DUMA


DUMA, Imperial Russian legislature, in existence between 1906 and 1917. The electoral law establishing the First Duma included no specific restrictions on the Jewish franchise. Although the Jewish socialist parties, and primarily the *Bund, boycotted the elections to the First Duma, the majority of Jews took an active part, voting for candidates of the Russian Constitutional Democratic Party (the Kadets). Twelve Jewish deputies, including five Zionists, were elected: L. *Bramson, G. *Bruk, M. Chervonenkis, S. Frenkel, G. Jolles, Nissan *Katzenelson, Shemaryahu Levin *M. *Ostrogorski, S. *Rosenbaum, M. *Sheftel, M. *Vinawer, and B. Yakubson. Nine of the deputies were affiliated to the Kadet fraction and three to the Labor group (Trudoviki). On May 15, 1906, a bill to grant civil equality to the Jews and repeal all discriminatory legislation on the ground of religion or nationality was brought in. When news of the pogrom in *Bialystok reached the Duma at the beginning of June 1906, it sent an investigating commission there. The commission's report placed the responsibility for the pogrom on the Russian authorities, and the debate on this burning issue terminated with the dissolution of the First Duma by the Russian government in July. The Jewish representatives took part in the subsequent convocation of protest held by Duma deputies in Vyborg, Finland, and joined in signing the "Vyborg Manifesto," which called on the Russian people to register passive resistance by refusing to pay taxes or enlist in the army. Jews were also among the deputies who were sentenced to three months' imprisonment for signing the manifesto and deprived of their elective rights.

The Second Duma, which met in February 1907, included only four Jewish deputies, and they were hardly known to the Jewish public: S. Abramson, L. Rabinovich, Y. Shapiro – affiliated to the Kadets – and V. *Mandelberg (Siberia), affiliated to the Social Democrats. The small number of Jewish members was the result of the organization and activities of the antisemitic groups who opposed the election of Jewish deputies on principle. Since the Jews were in the minority throughout the country they were unable to return Jewish deputies without the support of the non-Jewish electorate. A bill was laid before the Second Duma by the government abrogating all denominational restrictions in Russia excepting those imposed on the Jews. The premature dissolution of the Second Duma in June 1907 interrupted the debate on the bill.

The Third Duma (1907–12) was returned by a new electoral law which restricted ab initio representation of the national minorities and increased that of the landowners and clergy. It was overwhelmingly composed of right-wing elements. There were two Jewish deputies, N. *Friedman and L. *Nisselovich. The Jews were constantly attacked, especially by representatives of the extreme right such as Purishkevich and Zamyslowsky. A bill to abolish the *Pale of Settlement signed by 166 deputies met with ridicule and abuse from the antisemites. On the other hand, the assassination of Premier Stolypin and the *Beilis blood libel case provided an opportunity for scurrilous anti-Jewish attacks. The antisemites also proposed excluding Jews from the army.

Three Jews were elected to the Fourth Duma (1912–17), N. Friedman, M. Bomash, and E. Gurewich. A political office was established by a number of non-socialist Jewish parties to assist the Jewish deputies and provide guidance. The members of this bureau included Y. *Gruenbaum and I. Rosow (Zionists), S. *Dubnow and M. *Kreinin (Jewish Populist Party, Folkspartei), M. Vinaver and H. *Sliozberg (Jewish Peoples' Group), L. Bramson and A. *Braudo (Jewish Democratic Group), and O. *Grusenberg. During World War I the Jewish deputies were assigned to counteract the anti-Jewish vilification campaign spread by the army general staff and the restrictions introduced in its wake. It was on the initiative of the political office that deputy A. Kerensky paid a visit to the war zone: on his return he denied the libels from the podium of the Duma. The political office also appealed to the Duma to protest against the government memoranda of 1916 which accused the Jews of sabotaging the Russian war effort. After the February 1917 Revolution the Jews were granted equal rights and the "Jewish question" disappeared from the agenda of the Duma.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Y. Maor, in: He-Avar, 7 (1960), 49–90; J. Frumkin, in: Russian Jewry (18601917) (1966), 47–84; Dubnow, Hist Russ, 3 (1920), 131–42, 153–6.

[Yehuda Slutsky]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.