Remembering Ze’ev Jabotinsky 80 Years After His Death
Ze’ev Jabotinsky died on August 4, 1940 — yet so much of what this great Zionist visionary said is still relevant today.
Picture Jabotinsky urging the Jews in Europe to leave in the days before the Holocaust. Picture the days before the State of Israel, when the Irgun forced the British to leave the land. Picture the boys of Betar, the youth movement Jabotinsky formed, who protected Jews who visited the Western Wall when Jews needed protection going there.
Those who have read and studied the work and words of Jabotinsky realize that this man’s ideology offers — as he said — a proper “philosophy of life” and a guide to how to live life as a Jew.
There are many lessons that he taught us, but I would like to impart five key principles that are vitally relevant to our people, and the world in which we live, today.
Principal 1: Ahavat Yisrael — love of Jewry. Jabotinsky taught us we must stand by our fellow Jews — and love them as our own.
From Jewish education and learning Hebrew, to standing up and speaking out for the Jewish people, we must instill a love of Jewish culture and religion in ourselves, our children, and all future generations. And we must speak out against antisemitism whenever we see it, even if it’s unpopular at the time.
Principal 2: Hadar: According to Betar.org, Hadar is a Hebrew word that is hardly translatable into another language. It combines various concepts such as outward beauty, respect, self-esteem, politeness, and faithfulness.
According to Betar, “Hadar Betar” must be the daily goal of each one of us: our every step, gesture, word, action, and thought must always be strictly executed from the Hadar viewpoint. In so many ways, it is the total essence of what it means to have Jewish pride. Be a good person. Stand up. Have moral values. Have decency. Be grand, be strong, and sharp, courteous, and honest. Hadar is to do what is right, and not what is popular or convenient. Hadar is honor, splendor, glory, the mission of Jews having a backbone.
Principal 3: Barzel (iron) — be not afraid. Do not allow Jews to be taken advantage of. We must support Jews who fight and protect the Jewish people. The philosopher Max Nordau has been quoted as telling Jabotinsky that “the Jew learns not by way of reason, but from catastrophes. He won’t buy an umbrella merely because he sees clouds in the sky. He waits until he is drenched and catches pneumonia.”
Principal 4: Unity is one of the biggest problem Jews have faced throughout history.
Stand united in the face of the enemy — and be comfortable standing alone in unity. Today, Jewish unity is more needed than ever as we face threats at home and abroad, and the State of Israel is under constant attack. Jews must put aside their differences, and remember their shared values and history.
Principle 5: Bitachon (faith). Have faith in the indestructibility of the Jewish people. Strength matters. And faith is strength on so many levels. This includes faith in a free economy, faith in (and fear of) God, and faith in strong Jewish self-defense.
To our eternal teacher Jabotinsky, I say thank you. The words of Jabotinsky are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them many years ago.
Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive. Zeevjabotinsky.com is a project of the Ronn Torossian Family Foundation.