Monday, January 23, 2017

1935 Jabotinsky Arrives Again In America

From the JTA January 1935 report (and a second one):

Revisionism is Inevitable, Says Jabotinsky, Here for Wide Tour

January 27, 1935

As Vladimir Jabotinsky, world Revisionist leader, stepped off the gangplank of the S.S. Manhattan Friday, hero-worshipping young Brith Trumpeldorites rushed up to him and kissed his hand.

“Tel Hai!” The Brith Trumpeldor greeting, a memorial to the death of Joseph Trumpeldor during his defense of the Galilee colony, rang through the air — the first words Jabotinsky heard after he had stepped onto American soil.

More than 100 members of Brith Trumpeldor and of YZRO, the Youth Zionist Revisionist Organization, were at the pier to shout their welcome. Formed in military array, bearing aloft the Mogen Dovid banner and the American flag, they cheered and sang while Jabotinsky waited for customs officials to pass on his luggage.


Looking rather weary and piqued after the rigors of a rough crossing, the Revisionist chieftain was not too tired to mingle with the eager crowd which had stood for hours in the freezing temperature, impatient for a glimpse of this man whose last visit to the United States, in 1926, is still discussed as though it had happened yesterday, so deep an impression did he make.

Jabotinsky made it clear that he is in this country “merely to present a point of view” and to help launch the Tel Hai fund campaign in the United States.

On the subject of Revisionism, which he has made his life’s work, Jabotinsky is quiet and forceful, with the assured air of a man who sees a sharply defined vision, totally lacking in confusion or compromise, which he knows must be realized.

That vision is a Jewish nation in Palestine.

“How can the Jews achieve a true Homeland in the Holy Land?” the reporter asked him.

“By demanding it,” Jabotinsky said quietly.


Questioned regarding “secession” of the Revisionists from the Zionist Organization, he said:

“There is no longer any question of secession. The Revisionist Union is a separate organization now. It has not that much”—he snapped his fingers—”interest in the Zionist Congress. Our movement is not a part of any other organization.

“We are glad to negotiate to create understanding, however. As for so-called peace pacts, there IS no peace pact. There is merely a suspension of hostilities in their worst form. So far there is only an armistice.”

The subject of “secession” brought up the matter of Jabotinsky’s recent withdrawal from the Revisionist conference in Krakow, Poland, when Dr. Wolfgang von Weisel of Vienna demanded a clean break with the Zionist Organization.


“I am glad you brought up that point,” Jabotinsky said. “Please make it clear for me that my leaving the room while Dr. von Weisel, my very good friend, was speaking was purely a coincidence.

“I was listening to him with great interest at the time. Just then a messenger came in to tell me that an urgent call had come through from Lwow. I had to leave to attend to it. That was all there was to the incident.”

Jabotinsky was surprised when one of his American lieutenants told him word had been received that he was no longer to be barred from Palestine, which he has not visited since December, 1929, when his permanent visa was revoked. He was unable to say whether he would return there for a visit. That, he said, depended on the business requirements of the Revisionist Organization.

Although he is reputedly a fiery and inspiring orator in his public appearances, this little, almost haggard man is completely without bluster in his personal contacts. His voice has a soft, caressing quality, which carries with it conviction. He peers at you from behind glasses with his shrewd but kindly eyes, asking questions almost as frequently as he answers them.

“There is one force in the world that really matters,” he said, “and that is the force of moral pressure. We Jews are the most powerful nation in the world because we have that force and know how to use it.”


Here he explained his attitude toward Great Britain as the mandatory power over Palestine.

“Revisionism doesn’t take the ‘no’ of a British official seriously,” he said. “Government opinions change under pressure. But Revisionism does take Zionism terribly seriously. We don’t want Zionism to be a plaything.”

He enlarges on this point of view in a prepared statement given to all ship news reporters Friday.

“Our method of ‘insisting’ (that Palestine be a Jewish State) has recently taken the form of a worldwide petition movement,” he says there. “The petition is signed not just by ‘ideological’ Zionists but by those who, apart from any ‘ideology,’ actually and personally want and must migrate to Palestine.


“It is addressed both to the mandatory government and Parliament and to the governments of those countries where Jewish distress has become a grave problem for the state itself. Six hundred thousand signatures have already been collected, and it will be several millions before we are through.”

This, then, is what Jabotinsky means by causing government opinions to change “under pressure.”

“Naturally,” he said in his perfect English—he is an accomplished linguist—”I very heartily

disapprove of the present regime in Palestine.

“On the one hand I have admiration, on the other, worse than criticism for it.


“I admire it because it is an unparalleled example of colonization work. I challenge every nation in the world not only to beat, but to equal, our colonization record.

“On the other hand it is a question whether what we have obtained in Palestine amounts to much in view of what we need.”

“And what DO we need?” the reporter prompted him.

“My God!” he exclaimed. “We need a Jewish State!” This was the only occasion during the interview on which he raised his voice above conversational level.

What Jabotinsky means by “a Jewish State” is further iluminated in his prepared statement.


“From England,” he writes there, “we demand a thorough revision of the ideas and methods she has been applying to Palestine. First to be revised is the true meaning of her favorite catchword that ‘immigration should keep within the country’s economic absorptive capacity.’

“Of course it should. Why argue such a bromide of a truism? But the absorptive capacity of a country cannot be measured just by its acres: It depends above all on the kind of immigrants. It is the human factor, not soil and moisture, which determines whether a country is to become a beehive or to stay a desert.


“For immigrants such as the Jews, with our stubborn urge, our technical and financial resources, and our colonizing skill so brilliantly proved, Palestine holds possibilities of absorption practically unlimited; and the English know it themselves….

“Of course we will never agree that any Jewish settler may be treated as an ‘illegal’ immigrant, no matter whether he has or hasn’t a visa for entering his National Home.

“Of course we will not countenance the present flooding of Palestine by Arabs from the neighboring territories.


“Of course we resent being forced to pay a million dollars baksheesh for the Huleh marshes to a former Syrian concessionaire who has held that concession for twenty years without carrying out any drainage work and a further baksheesh of a couple of million dollars on drainage at our expense of the portion of the area reserved exclusively for Arabs—while the Treasury boasts a surplus of some fifteen millions in cash, all derived from Jewish contributions to revenue.”

Jabotinsky feels a casual friendliness towards the Arabs, which he expressed Friday as follows:

“I wouldn’t advise anyone to go all the way to Palestine merely to better conditions for the Arabs there, but if the Arabs happen to gain by Jewish enterprise, it’s perfectly all right with me, provided it doesn’t interfere in any way with the establishment of a Jewish nation there.”


“What chance has Revisionism to become the ruling philosophy of Jewry?” the reporter asked him.

“I consider it inevitable,” Jabotinsky replied in that soft yet steel-strong manner of his, “that Revisionism must become the dominating force in Zionism.”

He amplified this with a reference to the French philosopher Tocqueville, who lived early in the nineteenth century.

“Tocqueville,” Jabotinsky said, “spoke of providential movements which are characterized by the fact that they always gain, no matter whether by victory or by defeat.

“Revisionism is such a providential movement.”

For the Zionist Organization, he declared, he feels “absolute indifference.”

“If I see them doing a good piece of work,” he said, “I will help them. If I see them doing a silly piece of work, I will fight them.”


Jacob De Haas was chairman of the reception committee which boarded the S.S. Manhattan to welcome Jabotinsky. Also on the committee were Elias Ginsburg, Leib Altman, Israel Posnansky and Samuel Rosen, all officials of the Revisionist Organization of the United States.

Jabotinsky was to deliver the first of a series of lectures Saturday night at Mecca Temple under the auspices of the League for Jewish National Labor in Palestine. Later he will tour New England and Canada and will fill engagements in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri and Indiana. He is here for an indefinitely.

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