Friday, December 06, 2013

Peter Beinart and Wise and ... Jabotinsky

Peter Beinart, of the Open Zion blog site, proclaimed Stephen Wise his hero in his book, Crisis of Zionism, which I criticized at the time (and should have continued further as I did with his cocoon article).


A good reason is now in Rick Richman's article on Jabotinsky in1940 in America:

The most remarkable fact in the Times report was not the 5,000-person turnout—although such a turnout in isolationist America was remarkable enough—but the fact that the ZOA leaders had been conspicuously absent. What made them unwilling to attend a huge outpouring of Jews, at the Manhattan Center, a few blocks from their offices? The brief answer is that American Jewish leaders considered Jabotinsky “right wing,” while they were liberals allied with Roosevelt and his party; they considered him a “militarist,” which they thought inconsistent with Jewish values; they considered him an “extremist” in matters they thought needed quiet diplomacy, given America’s neutrality; and they wanted to avoid having Jews perceived as an ethnic group pushing a pro-war agenda.
After Jabotinsky’s Manhattan Center speech, a prominent Zionist leader wrote his colleagues that Jabotinsky was “making an impression on American Jews” and that it was necessary to “destroy [his] influence … on the American public.” The Zionist organizations combined to print a 36-page pamphlet warning Jews against the “seductiveness” of Jabotinsky’s rhetoric, “particularly when supported by [his] powerful personality.” They castigated his “notorious” 1937 “Evacuation Scheme,” accusing him of “abetting the anti-Semitic desire to treat Jews as aliens and drive them out of their lands of residence” in Europe.
Benzion Netanyahu, Jabotinsky’s executive assistant (and father of the current prime minister of Israel), booked the Manhattan Center again, this time for June 19, and Jabotinsky was determined to make the event a broad show of support for a Jewish army. He sent a representative to meet in Washington with Lord Lothian, the British ambassador. Three days later he sent Col. Patterson to meet Lothian. Then Jabotinsky and Lothian themselves met for lunch in New York. The week before the rally, the British embassy informed Jabotinsky that the British consul general in New York would attend.
The American Zionist organizations learned of Lothian’s decision and mobilized to reverse it. Two days before the rally, they sent a delegation to Washington to meet Lothian, led by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. After the meeting, a curt statement was issued to the media: “American Zionist organizations are not associated with Mr. V. Jabotinsky’s activities in any way.” Lothian thereafter withdrew the British consul general from the rally.


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