Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jabotinsky Won But Lost His Place on the Wall

I was at the Hebrew University yesterday for a conclave on Hillel Cohen's book on 1929 but that will be dealt with in another post.

On the way in, I walked over to observe this new wall

It commemorates the founding fathers of the university:

The simple fact is that in the period prior to World War I, someone else prominent not included was involved, Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky:-
The horrors of the1903 pogrom against the Jews of Kishinev had the profound effect of spurring Jabotinsky's Zionist pursuits. He became a pivotal force in organizing self-defense units and fighting for Jewish minority rights in Russia. Jabotinsky was elected as a delegate to the 6th Zionist Congress, the last in which Theodor Herzl participated. During this period, Jabotinsky championed the spread of Hebrew language and culture throughout Russia, as well as the establishment of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

To be specific, Jabotinsky was a member of the 'working committee' appointed following the 12th Zionist Congress of 1913 (it was actually the 11th Zionist Congress that adopted the first operative decision to proceed with the establishment of a university in Jerusalem).  That committee of five was supplemented by Jabotinsky along with Weizmann, Ussishkin and Wolffsohn. Jabotinsky was right up there with the rest (see Shmuel Katz's "Lone Wolf").

However, in the spring of 1914 he had a falling out with Weizmann who had had a change of mind (he groveled for Rothschild money) and preferred a research institute model rather than a university with a medical school, science and, as Jabotinsky urged, a school of commerce.  His letter of April 20th caused Weizmann to distant Jabotinsky from the project.  On June 7, the Working Committee met and Jabotinsky, who summed up the argument as between "a decisive revolutionary act and a plaything" lost the vote.

However, in early 1928, the university's own board of governors as well as its Academic Council admitted that due to "Revisionist agitation', they were opening the school year.  He had written in 1925 after the groundbreaking ceremony that the university was in danger of becoming a bluff if it did not seek to aid the Jewish students of Europe rather than becoming a show-case ivory tower.  In fact, during 1927-28, he had organized a campaign among those students to write to the university officials and Zionist leaders urging the idea that Jabotinsky had been promoting a decade earlier.

In the vote, Weizmann opposed the Jabotinsky idea but it won they day.

Nevertheless, as it appears, he lost his place on the wall:


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