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The Southern Jewish weekly. [volume] (Jacksonville, Fla.) 1939-1992, August 16, 1940, Image 2

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Page Two
Jabotinsky- •
Citizen of the World
By BORIS SMOLAR
(Chief European Correspondent)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is an interesting personal
evaluation of Vladimar Jabotinsky, by Boris Smolar, of
the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, who long knew the fa
mous Revisionist leader.
Revisionists, as well as opponents of Revisionism and
those completely uninterested in Zionism, must admit one
thing: Jabotinsky was one of the few figures produced by
political Zionism with a worldly outlook, one of the few lead
ers of Zionism who, thanks to their worldly outlook, made an
impression upon non-Jews as well as Jews.
The Zionist movement has not
produced many leaders who were
cosmopolitans in the real sense of
the word. Dr. Theodor Herzl once
said. Most Zionist leaders since Dr.
Herzl and Max Nordau were peo
ple with ghetto mentalities, peo
ple thoroughly Jewish, people for
whom the outside non-Jewish
world was totally strange and
alien, people who, psychologically,
had never left the towns and vil
lages whence they had come.
Jabotinsky was among the ex
ceptions. He was among those Zi
onist leaders who were essential
ly cosmopolitan, one of those rare
persons in the Zionist world who
could appear before non-Jewish
statesmen and be as one of them,
one of them in education, one of
them in his knowledge of lan
guages, one of them in worldly
manners, one of them in all re
spects.
In private conversation once
with a Palestine High Commis
sioner in Jerusalem, I was given
his opinion of a certain active
member of the Zionist Executive:
“The trouble with him is that he
can’t wear dinner clothes,” the
High Commissioner said about
him. “He is certainly a good Zi
onist, but he has no worldliness,
he has no poise. . .”
This could not be said about Ja
botinsky— even in those circles
where his ideas were not well re
ceived, where he was bitterly crit
icized for his extremism, even in
such places he was respected for
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his knowledge, for his cultured
bearing, for his cosmopolitanism...
Personally, I believe it was a
great mistake on the part of the
Zionist movement to have kept a
man of the strength of Jabotinsky
"outside the camp” during the last
few years, when political Zionism
stood in such dire need of worldly
leaders, leaders who could appear
in London, in Geneva and else
where, leaders who could speak
with non-Jewish diplomats as
their equal. Jabotinsky, as a mem
ber of a Zionist coalition cabinet,
could have been extremely help
ful, particularly since Jabotinsky’s
most extreme demand, that for a
Jewish State on both sides of the
Jordan, had become only a theo
retical situation in Europe.
An excellent speaker, a charm
ing person, acquainted with many
languages, a first-class publicist,
Jabotinsky combined all the ele
ments which lead a political per
sonality to success.
Jabotinsky paid the penalty be
cause he stayed until the very end
with the Jews and lived for them.
Whoever remembers Jabotinsky
from the time his columns ap
peared in the Russian press in
Odessa, whoever read those col
umns with the pleasure one gets
from sipping a rare wine, could
not understand what drew Jabet
insky to Jewishness, to Zionism, to
everything that comes from the
ghetto. Anyone who heard Jabot
insky speak even once, could not
understand why this splendid law
yer. who could have been one of
the best lawyers of Russia, was
willing to forego his own career
to devote himself to Zionism,
which in the years before the Bal
four Declaration was no more than
a dreamy utopia.
Jabotinsky came to Zionism
from an assimilated Russian en
vironment, just as Dr. Herzl came
to Zionism from an assimilated
Austrian environment. Both of
them had the same virtues. Both
of them had a worldly education
and a worldly approach to the
question of Eretz Israel. Jabotin
sky was a much better journalist
than Dr. Herzl, surely a much fin
er speaker and he knew languages
much better.
Dr. Herzl, however, had the luck
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The late Vladimar Jabotinsky, president of the New Zionist Or
ganization, shown inspecting the B’rith Trumpeldor Organization of
New York.
to die before political Zionism
had become a reality. To know
when to die is an important part
of a political personality. Lenin
knew when to die, so he remained
a great person in Soviet history.
Trotsky didn’t hurry, so he was
thrown out of the Soviet Union
and now suffers exile.
Jabotinsky was still a young
man when political Zionism be
came a reality. When the Balfour
Declaration was published, Jabot
insky was in the midst of leading
the Jewish Legion. He saw, like
Moses, the land in which the Jew
ish dream would finally become
reality, and so he couldn’t be con
cerned about his popularity and
his future in the non-Jewish world.
And Jabotinsky drifted further
and further away from the oppor
tunities the non-Jewish world of
fered him, and allowed himself to
be absorbed in his ambition to see
a Jewish people in the Jewish
land. With the mentality of one
who is basically cosmopolitan he
approached the question of win
ning Palestine as a Jewish coun
try and would accept no compro
mise. One who has never suffered
from a ghetto complex cannot
comprehend ghetto compromises.
He wants his due, particularly
when he had fought for it with
his life and blood, particularly
when it has been promised him in
black-on-white.
Jabotinsky’s hatred of compro
mise was a result of his broad out
look and his worldly view of
things. It was the result of a psy
chology which asks no favors but
insists on his due, on fulfillment
of a promise.
It is not always possible, how
ever, to pay a debt. In the ques
tion of Palestine, the British Gov
ernment fell far behind in its pay
ments. And it was here that Jab
otinsky became uncompromising,
not only in his demands on the
British Government but on the
entire Zionist administration.
It may have been a strategic
error for Jabotinsky to have left
the Zionist Organization inside
it he may have been able to ac
complish more—but it was also a
serious mistake on the part of the
Zionist Executive to place Jabot
insky completely outside the pale
of the official Zionist movement.
There are not many Jabotinskys
among the Jews, and there are
still fewer in Zionism. The Zionist
movement has a crying need for
worldly persons and persons whom
the non-Jewish world can respect
as leaders of Jewry. . .
Jabotinsky does not leave be
hind him any such personality as
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he Weis. He made a significant
contribution to the Zionist move
ment, before he left the Zionist
Organization and also later, w'hen
he organized his own Zionist or
ganization. In the history of the
Zionist movement, his name will
loom large, despite the deep dif
ference of opinion that existed be
tween him and the present Zionist
leadership.
Jabotinsky came to the Zionist
movement when it was still in its
swaddling clothes, he lived with
it until it had passed its “Sturm
und Drang” period, and he died in
the tent of a Zionist summer camp
among extremist Zionist youths
who looked upon him as their lead
er. His whole life was spent in
denying himself in the interests of
an ideal which he considered best
for Zionism. His name will re
main linked not only with the his
tory of Zionism, but also with the
sorrowful history of the Jews,
from old Tzarist Russia to the
present Hitler epoch.
Honor his memory . . .
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