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June 23, 2015 1:20 pm

Obama Must Understand Jabotinsky to Understand Netanyahu

avatar by Keith Zakheim

Email a copy of "Obama Must Understand Jabotinsky to Understand Netanyahu" to a friend
Zeev Jabotinsky. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Zeev Jabotinsky. Photo: Wiki Commons.

There they go again. Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren writes a book – and a Wall Street Journal opinion piece – offering a devastating critique of Barack Obama’s treatment of Israel. And when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly asked by the U.S. Ambassador (according to an anonymous source in Haaretz) to publicly repudiate Oren, Bibi refuses.

Why is it that after 60 years of fairly connubial bliss, the U.S. and Israel now seem to be estranged lovers? Some put it down to personal antagonism between Obama and Netanyahu; or to public insults (an Obama advisor saying “Bibi is a chickens**t); or to Bibi’s un-White House sanctioned Congressional speech about Iran.

In my view, while these things have certainly not helped the relationship, it seems to me that the root of the dysfunction is neither personal nor episodic; rather, it stems from President Obama’s lack of understanding of the powerful philosophical influence of the great Zionist pioneer and thinker Ze’ev Jabotinsky on the Israeli Prime Minister.

Bibi’s father, Benzion Netanyahu, served as Jabotinsky’s personal secretary and was a devout soldier of Beitar, the Zionist youth movement Jabotinsky founded. Jabotinsky created the group based on the view that European Jewry was fated to be annihilated, that the only life preserver available to it was a Jewish state, and that only a strong, confident, and militarily powerful community could successfully build that state.

Yet, while Jabotinsky demanded strength, his philosophy was never racist jingoism. In fact, he was against forced population transfers, was the first Zionist leader to acknowledge that the Palestinians were a nation, and believed that Palestinians should not renounce their right to the land. His Zionist ethos made room for equal rights for what would become the Israeli Arab community. “From the wealth of our land,” he wrote, “there shall prosper the Arab, the Christian and the Jew.”

Bibi absorbed, and believes in, these lessons.

To understand the Israeli Prime Minister, President Obama should read “The Iron Wall,” Jabotinsky’s seminal essay on the future of the Jewish-Arab relationship. In it he writes that peace between Arab and Jew can occur only when, “there is no hope in getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall. Not till then will they drop their extremist leaders whose watchword is ‘Never.’”

The Beitar Weltanschauung is not racist, nor is it militant; rather, it is a pragmatism that the realistic school of international relations would be proud of. Until there is acceptance of the reality of the State of Israel, insisted Jabotinsky, peace between Arab and Jew would be impossible.

For those who cynically claim that Jabotinsky’s spiritual disciples use this as a convenient excuse for not making peace, history demonstrates otherwise. It was Menachem Begin, not David Ben Gurion or Golda Meir, who made peace with Egypt, despite the painful concession of returning the Sinai. Begin was not just Jabotinsky’s disciple and spiritual heir, but also his actual successor as leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement. So why did Begin make peace with Sadat? Because he was convinced over time that Sadat accepted the existence and legitimacy of a Jewish State, and to a Beitarnik, only acceptance gives birth to peace.

This is at the core of the Beitar/Likud DNA, and its cautious approach to a Palestinian State is rooted in this realism, not racism. The Palestinians do not have a Sadat, and while they may say the right things in public, their incendiary Friday sermons in the mosque, the anti-Semitic textbooks and the official glorification of terrorists belie their diplomatic talking points. President Obama will never understand Bibi, nor will he ever truly understand the dynamics of the Middle East, until he internalizes this reality.

Keith Zakheim is the CEO of Beckerman, an East Coast public affairs and real estate public relations agency, and Antenna Group, an energy technology, life sciences and high technology PR firm. 


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  • Wm. J. Levy

    I love Jabotinsky although David Ben-Gurion hated him and called him Vladimir Hitler.

    Shame that those Jews in Palestine didn’t send Jews to kill Hitler in the 1920’s but then most of the Zionists were pacifists and even Ben-Gurion didn’t want a national army.

    We can all get along is what he believed.


  • Melanie

    it is amazing to me that people still believe that one man, such as
    Obama is in control? Amazing that people can “think” they know what is
    Really going on?

    We have a Global Mafia and Israel is a part of the Glibalists.
    None of us will know the truth. All of this comes down to fight for money,
    Power, control, Greed.

    The puppet masters are not even in the “Chess Board”
    in the public eye.

    The Global Public wants peace and to live well.

    It will be refreshing when the generation of baby boomers
    Vacate the planet.

    Sad for the baby boomers that never lost their way.

    The baby boomers have been the most destructive generation in this
    Planet … war for money and science without conscious?

    Until the Global Public stops playing God themselves and starts unifying
    Humanity is looking at extinction.

    I wish we could fast forward 30 years so almost all baby boomers were
    Off this planet.

  • Barrack Hussein Obama face it – Greater Israel is Jewish territory for eternity and it is not negotiable.
    The Arabs already have Jordan which is 80% of the territory allocated to the Jewish people under International Treaties from 1920.
    Stop fantasizing and deluding yourself and the rest of the world. Greater Israel is for the Jewish people, according to history, archeology, international law and treaties.
    The Arabs already have 75,000 sq. miles of Jewish land (5-6 times the size of Israel) that they confiscated from the million Jewish families and their children they persecuted and expelled from Arab countries in the past 80 years. They also have the Jewish territory of Jordan.
    I think you do not have your facts straight – Israel belongs to the Jews. It has been a Jewish country for over 4,000 years and has been occupied by various Nations who let it deteriorate into a dessert. There are 22 Arab countries and only one Jewish country. The land-rich Arabs already occupy over 5 million square miles and land-poor Israel, including all of its territories, comprises only about 10,000 square miles. The Arab areas are thus 500 times larger than Israel and the Arabs already possess 99.8% of the total land. The so-called West Bank and Gaza areas combined total 2,300 square miles and comprise a miniscule 0.046% of the entire Arab empire – and to seize this speck of land the Arabs are adamant and willing to fight and die forever! Only a mind, hopelessly out of touch with reality, can seriously suggest that the Arabs need still more land, carved out of Israel, to create yet another country.
    The Quran states it clearly, Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

    The Jews never had a chance of reaching a majority in the country of Palestine after WW1, given the restrictive immigration policy of the British in violation of 1920 International treaties. By contrast, Palestine’s Arab population, which had been declining prior to the Mandate for Palestine in 1922, grew exponentially because Arabs from all the surrounding countries were free to come—and hundreds of thousands did—to take advantage of the rapid economic development and improved health conditions stimulated by Zionist settlement and Worldwide Jewish financial support for development of Israel.

    Historical archives lays bare the false claim that Jewish settlers dispossessed Arab people from their land in Palestine. The examination of records from 1830 onward will shock most people.

    In the first place, records shows that Palestine’s population barely grew for 250 years–rising from 205,000 Muslims, Christians and Jews in 1554 to only 275,000 in 1800. In the second, records from 1830, 1863, 1878 and 1893 and 1917, among others, demonstrate that when the heaviest Jewish immigration to Palestine began in 1880, a large proportion of the 425,000 to 440,000 Arabs in Palestine were themselves new and recent immigrants.

    The research also carefully documents the origins of those Arab immigrants into Palestine. Many came from Egypt: The 1831 invasion by the Egyptian Khedive, Ibrahim Pasha, forced Palestine fellaheen, urban dwellers and Bedouin to permanently flee Ottoman military drafts and taxes. The 1837 Great Earthquake and epidemics that followed further cut their numbers. In their wake came Ibrahim Pasha’s Egyptian Arabs, who settled the empty land. In 1831 alone, 6,000 Egyptian Arabs settled in Akko. The Egyptian Arab-Hinadi, Ghawarna tribes settled in the Beit Shean and Hula Valleys and in the Jordan Valley towns of Ubeidiya, Delhamiya and Kafer-Miser. In the Hula Valley, the Egyptian ez-Zubeids later sold their land to Jewish settlers from Yessud-Hama’ala. According to an 1893 British Palestine Exploration Fund report, Egyptians made up most of the population in Jaffa.

    Additionally, Records shows, Arab and Muslim immigrants also came from Algeria, Damascus, Yemen, Afghanistan, Persia, India, Tripoli, Morocco, Turkey and Iraq. The French conquest of Algeria, for example, led to the eventual rebellion and imprisonment of Abd el-Kadar el-Hassani, whose followers in 1856 fled to Syria and the Lower Galilee towns of Shara, Ulam, Ma’ader, Kafer-Sabet, Usha (near present-day Ramat-Yohanan), the Mount Atlas village of Qedesh and villages on Lake Hula and in the Upper Galilee, where they spoke Berber. In Ramle, immigrants spoke Qebili, a Mugrabi dialect. Circassian refugees from the Caucasus settled in Trans-Jordan and as far east as Caesarea.

    Arab immigration continued to rise through World War I, as research documents, despite locusts, the Ottoman draft and more epidemics. Egyptian laborers, contractors and businessmen flooded the country. By 1922, the Moslem population had more than doubled to 566,311, including 62,500 Bedouins. The 1931 Mandatory government census counted 693,147 permanent Moslem residents, including 66,553 Bedouins. It also gave the natural increase of the population as 132,211 — 57,125 less than the absolute increase. Only illegal Arab immigration explains this contradiction, research shows.

    The next census in 1948, as the research recounts, followed unprecedented economic growth by the Jewish immigration, during which illegal Arab immigration continued and increased substantially. From April 1934 to November 1935, for example, 20,000 Haurani Arabs families came to Palestine. These and tens of thousands of other Arab immigrants worked on farms, construction projects (building roads, railroads and the Haifa port), and government and municipal jobs. Syrians and Lebanese Arabs were free to come with nothing but border passes, and they came along with immigrants from Somalia, Trans-Jordan, Persia, India, Ethiopia and the Hejaz. British Mandatory government rules required the supervision of immigration, but Palestine’s borders remained porous to all but Jews. In all, records shows that 35,000 to 40,000 illegal Arab families immigrants came from 1931 to 1947 — on top of up to 20,000 other Arab immigrants families who arrived from 1935 to 1945.
    The research also carefully examines numerous historical descriptions of a desolate landscape, composed almost entirely of swamps and deserts, and sold to the Jewish people by absentee Arab landlords, appointed by the Ottoman government, at enormous profits (those facts were confirmed by the Mufti of Jerusalem while testifying in front of the British Peel commission in 1937). Dozens of sales are documented specifically, including some by the Egyptian el-Husseini family of Yasser Arafat.
    Altogether, this research shatters the Arab claim of dispossession.

    With research and documentation, its argument, and its moral outrage — was the written description of how powerful Palestinian Arab politicians sold land at inflated prices to Jewish immigrants in Palestine-Israel, with the full understanding that once the British left, the Arab-Palestinians would steal that land back from the Jews, thus getting paid for the land a hefty price and getting the land back for free. This was a widespread, systematic scheme on the part of Arab-Palestinian land-owners and political leaders.

    Israel is a Jewish State its territories are non-negotiable. It has been a Jewish country for over 4,000 years.
    The Arab-Palestinians are the occupiers. All they want is to destroy the Jews. They educate their children and the masses to commit terror and violence against Israel. The dance in the streets when the twin towers in 9-11 collapsed and 3,000 Americans died.
    It is amazing how you and many others choose to ignore that the Arab countries have persecuted and expelled over a million Jewish families and their children from their countries in the last 90 years. Jews who lived there for over 2,200 years. The Arabs confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and real estate property 5-6 times the size of Israel – 120,440 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles which is valued in the trillions of dollars.
    Any Arab who is not happy to live under the Israeli government can move there.
    Study your history; Muhammed in 627 about 1,500 years ago beheaded 700 Jews in Medina which was a Jewish town in Saudi Arabia, he killed all the men took the women as slaves and raped their daughters. This is just the tip of the history of the Jewish people in Arab countries.
    Do you want more, study the complete unbiased history of the Jewish people in Arab countries objectively.
    How many Jews are left today in Arab countries and how many Christians have been murdered and millions forced to leave the Arab countries.
    YJ Draiman

  • Judy Silver-Shapiro

    HERR obama is an ANTI ISRAEL-ANTI SEMITE. Almost a DOZEN STILL-active members of the MB-muslim brotherhood work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave- The White House, in close proximity to the Oval Office. He is in bed with CAIR. He is muslim-born. It’s in his DNA. He is PRO islam and the most ANTI JEWISH US Pres in history. If you don’t believe me, check his record-his word and deeds toward ISRAEL (and JEWs) speak volumes!

  • I disagree with this assessment – the animus of Obama toward Israel is the root of the situation.
    Raised as a Muslim for the first 10 years of his life, his identification is set. As Jabotinsky said, Arabs will only make peace when they accept Israel and their leaders make peace. That has not and may not ever happen.

    Michael Oren’s behind the scenes peek at Obama policies tells an important tale. Not addressed were the smaller insults: Netanyahu forced to use the Service Door not the front door; no invitations to social events, told to sit and wait while Obama dined upstairs, and to “get serious about peace.”

    Small things tell BIG STORIES.

  • Mark_NYC

    I don’t think Obama’s problems with Israel and Netanyahu stem from his lack of understanding of the latter, as much as this may be true (he seems to believe that he knows what’s “best for Israel” more so than Israelis). Rather, it’s from his infatuation with being a bridge to the Muslim world, and his resultant adoption of policies that have contributed to the current turmoil in the Arab world as well as posing an existential threat to Israel by pursuing an extremely dangerous “deal” with Iran. In this regard, it is worth reading former Ambassador Michael Oren’s new book on the subject of the U.S./Israeli alliance “Ally” as well as some of the relevant commentary by Ising Liebler in his Jerusalem Post commentary.

  • Larry Andrews

    President Obama does NOT give a darn about understanding Prime Minister Netanyahu. The reason is simple. In his mind, President Obama knows what is best for Israel, and not Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Israeli people. In plain English, that is called arrogant, ignorant and naïve which perfectly describes President Obama.

  • judithg

    what obama has to understand is that his fake American president business card is about to expire. that his race baiting and his rabid dog anti semitic spewing and obsession with Israel is that of a sociopath and his view of the world and anyone in it is informed by his pathology. indeed, all his actions and activities just like any other grifter. very clearly the product of his sick mind. he is an uneducated ignoramus blabbermouth with a low intellect and a vulgar low class unteachable and unredeemable treasonous criminal.

    the author of this article apparently needs to understand a few things himself.

  • theo

    The above may be true But Obama is wedded to his ideas and reading Jabotinsky will not change him one iota ! It may even possibly make him more antagonistic to Israel This is because Jabotinsky believed in the Biblical Israel
    This would send Obama up the wall in rage
    I am afraid reading books is not the cure To coin a phrase : “Obama is Obama! “

  • Jerry Kaiden


  • Kris Kristian

    Why did US Jews vote for this Muslim into the White House, and again for a second term, knowing that he is no friend of Jews nor Israel.

    Jews must stop voting for the party. Time for them to wake up and vote for the person.
    Had they voted for Romney, not only would he have protected Israel as a true friend,he would never have allowed Iran to do as they wish.
    Obama is too weak to stop Iran.

    I am sure that Roney would have moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and made sure that anyone born in Jerusalem would be “born in Israel” that Jerusalem wouold be the undivided capaital of the jewish state of Israel.

    I opnly hope that the US Jews do not Vote for the witch Hillary, wo will be worse that Obama. Never forget how she treated Isral and the Israel PM

  • Emmett

    Nice piece of fiction. If Israel’s PM is as the article implies, why does he continue with his non-stop destruction of Jewish homes and the uprooting of Jews from their land? Why are Jews second class citizens in their own homeland and are not even afforded their basic human rights when it comes to this PM? And why does the PM take tax money from the Jews and use it to give to Israel’s sworn enemies, which enables them to continue their war effort? He is forcing Jews to finance their own murder. Not to mention the disgraceful actions he’s he’s ordered against Jews that are allowed on the Temple Mount.

  • The author makes a grave error! He does the same thing that many of the whole totality of Zionists make! He even did it while quoting Ze’ev Jabotinsky! Jabotinsky never called the PalestineArabs the Palestinians! Nobody did then! In Jabotinsky’s own writing, as when sometimes Anglo writing stumble over Argentine VS Argentinian, Jabotinsky one time called a couple of PalestineJews walking in Palestine, a couple of Palestinians! Thatis according to the English edition I read! PalestineArabs were treated with common respect, Ze’ev Jabotinsky asserted, was needed for mutually assured peace! But He never called PalestineArabs Palestinians, as nobody else did! The term in all documents was not my Web-Email one word form of spelling of PalestineArab! It was Palestine Arab, in all the documents & writings! But The Argentinian mistranslating of Argentine nouns or adjectives, problem is solved real quick with the original term ,Philistine! Nobody said Philistinian pottery, Philistinian fighters, Philistinian people or Philistinian religion! WE say Philistine pottery, Philistine fighters, Philistine people or Philistine religion! Palestine Arab, as it was written in it’s pre web, two word form, is better than Palestinian! Palestine Arab, is better than Palestinian, because it is the actual mixed identity of both Arab & Palestine identity ! It is a grave, vital identity issue of the great Arabist empire’s invading, colonizing, settling & occupying of Zion! PalestineArab sums the Arabist empire settlers’ occupation over Judaean Hebrew, Zion, Israel! PalestineArab(WebEmailOneWordSpacedSpelling),uses up only two more keyboard spaces than Palestinian! Palestinian is redundant wasted space, like Philistinian! PalestineArab tells the actual Arab Palestine identity!

  • David Stahl

    Excellent article!
    One slight correction:
    A follower of Betar is always a Betari,
    (from the Hebrew suffix), and not a Betarnik (as is the case in other Zionist youth movements.


    To understand Pres. Obama it is necessary to see exactly which advisors have given him his worldview.

    Early, as a Illinois legislator, he was very close to Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah, both who are dedicated to the absolute destruction of Israel.

    Now in the White House, he is surrounded by advisors such as Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl.

    Also, read the various articles by Michael Doran.

  • Mr Jabotinsky was absolutely right. Mr Netanyahu is absolutely right. Mr land-for-peace Kahlon (which land?) is absolutely wrong. When Mr Netanyahu says that Israel has to defend itself, by itself, he knows what he’s talking about. And, of course, he knows the Bible and trusts God’s written Word.

  • To understand Israel in general, one can read Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky by Shmuel Katz in two volumes, now available as an eBook (

  • Face it, Keith Zakheim, you are wrong about Obama. He isn’t looking for accurate knowledge or understanding; he has his mind made up. He is Muslim, he is a narcissist, a glory-seeker.

    He hates Judaeo-Christian belief, the US and Israel. It’s that simple. Your psychoanalyses only serve to muddy the waters and delay understanding of the essential nature of the conflict. You’ll see.

  • Sammy Eppel

    I don’t know Mr. Zakheim, but i am an admirer of Jabotinsky and philosophically Obama will never understand the roots of Netanyahu. Mr. Zakheim is devastating and rigth on target. Good for him…..

  • steven L

    The US President origin and upbringing and affiliation makes him unable to understand the Jewish condition and Israel.
    That is why he has a significant responsibility in the increase of antisemitism and anti-Zionism in the past six and half years.

  • dante

    you haven’t caught on. obama is not interested in “understanding” Netanyahu or Israel or the Jews (or very many others). obama has his prejudices and preconceptions and he will not be moved; he’s not going to allow anything to interfere with his prejudices. he savors them. he luxuriates in the them. he wallows in them (as if they were the product of some personal struggle against adversity).

    the facts don’t mean a thing to him because he has come to believe that he can dictate what the facts are.