promoting international proletarian revolution—most notably in the case of Trotsky—led many enemies of Bolshevism to draw a picture of Communism as a political idea pursued to benefit Jewish interests. In Germany, the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler used this theory to paint a picture of a supposed "Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy". Even today, many anti-Semites continue to promote the idea of a link between the Jews and Communism. However, the concept that an entire ethnic group or religious communityt can be held responsible for the actions of a few is very widely rejected. The Bolsheviks seem to have been personally rather atheistic and internationalistic, more concerned with the plight of the working class in general rather than with any ethnic or religious group. (See proletarian internationalism, bourgeois nationalism).
Soon after seizing power, the Bolsheviks established the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Communist party in order to destroy the rival Bund and Zionist parties, suppress Judaism and replace traditional Jewish culture with "proletarian culture".
After the October Revolution (1917-1991)
Under Lenin (1917-1924)
In March 1919, Lenin delivered a speech "On Anti-Jewish Pogroms" on a gramophone disc. Lenin sought to explain the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Marxist terms. According to Lenin, anti-Semitism was an "attempt to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants from the exploiters toward the Jews." Linking anti-Semitism to class struggle, he argued that it was merely a political technique used by the tsar to exploit religious fanaticism, popularize the despotic, unpopular regime, and divert popular anger toward a scapegoat. The Soviet Union also officially maintained this Marxist-Leninist interpretation under Stalin, who expounded Lenin's critique of anti-Semitism. However, this did not prevent the widely publicized repressions of Jewish intellectuals during 1948–1953 (see After World War II).
Such actions, along with extensive Jewish participation among the Bolsheviks, plagued the Communists during the Russian Civil War against the Whites with a reputation of being "a gang of marauding Jews"; Jews were a plurality ethnicity in the Communist Central Committee, outnumbering even ethnic Russians. At the same time, the vast majority of Russia's Jews weren't in any political party.
Lenin initiated repressions against the Jewish Labor Bund in order to consolidate Bolshevik influence over all other left-wing and labor movements. The attempts of the Bund to be the sole representative of the Jewish worker conflicted with Lenin's universal coalition of workers of all nationalities. The outcome, however, was less detrimental than repression of Zionism since most Bund members readily joined the Bolsheviks, and later merged with the Communist Party. The movement did split in three; the Bundist identity survived in interwar Poland under , while more westernized Jews joined the Mensheviks. The prohibition of the Bund was the first example of the drawbacks of Communist anti-nationalism, depriving Jews of a powerful, autonomous interest and paramilitary group.
In 1921, a large number of Jews opted for Poland, as they were entitled by peace treaty in Riga to choose the country they preferred. Several hundred thousand, despite the prospect of Communist paradise and the popular vision of Soviet Russia as ruled by Jews, joined the already numerous Jewish population of Poland.
Under Stalin (1922-1953)
Before World War II
To offset Jewish national and religious aspirations, an alternative to the Land of Israel was established with the help of Komzet in 1928. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast with the center in Birobidzhan in the Russian Far East was to become a "Soviet Zion". Yiddish, rather than "reactionary" Hebrew, would be the national language, and proletarian socialist literature and arts would replace Judaism as the quintessence of culture. Despite a massive domestic and international state propaganda campaign, the Jewish population there never reached 30% (as of 2003 it was only about 1.2%). The experiment ground to a halt in the mid-1930s, during Stalin's first campaign of purges. Jewish leaders were arrested and executed, and Yiddish schools were shut down.
Stalin's letter "Anti-Semitism: Reply to an Inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States" dated January 12, 1931 indicated his official position:
- In answer to your inquiry: National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.
- Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.
- In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty. 
In 1936 Pravda, the party's newspaper and main propaganda organ, printed a beneficial explanation of the vile nature of anti-Semitism. It stated that "national and racial chauvinism is a survival of the barbarous practices of the cannibalistic period... it served the exploiters... to protect capitalism from the attack of the working class; anti-Semitism, a phenomenon profoundly hostile to the Soviet Union, is repressed in the USSR."
Despite the official Soviet opposition to anti-Semitism, critics of the ensuing USSR characterize it as an anti-Semitic regime, pointing out the Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany, the relatively high Jewish casualties in the Great Purges, and Soviet hostility toward Jewish religious and cultural institutions (a hostility, however, that was applied with practically equal force against all religious and non-communist cultural institutions, the notable exception being the Christian Orthodox Church during World War II, or the "Great Patriotic War" as it was known there). They also cite Soviet anti-Zionism. Although the Soviet Union voted in favor of the Partition Plan of Resolution 181, which opened the way for the creation of the state of Israel, in the United Nations 1947 vote, and also recognized Israel immediately after the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was unilaterally proclaimed, Soviet support for Israel was short-lived. Soviet authorities refused to grant emigration visas for Israel to Soviet Jews, and the USSR took a generally consistent pro-Arab stance in the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact—the 1939 non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany—created further suspicion regarding the Soviet Union's position toward Jews. The pact, arguably allowed Hitler to freely enter Poland, the nation with the world's largest Jewish population, but it was neither an acceptance of Nazism nor instigated by anti-Jewish objectives. It was a pragmatic foreign policy agreement that tried and failed to head off conflict with a powerful and hostile Germany, one of a series of treaties by which various European powers tried and failed to avoid war with Hitler. With Western backing of the White Russian army in the Russian Civil War a recent memory, and with the failure of Popular Front politics, Stalin appears to have despaired of an alliance with the Western democracies against the Nazis. Believing the USSR to be incapable of resisting the Nazis militarily, he sought a deal. This was certainly a disaster for Eastern Europe's Jews, but that was a side effect rather than a motivation.
The Great Purges are popularly portrayed as anti-Semitic in the West, thereby ignoring the actual context of Stalin's consolidation of power. A number of the most prominent victims of the Purges—Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev, to name a few—were ethnic Jews. That is, however, an oversimplification, since Stalin was just as brutal when acting against his real or imagined enemies who were not Jewish—e.g., Bukharin, Tukhachevsky, Kirov, and Ordzhonikidze. The number of prominent Jewish Old Bolsheviks killed in the purge reflects the fact that Jews were the largest group in the Central Committee, which had a non-Russian majority, and that Jews had a high participation among the Bolsheviks.
In addition, some Stalinists survived notwithstanding their Jewish heritage. Stalin did not purge Lazar Kaganovich, a loyal supporter who came to Stalin's attention in the 1920s as a successful bureaucrat in Tashkent, who aided Stalin and Molotov against Kirov and who participated in his brutal elimination of rivals in the 1930s. Kaganovich's loyalty endured after Stalin's death, when his opposition to de-Stalinization caused him to be expelled from the party in 1957, along with Molotov.