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February 6, 2015 4:30 pm

What Would Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin Say About Naftali Bennett?

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Minister Naftali Bennett at a Bedouin employment center. Photo: Israeli government.

Inevitably, before every Israeli election, there is political maneuvering and jockeying for votes. As an eternal student of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and the Betar movement, I try and view issues of importance through the spectrum of what Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin would say.

Habayit Hayehudi and Naftali Bennett are thought of by some as the party most emulating the vision of the Revisionist Zionist right. Bennett – during only a few short years in politics – has shown that there is nothing more important for Jewish survival than Zionism, and has demonstrated true leadership for the State of Israel. He has also demonstrated responsibility and proven himself to be a formidable force on Israel’s behalf worldwide – from China, where he has worked on behalf of Israel’s economy, to serving as a spokesman in the world media.

In Israel’s upcoming March elections, current polls show that the race is neck and neck between the Netanyahu-led Likud and a joint center/left party – with Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi Party placing third. Bennett’s party fell in polls last week after a brouhaha surrounding the appointment of Israeli former soccer star Eli Ohana to a safe seat in the party. Ohana is a Sephardic (Moroccan) Jew: traditional, secular, and well-known. Yet, Ohana withdrew from Bennett’s party amidst a considerable uproar for a variety of reasons, and Bennett has been condemned for the selection.

Yet, at a time when ideology and intent is largely subservient to political expediency, let’s examine the reasoning and explanations behind the Ohana appointment. When Bennett made the choice, he explained, “HaBayit HaYehudi has been accessible to all the people of Israel for a very long time now. This debate is over. When we have a secular woman in the No. 1 spot on the list, followed by Rabbi Eli Dahan, Yinon Magal and Ronen Shoval; when we have people from the army; when we have Ashkenazi and Sephardic [of Middle Eastern/North African origin] Jews; men and women; young and old — the dream has already come true.” His deputy, MK Ayelet Shaked noted, “Naftali [Bennett] wanted to include a traditional Jew of Middle Eastern origin, who had a tough childhood but succeeded.”

This is very similar to language that Menachem Begin used. “In 1977, Menachem Begin came to power, representing, for the first time, a coalition of constituencies that resented the Labor élite and felt excluded from the mainstream of Israeli life. Begin’s support came from the poorer émigrés from North Africa and Arab states; Jabotinskyite conservatives; the ultra-Orthodox; and religious Zionists, including the settlers.” Begin, who spoke so often of the need to incorporate Sephardim into society, would have applauded the concept behind Bennett’s move. This was clearly Naftali Bennett’s intent.

Bennett has quoted Theodore Roosevelt previously, and surely these words resonate now: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

No matter how many seats Bennett’s party wins this election, he is clearly a patriot – and as I wrote recently in Arutz-7, Naftali’s Bennett’s “No Apology” campaign is quite similar to Jabotinsky’s iconic 1920 essay entitled “Go to Hell.”

Interesting times are surely ahead until election day.

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  • David

    Israelim need a leader like Moses to dispense with the Western-style sycophantry once and for all and reclaim the Shlema.

  • victoria brandeis


  • Zak

    It takes quite an effort to see things from that POV.

    Considering his contempt for the gay community
    It’s funny how Bibi has recently used Jabotinsky’s views to
    Support the community and its life choices, while announcing Likuds own gay candidate.

    Anyone honestly interested in upholding Jabotinsky’s legacy
    Will recognize the abysmal divide between its liberal secular nationalism
    and Bennett’s vision of a theocratic Jewish state.

  • Paul Gross

    Except of course that neither Begin nor Jabotinsky would have wanted the Kahanist-lite Tekuma faction anywhere near it.
    In general, it seems pretty clear that Bennett’s relationship with liberal democracy is a far cry from Begin’s and Jabo’s.

  • Rachel

    A house divided cannot stand.The Israeli Knesset is radically divided on many issues regarding peace and security of the land.

    Bennett is indeed a”No Apology Man” with a “plan” to secure the land which belongs to Israel.

    The ability of Israel’s leaders to lead is greatly limited, because there is no real chart or path for the future.
    Israel needs to have the courage to defend itself according to Torah Law instead of acting in line with global prescription.

  • Mark Mintzer

    Taking from the wisdom of those who came before him… it’s time to treat our beloved country once and for all:

  • The biography of Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Lone Wolf by Shmuel Katz, is now available as an eBook:

  • Moral and ethical bankruptcy

    Americans are finding a grotesque echo to the moral and ethical bankruptcy of a substantial sector of American society: the “moral depravity” of “the Arabs” who kill innocent civilians. The barbaric slaughter of innocents under the guise of religion is more than “moral depravity”. It is an inhumane culture that teaches, educates and breeds hatred toward other societies which are not like them, which they label as “infidels”.

    There is no way this inhumane culture should be handled with kid gloves. When a poison strikes your body, you remove it and destroy it completely, leaving no trace of such poison. History has shown that these types of atrocities and acts of barbarism have increased in the past half a century and are getting worse by the day.

    With today’s advancement in technology and telecommunications, the world has shrunk. Events on one side of the world now affect everybody worldwide (Japanese Nuclear reactor fallout, ISIS barbaric acts, etc.) Events on the other side of the world now affect our health, economy, and instills fear and uncertainty in all lives. Thus, one side of the world can no longer ignore and remain unaffected by events on the other side of the world.

    The global financial crisis; the emergence of new disease; the spread of false, barbaric ideology; the escalation toward yet another world war; are all direct results of years of increasing moral and ethical bankruptcy both individually, and as a mass consciousness.

    Is today’s society heading toward annihilation, you be the judge?

    If we continue down our present path, we are headed towards annihilation!

    YJ Draiman

  • Israel has not elected a leader (Prime Minister) like Golda Meir (the grandma of Israel) again. She did not seek personal grandeur and cared about the Jewish people and Israel as if they were her own family. Her mission was to protect Israel and its people. She was heartbroken after the 1973 Yom Kippur War because of the many Jews killed and injured she considered them part of her family and she died carrying guilt for them to her grave.
    Israel needs a leader who can unify the country as much as possible and can withstand the world’s pressure on Israel. One that cares more about the Israeli people than world opinion and does away with his/her self perceived historical legacy. Capitulation to world pressure only increases the unreasonable demands and pressure by Israel’s adversaries. When the world at large sees that Israel ignores its unjustified pressure and meddling in Israel’s internal affairs more demands are brought to bear. The world will learn to respect that Israel adheres to the needs and security of its people above all.
    The Arab’s “Oil as a political weapon” is diminishing quickly. In the new era oil prices are dropping drastically and the United State is again the largest Oil producing country in the world while Israel enters the energy market with its newly found huge Natural Gas and Oil.
    Israel needs a leader like Golda Meir. One that offers no more concessions, no more appeasement, just hard core actions to protect the people of Israel at all costs and bring about peace and tranquility to the nation of Israel.
    Ben Gurion in 1947-1948 defied world pressure and especially the United States threats. His main concern was the safety of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Do we have a leader today that can act like David Ben Gurion acted in 1947-48. Had Ben Gurion not defied world pressure in 1947-48 there would be no Israel today.
    An Israeli leader to day must do the same or there will be no Israel in the future.

    YJ Draiman

    If you feel it is moral to express your sympathy for those Arabs who colonized and occupy all but a sliver of land in the Middle East, those who stone women to death, execute gays and rape little children? Those who kill people indiscriminately, suicide bombers, teach hate and violence to their children! If you believe that making Judaism illegal in every Arab country is OK? Really? The Arabs have also forced most Christians out of their countries. You leave me no choice then, but to assess you moral indignation as meaningless lawless revolting and vile. I laugh in astonishment at what hypocrites and naked bigots you are.