Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jabotinsky Misinterpreted

One never knows when and where Ze'ev Jabotinsky is quoted or by who.

Like here, in a book review by Alex Renton of "Palestine Inside Out: an Everyday Occupation" authored by Saree Makdisi.

The hinge to this guidebook to the Palestinian morass is a quotation from the Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky: "Every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement." His essay of 1923, of course, advocates Jews settling in Palestine to make sure that that hope is destroyed among the people they will displace. It was titled "The Iron Wall".

Saree Makdisi is not the first writer to point out that what was a metaphor used by a racist right-winger, reviled at the time by the liberal Zionist mainstream, is now an actuality. A high wall in concrete and steel runs along the occupied West Bank and around Gaza. And Jabotinsky's creeds now run through the heart of 21st-century Israeli government policy...

I don't want to compose an essay but the quotation is slightly out of context.

For example, here is how Jabotinsky opens his article, "The Iron Wall (part I)":-

It is an excellent rule to begin an article with the most important point, but this time, I find it necessary to begin with an introduction , and, moreover , with a personal introduction.

I am reputed to be an enemy of the Arabs, who wants to have them ejected from Palestine, and so forth. It is not true.

Emotionally, my attitude to the Arabs is the same as to all other nations – polite indifference. Politically, my attitude is determined by two principles. First of all, I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine. There will always be two nations in Palestine – which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority. And secondly, I belong to the group that once drew up the Helsingfors Programme , the programme of national rights for all nationalities living in the same State. In drawing up that programme, we had in mind not only the Jews, but all nations everywhere, and its basis is equality of rights.

I am prepared to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone. This seems to me a fairly peaceful credo.

But it is quite another question whether it is always possible to realise a peaceful aim by peaceful means. For the answer to this question does not depend on our attitude to the Arabs, but entirely on the attitude of the Arabs to us and to Zionism.

Now, after this introduction, we may proceed to the subject.

Not convinced?

Here's another quotation:-

“there are no superior nor inferior ones, for every race has its own qualities, features and its own combination of characteristics .. In my eyes, all people are equal. Of course, I love my people above all but it isn't 'superior' to my mind.” [V. Jabotinsky, "An Exchange of Complaints" 1911 in Nation and Society (Hebrew), p. 147, 158.]

So, it would seem that Jabotinsky was not a declared racist but was trying to make sure that Jewish rights were not trampled on nor done away with by...racist Arabs.

For it was the Arabs that claimed that Jews had no rights whatsoever in any area of their national homeland. It was racist Arabs who sought to promote a policy of ethnic cleansing, first killing and expelling Jews from Tel Hai in March 1920, then attempting the same in Jerusalem's Old City in April 1920, in Jaffa and Petah Tikva in May 1921, in Hebron, Safed, Tiberias, Be'er Tuviah, Hulda and other locations in 1929 and on and on. In 1948, they wiped out the Jewish communities of Kfar Etzion, Revadim, Masu'ot Yitzhak, Ein Tzurim, Atarot, Beit Ha'arava, Neveh Ya'akov and others, including the entire Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City (what they attempted 28 years earlier).

And just a note. That

high wall in concrete and steel runs along the occupied West Bank and around Gaza

In very few places is it high. In most places it is only a chain-linked fence. Steel? And the WB & G are not "occupied". Those territories are more properly "disputed". And Israel has probably a better legal right to administer them than any other country.

And besides, if those racist Arabs keep firing Qassams, etc., of what good is a wall, even an iron one?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Jabotinsky is one of my heroes. Thank you for this very interesting post.

YMedad said...

My pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is a racist in their own mind. Everyone who is a racist only believes in the innate racism of other groups out to 'destroy' their people. Whether it is Hitler, Jabotinsky, Verwoerd, whoever...
Why call yourself prejudiced and irrational when all your own malicious thoughts can be explained by the prejudice and irrationality of others?

YMedad said...

A) So, you are racist, too? If you believe that Jabo was a racist when he says he isn't, when he expresses views and makes concrete suggestions that belie racism, you still refer to him as a racist because you are a racist if that's they way you think of Jews.

B) How can you compare Hitler & Jabotinsky? What parameters are similar?