How One of Russia’s Leading Literary Figures Became One of Zionism’s Greatest Leaders

Born in the cosmopolitan city of Odessa, then in the Russian empire, in 1880, Vladimir Jabotinsky as a young adult had a promising career as an essayist, playwright, and literary critic—without any particular interest in Jewish affairs. That slowly changed as Jabotinsky was drawn to Zionism, and eventually founded and led the Revisionist movement, the ancestor of today’s Likud. As his biographer Hillel Halkin puts it, he was “a politician who did not want to be a politician.” Halkin discusses Jabotinsky’s life, his talents as an orator and translator, his critique of the Zionist left, and his fateful meetings in 1934 with David Ben-Gurion, who would soon thereafter become his greatest rival. (Interview by David Makovsky. Audio, 49 minutes.)

Read more at Decision Points

More about: David Ben-Gurion, History of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem