Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky (1880-1940) was born on October 18, 1880, in the city of Odessa, Russia. At the age of 18, he left for Italy and Switzerland to study law, and served as a correspondent for several well - known Russian newspapers. His reports and articles were widely read and soon became recognized as one of the brilliant exponents of Russian journalism. All his reports and articles were signed with his literary pseudonym “Altalena.”
The pogrom against the Jews of Kishinev in 1903 spurred Jabotinsky to undertake Zionist activity. He organized selfdefense units and fought for Jewish minority rights in Russia. Jabotinsky was elected as a delegate to the 6th Zionist Congress, the last in which Theodore Herzl participated. During this period, Jabotinsky was active in spreading the Hebrew language and culture throughout Russia, and the establishment of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he left for the front as a newspaper correspondent. While in Alexandria, he met Joseph Trumpeldor and, from then onward, worked for the establishment of the Jewish Legion. Jabotinsky was not interested in the creation of an auxiliary unit, and, upon reaching London, took energetic steps until the final confirmation was received in August 1917 of the creation of the first Jewish Legion unit. Jabotinsky also served as a Lieutenant and participated in the assault of the Jordan River crossings and the conquest of Esalt in the campaign to free Eretz Israel (Palestine) from Turkish rule. Jabotinsky was one of the initiators of the Haganah. During Passover in 1920, Jabotinsky stood at the head of the Haganah in Jerusalem against Arab riots and was condemned by the British Mandatory Government to 15 years hard labor. Following the public outcry against the verdict, he received amnesty and was released from Acre prison.
From 1921 onwards, Jabotinsky was a member of the Zionist Executive and one of the founders of “Keren Hayesod.” After a series of policy disagreement on the direction of the Zionist Movement, he seceded and, in 1925, established the Union of Zionists - Revisionists (Hatzohar) which called for the immediate establishment of a Jewish State.
In 1923, the youth movement Betar (Brith Joseph Trumpeldor) was created. The new youth movement aimed at educating its members with a military and nationalistic spirit and Jabotinsky stood at its head. During the years 19281929, he resided in Palestine and edited the Hebrew daily Doar Hayom while, at the same time, undertaking increased political activity. In 1929, he left the country on a lecture tour after which the British administration denied him reentry into the country. From then onwards he lived in the Diaspora until his death.
In 1935, after the Zionist Executive rejected his political program and refused to clearly define that “the aim of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish state,” Jabotinsky decided to resign from the Zionist Movement. He founded the New Zionist Organization (N.Z.O) to conduct independent political activity for free immigration and the establishment of a Jewish State.
In the 1930s, Jabotinsky visited Poland and warned the Jews there of the impending disaster that would engulf them. His warnings went largely unheeded and were vehemently attacked by the anti-Zionist Bund. On Tisha B'av 1938, the traditional date of the fall of the first and second temples, Jabotinsky wrote in Warsaw:
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 brother 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 twelfth hour: In the name of G-d! Let anyone of you save himself, as long as there is still time, and time there is very little.
What else I would like to say to you on this day of Tisha B’Av is whoever of you will escape from the catastrophe, he or she will live to see the exalted moment of a great Jewish wedding - the rebirth and rise of a Jewish state. I don’t know if I will be privileged to see it, but my son will! I believe in this, as I am sure that tomorrow morning the sun will rise.
Eliminate the Diaspora or the Diaspora will surely eliminate you.
The warning went unheeded. The The Jewish Bund in Poland ridiculed Jabotinsky as a "paper general."
In 1937, the Irgun Tzvai Leumi (I.Z.L) became the military arm of the Jabotinsky movement and he became its commander. The three bodies headed by Jabotinsky, The New Zionist Organization (N.Z.O), the Betar youth movement and the Irgun Tzvai Leumi (I.Z.L) were three extensions of the same movement. The New Zionist Organization was the political arm that maintained contacts with governments and other political factors, Betar educated the youth of the Diaspora for the liberation and building of Eretz Israel and the Irgun Tzvai Leumi (I.Z.L) was the military arm that fought against the enemies of the Zionist enterprise. These bodies cooperated in the organization of Af Al Pi illegal immigration. Within this framework, more than 40 ships sailed from European ports bringing to Eretz Israel tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.
Throughout this period of intense political activity, Jabotinsky continued to write poetry, novels, short stories and articles on politics, social and economic problems. From among his literary creations, The Jewish Legion, Prelude to Delilah (Samson) and The Five, served as an inspiration for Jews of the Diaspora.
Jabotinsky was fluent in many languages and translated into Hebrew some of the best-known classics of world literature.
During 19391940, Jabotinsky was active in Britain and the United States in the hope of establishing a Jewish army to fight side by side with the Allies against Nazi Germany.
On August 4, 1940, while visiting the Betar camp in New York, he suffered a massive heart attack. In his will he requested that his remains be interred in Eretz Israel if so requested at the express order of the Hebrew Government of the Jewish State that shall arise. His will was fulfilled by Levi Eshkol, Israel's third Prime Minister. In 1964, Jabotinsky's remains and those of his wife Jeanne were reinterred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Source: The Jabotinsky Institute
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