Middle East

Zionist Leader Jabotinsky: No Reason Why Two Nations Can’t Live Together in Peace in One Country

In 1903, Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky (1880-1940) was appointed a Russian delegate to the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland where he met Theodor Herzl.

“Herzl made a great impression on me. It was only here that I truly felt I stand before a fateful, chosen prophet and great leader.”

Jabotinsky was born in Odessa, Russia. Though he was given little formal Jewish education as a boy, after he had studied Law in Italy and Switzerland and had become an accomplished writer and publicist, he devoted himself to Zionist activity following the Kishinev pogroms in Russia.

After Herzl’s death in 1904, the Zionist Movement had dwindled and was almost forgotten during the World War years from 1914 to 1918.

During WW1, Jabotinsky was a war correspondent in the Middle East, and in 1919 settled in Jerusalem.

Having experienced antisemitism in Russia as a young man and fired up after listening to Herzl, he threw himself into the revival of the Zionist Movement with determination and dedication.

“We must bring Zionism back to its former political character.”

He urged a massive aliyah to Palestine in preparation for the formation of Eretz Yisrael on both sides of the River Jordan, where the Jewish majority would claim sovereignty but with a constitution guaranteeing civil rights and cultural autonomy for the Arab minority.

A Fortified Military Front

“On the Iron Wall” was an article Jabotinsky wrote in 1932. He stressed the point that the Arabs in Palestine were a living nation and there would be little chance they would acknowledge the implementation of Zionism.

For this reason it would be necessary for the Jewish majority to build an ‘Iron Wall’. A fortified military front and stubbornly defend the Zionist position.

Jabotinsky was adamant about his firm and unshakable belief that it would be utterly impossible and immoral to eject the Arabs from Palestine.

There was no reason why two nations could not live together in peace in one country provided each of their national rights and nationalities were preserved.

However, in the case of Palestine there was a conflict of interest.

A Jewish Majority

What the Zionists wanted was one thing the Arabs did not want. That the Jews gradually become the majority and then a Jewish Government would follow automatically.

That would mean the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews.  

In the article he pointed out there could be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestinian Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future.

It would be utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestinian Arabs for converting Palestine from a British Mandate into a country with a Jewish majority.

He further added that Jewish peacemongers should understand the Arabs were just as good psychologists as they were. Their minds had been sharpened for centuries.

Jabotinsky claimed that for the Palestinian Arabs to voluntarily consent to the realization of Zionism in return for a moral and material conversion to a Jewish State was a childish notion.

“They will persist in doing, as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope, that they will be able to prevent the transformation of Palestine into the Land of Israel.”

The Jabotinsky Warning

Here are excerpts from a speech Jabotinsky gave to a Jewish community in Warsaw, Poland on Tisha B’Av 1938.

“For three years I keep addressing you, the Jews of Poland, the Crown of World Jewry. I keep warning you time and again that the catastrophe is approaching.

Those of you who will run away from this catastrophe will have the privilege to live and see this festive moment of great Jewish joy – the rebirth and revival of a Jewish State.

It is my strongest belief.”

As we can deduct from the warning of Jabotinsky to the Polish Jews, the future of Israel depends largely on population.

As long as the Jewish population outnumbers the Arabs in Israel from both sides of the Jordan to the sea, the State of Israel remains in safe hands.

Jabotinsky foresaw what was happening in Europe and by the Jews migrating to Palestine it would be of immeasurable value to the Jewish population growth.

Sadly, few took his advice and subsequently millions perished.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a visionary. An ardent Zionist, but a man who believed in human equality. He would have welcomed to see the Arabs live, either together with, or alongside the Jews in peace and prosperity.

Lloyd Masel made aliyah from Perth, Australia in 1999. He had been active in Zionist Federation programs in Australia, and was the Conductor and soloist of the Perth Hebrew Congregation male choir for 30 years.

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