Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky

Jewish Current Issues

The lead feature today at the indispensable Jewish Ideas Daily is Eliot Jager’s article on Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940): “The Lone Wolf.”

Jager notes that his 70th yahrzeit was marked on July 11 at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, but that:

    There was nary a mention of it in the Israeli media—an extraordinary omission given that Jabotinsky was not only a founder of the Haganah and the supreme commander of the Irgun but also a towering Zionist theoretician and leader.

JI Daily also links to Hillel Halkin’s beautiful 2005 review of Jabotsinky’s 1938 novel, “The Five” (also reviewed with great insight at BtB by Anne Lieberman, author of the magnificent essay on Jabotinsky in American Thinker entitled “Two Jews”).

Halkin wrote that:

    Outside of Israel … Jabotinsky has been largely forgotten; and if he is remembered at all, it is generally as the reputedly extremist, even fascistic, Zionist leader of the British Mandate- period Revisionist Party, the political grandfather of today’s Likud. … This is a pity, not only because Jabotinsky was a European liberal who despised fascism, but also because he was one of the most intelligent, talented, honest, and likeable of all twentieth-century politicians.

Shmuel Katz, in still another JI Daily link, noted that:

    When on August 8, 1940 Arthur Koestler, one of the great literary figures of the 20th century, heard that Jabotinsky had died, he wrote in his diary: ‘Jabo is dead… Exit one of the great tragic figures of the century, unnoticed … Adored hero of the Jewish masses in Russia and Poland … Most fascinating orator I ever heard … One great friend less…’

In honor of his yahrzeit, here is one of Jabotinsky’s oft-repeated sayings, written almost a hundred years ago, and still as relevant today as when it was first written :

    “We [Jews] do not have to apologize for anything. We are a people as all other peoples; we do not have any intentions to be better than the rest. As one of the first conditions for equality we demand the right to have our own villains, exactly as other people have them.”

Read all the links — in honor of an extraordinary man, in partial payment of a debt we all owe, and because we need to re-learn (and in many cases learn for the first time) many of the things he spent a lifetime writing.

July 24, 2010 | Comments »

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