Saturday, October 30, 2021

Responding to the Jabotinsky Fascist Claim

I see that in the new issue, my letter does not appear (not that I expected it).

An extract from a review of Tom Segev's biography of David Ben-Gurion in the New York Review of Books:

Segev consistently opts for the less charitable interpretation...A more significant example is the conflict with the Revisionists, a militant, nationalist faction of the Zionist movement, which later evolved into the Likud party. Ben-Gurion described them as an enemy and the fight against them as a war. He called the Revisionist party “a Jewish Nazi party” and its leader, the Odessa-born writer Vladimir Jabotinsky, “Vladimir Hitler.” For Segev, this was all “verbal acrobatics.” In November 1944, following a series of terrorist attacks by the Revisionist underground organizations against British targets, Ben-Gurion ordered Haganah forces to crack down on them. Surrendering Jewish fighters to the resented Mandate authorities was no more popular among his ranks than restraint in the face of Arab violence had been a decade earlier. But he insisted: “The two are incompatible—either the way of the terrorists or the way of Zionism.”

According to Segev, this too was merely a political power play, “a struggle over who would rule the Jewish state that would be born after the war.” The differences between them—differences that arguably shape the political landscape in Israel to this day—are in his account negligible:

Jabotinsky was not a fascist any more than Ben-Gurion was a Marxist. Ben-Gurion was no less nationalist or militarist than Jabotinsky. The right-left divide in the Zionist movement was largely a matter of style and modes of operation, not of fundamental values. In the large picture, it was a fight over power more than it was over ideas.

It is true that Labor Zionists and Revisionists had the same goal: an independent state with a Jewish majority in historic Palestine. (Though arguably they had very different ideas about the character this state should have; the sympathy expressed by prominent Revisionists for fascism—saluting their leader as “Duce” and their unscrupulous targeting of civilians—might plausibly be taken to indicate differences in “fundamental values.”) Indeed, both parties were opposed to binationalism—the creation of a single state for both Jews and Arabs in Palestine—which was advocated in one form by the Communists and in another by a group of utopian intellectuals known as Brit Shalom. But the ideological conflicts in the Zionist movement cannot be reduced to the question of binationalism (a fanciful idea even by Segev’s account).

At a high enough altitude all differences disappear. For Segev, it seems, ideas belong to the sublime realm of fundamental values or goals. Everything else is just power, by which he means the struggle for personal gain and position. But between values and egos lies the domain of what is to be done—the domain of politics. That is where Ben-Gurion excelled.

I sent this letter to the editor:

In Assaf Sharon's review of Tom Segev's biography of David Ben-Gurion (‘This Obstinate Little Man’, Nov. 4), he refers to the clash between Ben-Gurion and Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky. Sharon notes Segev's opinion that "Jabotinsky was not a fascist any more than Ben-Gurion was a Marxist" yet adds his own view that Jabotinsky's followers were "saluting their leader as 'Duce'" and engaged in "unscrupulous targeting of civilians".

Only one member of Jabotinsky's Revisionist Party, Dr. Abba Ahimeir, suggested such behavior but Jabotinsky rejected the idea. Only amongst members in the Italian branch of his movement was he called 'Duce' due to the political atmosphere in that country. As Avishai Margalit explained in these pages (NYRB, "The Spell of Jabotinsky", Nov. 6, 2014), Jabotinsky repudiated fascism. He refused to meet Mussolini (although Chaim Weizmann did so, four times).

It need also be clarified that the "civilians" targeted were Arabs during the 1937-1939 years of the Arab Revolt when, after Arab terror gangs attacked Jewish civilians in their homes, in marketplaces and on public transportation, the Revisionist militia, the Irgun, retaliated in kind.


Friday, October 29, 2021

Letter to the Editor Re: Temple Mount

Jerusalem Post Weekend Magazine, Otober 29, 2021

Jeremy Sharon’s excellent overview of the Temple Mount situation at present should have recalled four background essentials for a fuller understanding of the issue.

Firstly, the sanctified Jewish “Temple Mount” area is smaller than the Muslim al-Haram al-Sharif, and Jews do not seek to enter Muslim buildings. There is enough room for Muslims, Jews and Christians to pray without “invading” another’s territory.

The second is that Jewish prayer is recognized as a basic right by decisions of the High Court of Justice based on the 1967 Law for the Preservation of Holy Places. Prayer is not illegal.

Third, the status quo of 1967 is not upheld by the Muslim Wakf, which has built three new mosques within the compound, destroyed historical and archaeological artifacts and altered administrative customs.

Fourth, Jordan, which is responsible for the (Jerusalem) Wakf Islamic religious trust and funds it, refuses to fulfill its obligations as per the 1994 Peace Treaty with Israel. Article 9 reads: “Each Party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance... The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.” Even the positioning of surveillance cameras that could help prevent violence at the Temple Mount was sabotaged by Jordan.




Thursday, October 07, 2021

Another Set of Mandate of Palestine Maps

Visiting the offices of the Israel Resource Center, I found another set of Mandate of Palestine maps in this 1948 book:

which even the NYTimes reviewed.

There is a set of maps illustrating the minimizing of the territory of the promised Jewish National Home, ratified by the League of Nations:

And what is unique is that it inludes the summer of 1948 Bernadotte Plan proposal and see here also.

Here is that map in detail:

and here are two others:

Provides more visual perspective on what was being drawn as the borders for the future Jewish and Arab states.