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August 21, 2012 9:24 am

The Zionist Prophecy of Ze’ev Jabotinsky is as Relevant in 2012 as Ever

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Ze’ev Jabotinsky wearing the uniforms of the Jewish Legion of the British army, with his two sisters Bela and Nina. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

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  • As NT pointed out to me, the two ladies in the picture are indeed sisters but rather to each other, not to Jabotinsky. He was an only child.

  • a yid

    Jabotinsky was a great man and a visionary for our people. In Jewish terms, he was not a prophet and this is a disservice to him and to us to use that term. We have our prophets: amazing tzadikim like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Moshe Rabenu. Jabotinsky was not at all a prophet; but he certainly was a visionary and a hero for us. He must be studied, celebrated and honored for his lifelong dedication to the Jewish people.

  • Jabotinsky and the Diaspora Then and the Political Picture among Jews Today

    We are three generations removed from Zev Jabotinsky’s proud declaration of a reborn Hebrew state sharing in the great gift of “the nations”, one that still strikes many Diaspora Jews as anachronistic in spite of the Holocaust and the spectre of nationalist turmoil and ethnic divisiveness almost everywhere. For some Jews in positions of wealth, power and comfort who are either entirely secular in outlook or affiliated with the Reform Movement in the United States and Western Europe and far removed from any sense of a Jewish ethnic identity, Israel has become an embarrassment, one that threatens their self-image as profoundly liberal and understanding of others’ grievances. For them, the Israelis, as fellow Jews, living amidst the cauldron of a strident, militant, exclusivist Islam and the legacy of repeated Arab nation-state failures, should shoulder the burden and responsibility of giving up much of their sovereignty for the delusion and illusion of rescuing the ‘Palestinians’ and thus, helping to ensure what they believe will be a “peaceful world order.”

    Their parents and grandparents most likely rejoiced at the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and regarded it mystically as partial compensation for the Holocaust.

    Nevertheless, two generations later, they have been psychologically intimidated by the constant anti-Israel line of the media, their fellow-liberals and most of all by the torrent of bloody confrontations picturing enraged Muslim mobs ready for constant mayhem to avenge what they regard as the worst injustice in human history (i.e. the creation of the Jewish State rather than the failure to establish an Arab Palestinian state).

    A significant proportion of them cannot escape the narcotic-like trance they have inherited as “progressives” and ultra-critical of capitalism and American society with its underlying Christian values. Consequently, they have developed a reflexive disassociation from the State of Israel and can only look with suspicion and unease on the national pride of Israelis.

    For Jabotinsky, Zionism and the nationalism of other small nations was the accumulation of pride and sovereign self-respect, which for the Jews could only be obtained in the face of an immensely hostile Gentile environment. It was a revolutionary call for Jews to shoulder all the obligations of nationhood and take up the sword in self-defense. This meant doing all the dirty work of soldiers, jailers, farmers and street cleaners instead of preaching to Gentiles on how these affairs should be properly managed.

    Borrowing from the vision of Italian nationalist leader Mazzini (Jabotinsky had lived and studied in Italy for three years), he proclaimed that each and every nation makes its own contribution to human culture within the sovereign body of nationhood in order to fulfil its task and mission. This is still foreign, and appears even “crude” to those Jews whose cosmopolitan vision of their identity, paradoxically resembles that of the ultra-Orthodox as a “divine holy tribe of priests” and who believe they have a universal mission to bring “God’s word” (in their own liberal-cosmopolitan interpretation) to other nations.

    For Jabotinsky, the concept of hadar, an explicitly Hebrew concept that he tried to inculcate into every member of the world-wide Zionist youth movement of Betar, was and remains fundamentally at odds with the century long attraction of many Jewish intellectuals for the illusion of socialism and their false sense of noblesse oblige for the “masses.” The essence of hadar is untranslatable.

    Literally, it means shine or glow, but for Jabotinsky, it implied chivalry in conduct and life-style, a combination, as he defined it, of “spiritual beauty, respect, self-esteem, immaculate grooming, politeness, faithfulness and integrity.” Hadar consists of a thousand trifles which collectively form everyday life. Precisely these values have been mocked by self-hating Jews such as Woody Allen, the cultural hero of many American Liberals.