Douglas J. Feith was Keynote Speaker at the AFSI memorial for Ze'ev Jabotinsky:
Renowned author and political commentator Rael Jean Isaac delivered the introductory remarks for Douglas J. Feith, the evening's keynote speaker. "Doug Feith's father was a member of the Jabotinsky youth movement, Betar, in pre-World War II Europe, so it comes as no surprise that Doug has had a lifelong interest in Jabotinsky," she said.
Mr. Feith is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, serving in this position from July 2001 until August 2005 in the Bush administration. He helped devise the U.S. government's strategy for the war on terrorism, and contributed to policy making for the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. He also served as a Middle East specialist on the White House National Security Council and then as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, where he heads the Center for National Security Strategies.
"Few people are honored 70 years after their death," said Mr. Feith, speaking of the unique and multifarious contributions of Jabotinsky to the Jewish people and the creation of the Jewish state. "Jabotinsky's remarkable accomplishments and prescient ideas are still applicable today," he continued, speaking of his perspective of the Arab/Israeli conflict. "Jabotinsky was convinced that the Arabs could not be bought off with political concessions, and in his essay entitled, 'The Iron Wall' that was penned in 1923, he wrote: 'Except for those who were born blind, they realized long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting "Palestine" from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people. And when a living people yields in matters of such a vital character it is only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall.'"
While imparting a general overview of the life of Jabotinsky, Feith said that Jabotinsky was a "rational, pragmatic, non-Socialist Jewish nationalist who rejected the totalitarian nature of fascism and communism." Mr. Feith spoke of Jabotinsky's career as a journalist, a poet, a proponent for the revivification of the Hebrew language and a tireless fighter for Jewish statehood. During the dark days that presaged the Holocaust, Jabotinsky posited himself in the forefront of a campaign for Jewish survival. It was in Warsaw in 1938 that he told his Jewish audience, "Liquidate the exile, before the exile liquidates you."
"Jabotinsky viewed the creation of a Jewish state as a matter of life and death," said Mr. Feith. "He was a man who combined erudition with action and as a result of his positions on Jewish resistance to subjugation and his campaign to form a Jewish army, he was unfairly smeared as a fascist."
As the father of Revisionist Zionism, Jabotinsky's political platform of maintaining the territorial integrity of the historical land of Israel and the establishment of a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both sides of the Jordan River was rejected by the Zionist Executive in 1935. They refused to state that “the aim of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish state." It was at this juncture that Jabotinsky resigned from the Zionist Organization and founded the New Zionist Organization (NZO) to conduct independent political activity for free immigration and the establishment of a Jewish State.
"Jabotinsky held a deep belief in the royalty of man, that we are all created in G-d's image. He extolled the views of universal equality and individual liberty," said Mr. Feith. Quoting from "Shir Betar," the Betar youth movement anthem written by Jabotinsky, Mr. Feith continued, "Even in poverty a Jew is a prince; whether slave or tramp, he was born a prince, crowned with the diadem of David."