Who Was Jabotinsky?

The reputation of a great Zionist founding father has suffered from three stereotypes. None is true.

Observation
June 11 2014
About the author

Hillel Halkin’s books include Yehuda HaleviAcross the Sabbath RiverMelisande: What are Dreams? (a novel), Jabotinsky: A Life (2014), and, most recently, After One-Hundred-and-Twenty (Princeton). 


When speaking of Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), Menachem Begin habitually referred to him by the traditional rabbinical honorific of rabi v’mori, “my master and mentor.” And yet Begin was in some ways, as Daniel Gordis writes in his recently published biography, “the most Jewish prime minister that Israel has ever had,” while Jabotinsky, in the eyes of many of his contemporaries and not a few historians of our own time, was the “least Jewish” Zionist leader of his age. Did Begin deliberately overlook this in honoring the man whose follower he was as a young Polish Zionist in the 1930s? Did he misunderstand Jabotinsky? Or did he understand him better than others did?

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: Betar, David Ben-Gurion, Israel, Vladimir Jabotinsky, Zionism