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October 17, 1980 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-10-17

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54 October 17, 1980

Vladimir Jabotinsky ---- Unheeded Zionist Prophet

(Continued from Page 72)
, As 1938 progressed, we of
the Irgun insisted that seri-
ous planning and prepara-
tion must commence for an
all-out battle against the
Mandatory power, for tear-
ing down all barriers to im-
migration, for a campaign
among the Diaspora youth
to enlist and train them for
the coming battle of libera-
We considered the chap-
ter of political Zionism,
based on cooperation with
Britain, as ended. We asked
Jabotinsky to help by put-
ting at our disposal the dip-
lomatic links the New
Zionist Organization estab-
lished in Eastern and Cen-
tral Europe. Together, the
NZO, the Irgun and Betar
expanded the "free immi-
gration" to Palestine.
The year, 1938 was the
critical year in Jabotins-
ky's political thinking.
He was torn between his
ingrained humanism
which inclined him to put
his faith in Britain, as op-
posed to the realities.
Jabotinsky was a 19th
Century liberal, not a revo-
lutionary. His affection and
admiration for the demo-
cratic, Judeophile British
tradition did not let go of
him, except as conditions
became critical and omin-
ous in Europe in late 1938.
As late as February 1938,
at the New Zionist Organ-
ization convocation in Vie-
nna, the key pragmatic
platform was a 10-year plan
to transfer one million Jews
to Palestine.
We Irgun young men who


attended paid scant atten-
tion to it..In the following
months the Irgun had
moved ahead with its own
momentum or evolving into
a revolutionary. army. It
continued to build its bases
in Palestine and Eastern
Europe, accumulating
weapons, creating a cadre
of trained officers and rank
and file. Experience was
gained by moving
thousands of "illegal" im-
migrants into Palestine.
And during all these
months in 1938, the ac-
tivists of the Irgun con-
tinued their pressure on
Jabotinsky to identify
with the next phase of
Political - Humanitarian -
Zionism, the revolution-
ary phase.
True to his tradition,
Jabotinsky not only talked
to, but also listened to the
youth and the masses in the
"danger zone" and in Pales-
tine. He warned again and
again of the monstrous
forces let loose on the conti-
nent. He was shocked by the
callousness of the British
Colonials to the daily
growth in the Nazi attacks.
Following the occupation
of Austria in March 1938,
Jabotinsky was further de-
eply affected by the heroism
of the Hebrew youth in
Ben-Yosef went to the
gallows in July 1938, dig-
nified, with Jabotinsky's
name on his lips, the first
Hebrew fighter to be exe-
cuted by the British in the
unfolding fight for indepen-
Events in Europe in
1938 kept their unswerv-


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ing advance. The Jews of British blockage on a larger existent for the duration.
Jabotinsky presented
Austria were being expel- scale, but the traditional
led, imprisoned and Zionist leadership, includ- his case to the British,
murdered. The Evian ing David Ben-Gurion, and later at lower levels,
Conference on Refugees overruled it. As late as the to the American govern-
came and went, with the Zionist Congress in Zurich ment. His campaign was
word Jew rarely pro- (August 1939) on the eve of. ignored on both sides of
nounced. The infamous the war, Rabbi Hillel Silver the ocean. It was belittled
"Crystal Night" murder- stood up before his col- and scoffed at by the es-
ously engulfed German leagues and warned against tablishment Jews, al-
any "hasty, immature ven- though he was listened to
controlled lands.
Jabotinsky was under tures in Palestine . . ." This by the masses in
unrelenting pressure from was his contribution to a Whitechapel and the East
events, from the nucleus of debate on running the Side of New York.
In April 1940, he came to
activists in Palestine, from British blockade which
an ever-growing number of . tightened its noose around the United States to
mobilize public opinion —
militants among his the Jews of Europe.
By August 1939, Jewish and non-Jewish —
younger followers in the
Jabotinsky was finalizing on behalf of a Jewish army,
By the end of 1938, the plans for an armed land- and to secure help to save
Jabotinsky at last gave in. ing in Palestine, the occupa- Jews fleeing from the Ger-
He placed himself at the tion of the British High man danger. He failed in
head of the Hebrew Revolu- Commissioner's HQ in _both efforts.
Obstinately the British,
tion. From now on he Jerusalem, and the rising of
thought, planned and acted the white and blue flag over the United States concur-
as the supreme commander the Tower of David. And ring, rejected an appeal to
then he hoped to appeal form a national Jewish
of the Irgun.
He was familiar with from there to the League of military fighting force be-
Garibaldi's March of the Nations and the British cause it meant a seat at the
Thousand which led toward people. After 2,000 years, Allies Council for Jews.
the unification of Italy; he the Jews with arms in their Once a Jewish national
was aware of the events and hands will speak to the con- identity was recognized
consequences of the tragic science of the world. through an army, it meant
On the night of Aug. 31, representation in the post-
1916 Irish Easter revolt.
The planned armed the Irgun High Command war world, diplomatically
landings in Palestine and met in Tel Aviv to study and territorially.
These failures, of which
the declaration of the and respond to Jabotins-
Hebrew revolt might not ky's minute and detailed Jabotinsky forwarned in his
result in the instant crea- plan. They were arrested. book, "The War and the
This was a serious blow to Jew," completed in April
tion of the Hebrew repub-
lic, but it might break the the project. But it need not 1940, tragically capped the
deadlock between the have been fatal. What was career of a man who towered
British colonial rule and fatal to it — and to six mil- head and shoulder above
the critical need of the lion Jews — was that within the Jewish Zionist leader-
Jewish masses for a life- six hours the Germans ship during the years be-
crossed the Polish border. tween the two wars.
saving haven.
Jabotinsky did not abdi-
Jabotinsky did not It is usually barren to
cate from political action. foresee another World War. compare historic per-
At the same time that he He predicted the destruc- sonages. Nevertheless,
discussed with his son Eri tion of Europe's Jewry, but there is a lot in common
and this writer our chances not as a side effect of an in- in the historical-political
to expand our free immigra- - ternational conflagration. careers of Winston Chur-
tion and shipping activities He was wrong, but not to the chill and Zeev
(December 1938), he re- extent of being immobilized Jabotinsky. In the de-
cades between the two
quested his close col- in thought or action.
laborator Robert Briscoe,
On Sept. 1, 1939, he is- wars, both were consid-
the Jewish member of the sued a call to Jews ered Cassandras, not to
Irish Parliament, to embark everywhere to join France be taken too seriously.
on a mission to the United and Britain in their fight Both centered on preach-
States, to approach "for those very foundations ing for strength and pre-
President Roosevelt with of society whose Magna paredness, both warned
of the unique viciousness
the plan to transfer a mil- Carta is our Bible."
Jabotinsky asked that of Nazism, both lived to
lion Jews within two years
Jews who were not see their dire warnings
to Palestine.
The groundwork for such mobilized in the Allied turn into dark reality.
an approach was laid in armies bq given the Then the similarity
meetings with the Ameri- chance and right to fight ended.
Churchill was called by
can ambassadors in War- in a Jewish army. This his people at the moment of
saw and London.
The last months of his life crisis to the helm of the gov-
Briscoe's mission failed.'
dedicated to mobiliz- ernment and he led them to
He never managed to reach
the White House, although ing Jewish activism and victory.
Except for Eastern
he was received by (retired) overcome the Allies' policy
and in his last years,
Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Jewish survival from the Jabotinsky
was ignored by
and though he had the as- consciousness of the Allied his people to the end. As the
sistance of James Farley, people, and excluding a smell of death rose from the
the top man of the Demo-
Jewish participation in the ghettos of Poland,
cratic Party's hierarchy.
Jabotinsky's heart gave out.
as Jews.
As the months passed, war
The Allied policy was to He died, almost a stranger
Jabotinsky warned once
the Jews invisible for to the American Jewish
again (June 1939) that make
the duration: First to community, separated from
"we cannot go back to a counter German prop- his wife (who stayed in
normal agenda ... the al- aganda that Gentile-Allied "blitzed" London), from his
ternative (to action) is de- blood was being spilt in a son in a British jail in Pales-
struction! ... my honora-
ble friends — memorize Jewish war; second, to meet tine.
His last, lonely, sick
this word: D-e-s-t-r-u-c- British warnings that
t-i-o-n. The wolf is at the Jewish armed units, and months were spent in a tiny
recognition of a Jewish na- furnished room on Manhat-
door ..."
The world ignored him. tional entity meant a claim tan's West Side.
A leader of a nation is the
The Jewish-Zionist leader- on Palestine.
who analytically and
ship, by now, seeing at least
the catastrophe approach, would alienate the powerful logically perceives and de-
begged the British to help. Arabs of the Near East. As fines its goals for safe survi-
Jabotinsky put it in early val and existence; who
They were ignored.
Some in Palestine, in the 1940, the consensus was communicates them to the
ranks of the Socialists, were then (and later when the people; inspires people to
ready to turn toward physi- United States joined the Al- place these goals above all
cal resistance, breaking the lies) to make the Jews, non- other selfish desires; who

instills in them faith that
their will would realize
these goals.
To do that, Jabotinsky
spoke a language of na-
tional realism and logic.
He challenged the Jews
to regain their ability to
think as a nation, to
cleanse their minds of
neurosis and self-
deprecation, to face their
fate and destiny ration-
He taught the inevitabil-
ity of a Jewish exodus from
East-Central Europe.
That that exodus is possi-
ble only to a Jewish state.
That there is no suitable
site for the Jewish state but
one — the ancient home!
That the moral right to
that state and land is unas-
That the Arabs in
Palestine and elsewhere
will oppose it to the end.
That armed strength is
not an abstract subject.
That interests and re-
spect dictate relations be-
tween nations.
All this was strange, sus-
pect, and often anathema to
the Jews. Jews had lost the
ability to think about their
fate and destiny effectively.
Most Jews, even those
willing to face the challeng-
ing issues — not a majority
in the 1930s — did not fully
understand Jabotinsky's
message. The inevitable
catastrophe followed.
Fate deprived the
Jewish people and the
renascent Hebrew nation
at their moment of truth,
of the powerful, uninhib-
ited voice of a charisma-
tic, unique leader. Given
a few more years of life
he, the powerful orator,
outstanding novelist, lin-
guist and poet, could
have shaken and pro-
dded the conscience of
the West sufficiently to
save millions.
Had he lived one more de-
cade, he could have guided
the struggle for Jewish sur-
vival and Hebrew indepen-
Fate did not will it. His-
tory followed its abysmal
course. The Jewish people
paid dearly for ignoring a
unique son and teacher. To-
day, Israel still pays — and
will continue to pay dearly
— for not having taken his
teachings to its heart.

* * *

Herut Will Mark

The Jabotinsky Society P I.
Herut Zionists of Ameri
will observe the 100th an-
niversary of the birth of
Vladimir Jabotinsky 8 p.m.
WcdneSday in the youth
lounge of Cong. Beth
According to provisional
president Simon Cieck Is-
raeli films will be shown
and Rabbi Milton Arm will
evaluate the life of
Jabotinsky. The public is
The Jabotinsky Society is
the name of the re-
organized United Zionists
Revisionists — Herut
organization of D^',roit.

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