Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) was a visionary Zionist leader who will forever be remembered as a Jewish hero. He was a politician, philosopher and journalist who fought for the Jewish people and for the establishment of the State of Israel. There are very few who ever had an impact such as he did on the implementation of the Zionist dream, and his ideology and teachings continue to carry great relevance:
- “…Why should the Jews in Palestine be forced to prepare for self-defense underhand; as though committing a legal offense? You know what a pogrom means in Jewish history; we know what pogroms mean in the history of Mandatory Palestine. The Jews have never been allowed to prepare for that holy duty of self-defense, as every Englishman would have done. We had in our case to prepare by underhand methods, with insufficient equipment, with insufficient drilling, in an amateurish way.” (Relevant today: for all those who question the work of the Israel Defense Forces)
- “Whenever I hear a Zionist…accused of asking too much…I really cannot understand it…Yes we do want a State; every nation on earth…they all have States of their own…the normal condition of a people. Yet, when we, the most abnormal of peoples, and therefore the most unfortunate, ask for only the same…then it is called too much…” – Evidence Submitted to the Palestine Royal Commission (Relevant today: Israel remains the only country in the world whose very existence is questioned.)
- “A great commotion is currently afoot in Zionism, caused by the community of the seekers of peace, whose intention is to achieve (by way, of course, of preaching to the Jews alone) agreement with the Arabs. Frankly, it is difficult to avoid a feeling of nausea: so soon after such an abject and abominable slaughter, and we are advised to plead guilty and beg that we not be beaten again.” (Relevant today: When there is no partner for peace, why do so many continue pushing concessions?)
- “The basic needs of a human being, which today a person must fight for and request the right to earn a living and cause a commotion when this right is not afforded him, comprise in essence five elements: food, housing, clothing, the possibility of educating one`s children and the possibility of receiving medical attention in the event of illness. In Hebrew, these five elements may be arranged according to initials: Mazon (food), Ma`on (housing), Malbush (clothing), Moreh, (education) and Marpeh (medical care). The `five M`s`. With regard to all these elements, there exists in every country and in every period a certain conception of the required minimum.”
- “It is not the anti-Semitism of men. It is, above all, the anti-Semitism of things, the inherent xenophobia of the body social or the body economic under which we suffer.” – The Anti-Semitism of man
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was indeed a prophet, but on top of that, what so few know is that he had a legal education, spoke six languages fluently (Russian, Italian, French, German, Hebrew and Yiddish), and had passing knowledge of at least 20 more. He translated Bialik and Edgar Allen Poe into Russian, and his poem The Raven established him as a Russian poet.
Recently the Jabotinsky Institute announced an annual stipend for academic research on Jabotinsky-related topics. It is vitally important that future generations learn how important this man’s work was. His words, work and ideology continue to live on.
Ronn Torossian is a philanthropist who owns PR agency, 5WPR. He was formerly National US President of Jabotinsky’s Betar movement.