Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jabotinsky in 1933

Some excerpts relating to Rosh Betar's attitude towards Germany from an article by Benny Morris researching the response of the Yishuv's newspapers to Hitler's rise to power in 1933:

The newspapers tended to look at the events from a narrow perspective, that is, in the context of the future of the Jewish people and the Zionist enterprise (primarily the latter). This was manifested inter alia in articles by the Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who castigated the Yishuv newspapers for “not wishing to see that German youth is streaming” to Hitler and accused them of discussing Nazism with exemplary superficiality. In his attacks on the newspapers, Jabotinsky mentioned by name the journalists Robert Weltsch and Yeshayahu Klinov (who wrote for Ha’aretz), who advised Jewish voters in Germany to vote for the Communists. Nazis and Communists were indistinguishable, he alleged, except that Nazis were “subjective” antisemites
and Communists were “objective” antisemites. As a consistent repudiator of the Diaspora, Jabotinsky considered Hitlerism an “essential and objective” phenomenon of destruction, brought to bear against a “non-territorial people with neither statehood nor sovereignty.” He asserted that:
German Jewry bears much guilt for the affliction that has befallen it. Each and every assimilationist article . . . poured fuel on to the flame of Hitlerism. . . . Jewish public circles have much to learn from Hitler, the science of learning from one’s enemies. . . . Hitler has reminded assimilated German Jewry . . . of its origins. . . . If our people’s public figures draw the appropriate conclusions . . . we will be able to say that we made the best of the worst.


...During Hitler’s first few weeks in office, the Palestinian newspapers made a perceptible if fleeting attempt to understand him and Nazism.  In Doar Yom, Jabotinsky wrote that some Jews argued that (1) Hitler would become a “statesman” and halt the attacks; (2) his regime might not survive long; (3) the president of Germany, Marshal Hindenburg — to whom the chancellor was officially subordinate — would not allow violence in any case; and (4) it was a mistake to think that antisemitism played an important role in the Nazis’ plans.

These notions were pleasant to the ear, Jabotinsky wrote, but the truth was different.  He explained that he had read both volumes of Mein Kampf (for some reason, Jabotinsky called the book Hayay, “My Life”) and stated that Hitler’s writings did not allow one to adduce that the man was crazy, even though the book was written “ineptly and disingenuously.” Hitler undoubtedly “has . . . an honest intellect [and] knows the secret of polemics.” He also has several talented advisors: “Strasser is both learned and clever; Goebbels is tremendously gifted.” There is no assurance that a man in power becomes more moderate, Jabotinsky wrote. “Presumably . . . Hitler will not be overly moderate.” Even Hindenburg cannot be trusted to check the antisemitic eruptions. Finally, the Jews’ weighty role in Nazi propaganda may be absurd, “but I fear that this is actually an integral part, the most important part, no less, the collective psychology.”


Before the [Eighteenth] Congress convened, the Zionist General Council had decided not to debate the matter publicly; the Revisionists, who boycotted the Congress, insisted on a public debate on a declaration regarding a “systematic, orderly [boycott] of German goods, [sponsored and] managed by the Zionist movement, and a worldwide propaganda campaign against Germany.”

Jabotinsky also urged the Great Powers to leave the Versailles settlement intact and not to amend it to Germany’s advantage. This was in contrast to congress delegates, such as Glücksohn, who expressed doubt about whether the settlement had ever been an “ideal of justice and probity,” and went out of their way to explain that “our war. . . [is not] against the German people and its
political aspirations.”

As regards the Jewish Agency arranged financial transfer program,

Jabotinsky continued to favor the boycott and to oppose the Ha’avara. “This [Ha’avara] agreement,” he said, “is base, disgraceful, and contemptible. Were it to come about, the Jewish masses, especially in Palestine (which is at issue here) would refuse to uphold it.”


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