Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jabotinsky Tribute

Composed by David Krakow and published in Jewish Week on Friday August 19th, 2016:


The Jabotinsky Fraternal Order was established in New York, in 1940, in order to fulfill Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s wish that he be buried where he died and his remains transferred to the reestablished Jewish state, upon the request of its government.

Embracing virtually all of the varied components of the Jabotinsky movement in the United States, the Jabotinsky Fraternal Order commemorated every Yahrzeit of his passing and engaged in a variety of activities to promote his legacy.

After seventy-six years, the surviving membership has chosen to mark this Yahrzeit by highlighting the foundation of Jabotinsky’s Zionist career.

In 1897, as a seventeen-year-old student at the University of Berne, Jabotinsky attended a meeting of Russian Jewish students who were addressed by Nachman Syrkin, one of the originators of socialist Zionism. In a question and answer period following the lecture, Jabotinsky expressed reservations about socialism, but declared himself a Zionist because “the Jews of Russia are facing a Saint Bartholomew’s night”.

Ten years later, while running as a Zionist candidate for the second Russian Duma from the province of Volhynia, Jabotinsky was challenged by the anti-Zionist “Jewish Folk group”, which asserted that it was impermissible for a Zionist who advocated emigration to campaign for the Russian Parliament.

In his response, Jabotinsky clearly revealed what had become the bedrock of his Zionist career: “We Zionists do not appeal to anybody to leave Russia. One has to be completely ignorant of the essence of modern Zionism not to realize that, first of all, we don’t believe in any ‘appeals’. We reckon only with the force of events, which is an elemental force. It is this force of events which started the inevitable process of elimination, and which is bound to consummate it.”

It was in the 1930’s that Jabotinsky felt compelled to appeal to Jews to leave Europe. Thus, on Tisha B’Av, 1938 in Warsaw, he said, “…it is already three years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry, who are the crown of world Jewry. I continue to warn you incessantly that a catastrophe is coming closer. I became grey and old in these years, my heart bleeds, that you, dear brothers and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all-consuming lava. I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed and sunk in your daily worries. Today, however, I demand from you trust. You were convinced already that my prognoses have already proven to be right. If you think differently then drive me out of your midst. However, if you do believe me, then listen to me in this 12th hour: In the name of God! Let anyone of you save himself as long as there is still time. And time there is very little.

“…and what else I would like to say to you in this day of Tisha B’Av: whoever of you who will escape from the catastrophe, he or she will live to see the exalted moment of a great Jewish wedding: the rebirth and the rise of a Jewish state. I don’t know if I will be privileged to see it; my son will! I believe in this as I am sure that tomorrow morning the sun will rise.”

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