Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jabotinsky

When Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky was born on 13 Cheshvan (October 18) 1880, in Odessa, it was probably inconceivable that he would become a staunch advocate for the resettlement of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel or that he would be known to history as Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

Jabotinsky began his writing career in his teens under the pseudonym Altalena. While living in Italy and Switzerland, he served as a cultural correspondent for several Russian newspapers. He was so popular that he was asked to come to Odessa for a full-time position.

After the horrible Kishinev Pogroms shocked Ukrainian Jewry, Jabotinsky went from being a passive supporter to an active proponent of Zionism. He attended the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, and then spent the next several years traveling throughout the Jewish world encouraging Jewish self-defense and advocating for the Zionist cause.

At the beginning of World War I, Jabotinsky realized that the Zionist cause needed the Ottomans to be defeated. Together with Joseph Trumpeldor, he helped create the Zionist Mule Corp, which became the Jewish Legion of the British Army. However, after the war, he concluded that the British were not sincere about helping to  form the Jewish state. His leadership in the Haganah, a paramilitary organization, which led to his arrest in 1920. Although he was sentenced to 15 years for illegal arm possession, loud protests against his arrest led to his release.

In 1923, Jabotinsky, irate over the division of Transjordan from Palestine, broke with the larger Zionist body. Jabotinsky’s new movement, Revisionist Zionism, opposed both British assistance and the socialist bias of the general Zionist movement. He also formed the Betar youth movement to advocate his viewpoint. Revisionist Zionists in the Haganah formed the sub-group known as the Irgun, whose actions were more aggressive than the Haganah’s.

The British took advantage of Jabotinsky's 1930 speakng tour and revoked his visa to Palestine. He continued to promote his cause while also advocating for an evacuation plan for the Jews of Poland, Hungary and Romania.

In 1940, while speaking at a Betar summer camp in upstate New York, Jabotinsky suffered a fatal heart attack at age 59. He was buried at the campsite until 1964, when his remains were brought to Israel and laid to rest on Mt. Herzl.


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