100 years later, Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s hawkish Zionism sounds like a formula for peace – opinion

T. Belman. The wishful thinking persists. Hope burns eternal.

Does this mean that the Israeli Iron Wall has been cracked? Nothing of the sort.

By Uri Dromi, JTA  DECEMBER 14, 2023 03:48

One hundred years ago, in November 1923, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of the greatest leaders of the Zionist movement and definitely the one with the greatest foresight, wrote in Berlin a seminal article in the Razsviet (Dawn, in Russian) newspaper, titled “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs).” His main argument was that in order for the Zionists to succeed in settling the Land of Israel and persist in living there, they must create an “Iron Wall” that will thwart Arab ambitions to eradicate the Zionist enterprise. It is worth quoting him at some length:

I do not mean to assert that no agreement whatever is possible with the Arabs of the Land of Israel. But a voluntary agreement is just not possible. As long as the Arabs preserve a gleam of hope that they will succeed in getting rid of us, nothing in the world can cause them to relinquish this hope, precisely because they are not a rabble but a living people. And a living people will be ready to yield on such fateful issues only when they have given up all hope of getting rid of the alien settlers. Only then will extremist groups with their slogans “No, never” lose their influence, and only then will their influence be transferred to more moderate groups. And only then will the moderates offer suggestions for compromise. Then only will they begin bargaining with us on practical matters, such as guarantees against pushing them out, and equality of civil and national rights.

Working under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and hence being a veteran of the Oslo Process, I read these wise 100-year-old words with mixed feelings. Last month, Jabotinsky’s grandson, also called Ze’ev, a retired pilot whom I had instructed at the Israel Air Force Academy ages ago, wrote that Oslo had cracked the Iron Wall, and rekindled in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians the hope that eventually they will succeed in their long-range plan to destroy Israel. Needless to say, the Hamas terrorists who breached the literal wall aimed at guarding Israelis living near Gaza only reinforced his words.

On the other hand, no one can seriously tell what might have happened had Yigal Amir not assassinated Rabin. Until then, the Iron Wall seemed to have worked: Egypt, Israel’s mightiest enemy, came to the peace table in 1977 because Anwar Sadat had realized, after the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria in 1973, that Israel could not be defeated militarily. Jordan then followed in 1994, and in 2002 the Arab League adopted the Saudi Initiative calling for peace with Israel. Finally, with the Abraham Accords, other Arab countries accepted Israel as an accomplished fact.

This, however, doesn’t yet apply to the Palestinians. Unlike the other Arab players, their dispute with Israel is over the same piece of land. Had Rabin not been assassinated, normalization between Israelis and Palestinians might have progressed, and radical elements on both sides might have been marginalized, opening the door to a two-state solution. That, sadly, didn’t happen, and we know what the Palestinians now think: A public opinion poll conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in early September shows that 53% of Palestinians support an armed struggle against Israel while only 20% are in favor for negotiating with it. Another poll, taken by the Arab World for Research and Development during the fourth week of the Israel-Hamas war, showed that 75% of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank support the Oct. 7 massacre, and 85% percent reject coexistence with Israel.

Has the Israeli Iron Wall been cracked?

Does this mean that the Israeli Iron Wall has indeed been cracked? Nothing of the sort. Today, like in the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago, after the initial painful surprise came an awesome recovery on the part of Israel. No one in our bad neighborhood — Palestinians included — can miss our response to the Oct. 7 attack, whose aim is the destruction of Hamas. And along with the military side of our resilience, there emerged the famous Israeli solidarity and resourcefulness, combining together in the vow: We Are Here to Stay.

Readers who know Jabotinsky as the godfather of the hawkish Revisionist movement may find it hard to square his views with eventual compromise. But perhaps, having seen once again the futility of trying to defeat Israel on the battlefield, a Palestinian leadership will emerge that will, like Sadat, and as Jabotinsky predicted, begin “bargaining with us on practical matters, such as guarantees against pushing them out, and equality of civil and national rights.’” [nonsense]

When the Palestinians finally accept that, then we should adhere to other important words of Jabotinsky, who advocated equal rights for the Arabs sharing with us the same land. That, however, would demand changes in the hearts and minds of Israelis as well.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.

December 14, 2023 | 12 Comments »

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  1. Uri Dromi covers his failure political failure with Oslo by charging that the israelis are the one to blame for their lack of vision ; a quite abject reasoning when one remember the suicide-bombers of Hamas and assassination squads of Tanzim – Ezzedine Al Qassem PLO proxies who killed 1500 israelis and wounded 4500 . Shomon Peres, Uri Dromi’s friend had the bad taste to nickname those jews killed and maimed ” Korbanot shel Shalom” . So who is the side who lacked vision ?
    The truth is Uri Dromi-Pérès – Rabin followed Martin Buber ” Brith Shalom ” script of the 1920’s , which had already failed. So it is with total indecency that Mr Dromi pretend now – 30 years after Oslo – that he was inspired by Jabotinsky . Another fakery from the left ..no surprise here . In reality Dromi-Pèrès adopted blindly the Jacob Israel de Haan ( 1881-1924 ) posture of blind love of the arab narrative.

  2. @Raphael
    Also, Israel was under a great deal of pressure from the US to accept the treaty. The US very badly wanted to move what was previously a major Soviet client state into the US’ sphere of influence. This was the goal which Kissenger actually plotted out when he required Israel to also accept a first strike before responding.

    In addition to this, Sadat actually was negotiating, simultaneously with both the Israeli govt and the Israeli opposition parties and the US govt. So the terms being pressed on Israel were also being used to manipulate the stability of the Israeli govt. You should read the Eidelberg’s short book. Sadat was a pronounced antisemite, and only accepted ‘peace’ as an alternative to being destroyed in a war. By making peace, he was able to advance his armies towards Jerusalem, put Egypt into the equation with the alliance between Israel and the US, and still have the option of successfully doing in the future that which he failed to do in 1973 when he was also entertaining conversations with the US about peace with Israel.

    Sadat wasn’t just a scoundrel, he was a very smart scoundrel. I would argue that his death was not that of a peace loving man, but rather of a rouge who came to be stewed in his own mischief, which his allies would not tolerate.

  3. Raphael-

    Show some common sense. Israel has always wanted but rarely got PEACE. Israel wanted to live amicably with it’s neighbours. But the Arab hatred of successful Jews who once had to walk making sure their heads did not rise above any Arab, was too generational and vicious to abate.

    Sadat was a voluble schemer, and Nasser’s confidant and Vice Pres.
    How could anyone expect a man of his precedents to be anything but what he was-an Arab scoundrel and liar. And he looked exactly like a “used car salesman”..

    Israel was much less populated in those days, 50% of it’s Budgets went into Defence, and it could not afford to permanently hold on to Sinai with any kind of success. They would always have to keep a very strong defensive line between Israel and Sinai itself even though theoretically, it was now Israel property. Which is why Yamit never grew from more than a small town of a couple of thousand, and the other settlements along the border in Sinai were equally stunted.

    Begin, grandiloquently announced that he intended to retire to Yamit, but it was only expansive bluff.

    There were 90 mill Arabs in Egypt and it would only be a matter of time that Egypt would make war again,, with Israel overstretched past it’s limit.
    You must recall that the defensive lines that Israel had along the Suez, between 1967 and 1973 were often fake and badly undermanned. There were no more than about 5-6,000 IDF there which had to face a surprise attack attack of a whole Egyptian Army Corps, supposedly just on manoeuvres..

    Read up on it I’m sure you’ll change your attitude.

    So they were outnumbered by about 10-1.

  4. @ Edgar and @peloni I appreciate your better informed opinions of Sadat. But let me ask, if Sadat was such a scoundrel, then why did Israel enter into a treaty with him, and give the Sinai back? Israel was surely not that uninformed or naive at the time.

  5. @Raphael
    I would argue that Edgar’s analysis is quite correct.

    Personally, i do not believe that Sadat ever had peace in mind while negotiating and manipulating Israel to his desires of annihilating the Jewish State entirely. I think Paul Eidelberg’s insightful book ‘Sadat’s Strategy’ is quite persuasive in elucidating the fact that Sadat’s peace plan was only intended to destroy Israel one piece at a time. It is a short book, more of a collection three essays on the subject, with the first chapter being persuasive enough to stand on its own at only about 15 pages. It is available free online at this link:

    Give it a read and see if it doesn’t change your mind.

    Sadat was a manipulative scoundrel, an admirer and supporter of the Nazis with the goal of making Israel his own Middle Eastern Czechoslovakia two or three bites snack. His goal was not peace with Israel but Israel’s utter destruction.

  6. Dinestar-

    You are quite right about Arafat. I recall the very same thing. It was only a stage in Arafat’s planning, and his intifada erupted shortly after, insidiously at first -then openly.

  7. Raphael-

    Whe The Israeli artillery was positioned to reach Cairo, a neutral observer suggested to him “to being up your reserves”..

    Sadat actually wrong his hands and psnted..’Reserves,,,what reserves, I have No reserves”..

    This Report was in the Jerusalem Post of that period.

    ANd, contrary to your “lauding” of Sadat, he was of the opinion that the Jews were fools. He is known to have said, “for a piece of paper I got back all Sinai”..

    I think Golda’s” Philosophical” remarks are apocryphal. The news video shows Sadat seated about 2-3 seats away from Golda and only a couple of inconsequential comments were made, Golda seemed to be out of it saying almost nothing.

    It was others who seemed the”machers”.

  8. Here Uri Dromi has made an attempt to exempt himself and his Oslo gang of the colossal blunder they engineered . To remember here that Jabotinsky was lucid is a cover-up of the left going astray when it embraced the narrative of the enemy . Jabotinsky would have never ever made the pathetic cross-dressing act you made with Oslo . Not only you Dromi and your friends you went astray but now 30 years after you still refuse to recognize your mistakes , so you try to present yourself as a follower of Jabotinsky far fetched conclusions ; you just made another grotesque lie . So you finalize 1) It was all the fault of of one lunatic murderer Yigal Amir 2) Our Oslo plan was grandiose 3) Arafat was a good guy 4) It’s the human defects in the minds and hearts of many Israelis which will always impair the implementation our Oslo vision.
    Mr Dromi on which planet were you in 1990-1992 and are you still on the same planet ?
    Mr Dromi , since you are gifted with such out of this world qualities can you get a walk back to your planet and stay there ?

  9. Egypt, Israel’s mightiest enemy, came to the peace table in 1977 because Anwar Sadat had realized, after the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria in 1973, that Israel could not be defeated militarily

    The realization that Israel could not be defeated militarily might have been the strongest incentive at the time for Egypt to make peace, but I also think that it was in no small part due to Sadat himself, unique as a muslim, in his willingness to make peace with Israel. For this he paid with his life.

    I remember a story I heard about a conversation he supposedly had with with Golda Meir, in which he asked her, “Can you forgive us for killing your sons?”, to which she is said to have answered, “We can forgive you for killing our sons, but we cannot forgive you for making us kill your sons.” Golda’s reply was extraordinary and bears much contemplation. The point is that there may be thoughtful, moral, and peace-loving men even within Islam….But there still needs to be a “Iron Wall”, because there are many more muslim savages than there are peaceable ones.

  10. Actually Kahane had the right idea. The Palestinians were all raised to hate Jews. They believe Jews are dogs and monkeys who stole their land.

    It is wishful thinking to believe that there are any significant amount of Palestinians who would truly support with Israel.

    Peace only can come with victory and getting rid of the all the terrorists and their supporters.

  11. Mr Dromi , despite having started well , you stumble again – like any other dreamer , pure soul , liberal , moderate, pragmatic etc…- when you state “Had Rabin not been assassinated , normalization might have progressed and rafical elements might have been marginalized leading to a two state solution…” ; You didn’t knew Arafat boasting on Jordan television 12 days ( twelve days ) before signing the Oslo agreements that it was part of the PLO temporary stages – Phases Strategy – to employ also diplomatic agreements to facilitate the renewal of armed struggle at a later stage ? I personally heard the same strategy openly explained by a high ranking french military officer Colonel Philippe Rondot in an academic circle . So I can guess Israeli leaders were aware of Arafat duplicity , and decided they should anyway take that gamble despite having no chance to reach success . Therefore the Rabin assassination had no impact on the PLO strategy ; quite the contrary it pushed Arafat to activate the suicide bombers ( 1500 israelis killed , 5000 wounded ). Coming back to 2023 , nothing has changed inside the fanatic jews haters nicknamed palestinians . Same old hatred , so Jabotinsky was lucid and remain the one and only thinker to follow .

  12. Such a Palestinian leadership might emerge once Israel destroys all the terrorist groups and occupies of of Palestine west of the Jordan, and puts all the terrorists in detention centers and subjects them to reeducation. Perhaps then after 3-5 years of reeducation, a non-terrorist leader4ship might emerge. Unfortunately, the “international community” led by the United States would do everything in its power to prevent such a solution.