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Posts Tagged ‘Jabotinsky’

Update: Details on Funeral of Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Prime Minister

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Professor Benzion Netanyahu will be laid to rest at 5pm on Monday at the Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.

The former aide to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Operation Entebbe hero Yoni Netanyahu, was 102.  For more about Professor Benzion, click here.

 

Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Prime Minister Benjamin, Dies at 102

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Entebbe rescue hero Yoni Netanyahu, died Monday at his Jerusalem home at the age of 102. The elder Netanyahu was visited by his son Benjamin for the last time on Sunday at the family home on 4 Haportzim Street.  He will be laid to rest on Monday at 5pm at Jerusalem’s Har Menuchot Cemetery.

Benzion Netanyahu served as secretary to Revisionist Zionist proponent and Beitar leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, served as editor for the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, and served as professor emeritus at Cornell University.

Born in Warsaw on March 25, 1910 as Benzion Milikovsky, he and his family immigrated to Israel in 1920.  In 1944, he married Tzila Segal, with whom he had three sons: Yonatan, born 1946, a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal who was killed in the 1976 Operation Entebbe rescue of 102 Israeli and other hostages, Benjamin, born 1949, and Ido, born 1952, a radiologist, author, and playwright.

Working as the secretary of Zionist icon Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Netanyahu maintained a belief in Jewish sovereignty over the Greater Land of Israel, including parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.  He was one of the signers of a petition against the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947.

Benzion’s strong Zionist values were a major part of Benjamin’s upbringing.  The prime minister’s father imparted on him the importance of protecting Jewish heritage sites such as Hebron.  He advocated a tough stance in the region, and predicted that threats to world peace would emerge from parts of the Muslim world harboring violence, terror, nuclear power, and oil.

According to a report in Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that his father predicted a Muslim attack on the Twin Towers in New York, as well as the rise of tyrannical Islamic regimes which would make efforts to attain nuclear weapons.

In his last interview with Channel 2 news – at the age of 99, Benzion stated that his powerful son does not support a Palestinian state.  “He supports the kind of (diplomatic) conditions they (the Palestinians) would never in the world accept,” Benzion said.  “That’s what I heard from him.  Not from me – he put forth the conditions.  These conditions – they will never be accepted, not even one of them.”

“No, No, Herzl and Landau did not toil in order to build a Palestinian state,” Benzion told the reporter.  “This land is a land of the Jews, not a land of the Arabs.  There is no room here for Arabs, there will not be, and they will never negotiate to terms (which would create a Palestinian state).”

Moreover, Benzion believed that Arab citizens are a threat to the fabric of Israel, and that they would conflict with the Jews by nature.  “The tendency to conflict is in the essence of the Arab.  He is an enemy by essence… His existence is one of perpetual war,” Benzion is quoted by the Associated Press as telling Maariv in 2009. “The Arab citizens’ goal is to destroy us. They don’t deny that they want to destroy us.”

Benzion was a strong opponent of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Jewish communities in Gaza known as Gush Katif.  The forced expulsion of Jewish residents who wanted to remain in the area was a “crime against humanity”, according to Benzion.

As an academic, Netanyahu specialized in Medieval Spanish Jewry.  In his controversial book on the subject, he rejected the theory that the Spanish Inquisition was a result of Jewish isolationism or separatism, saying Spanish Jews were interested in assimilating into Christian society and Spanish culture, and were forced into being Marranos when their efforts to shed their Jewishness did not afford them full acceptance.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Father, Benzion, Dies at 102

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benzion, died at the age of 102 on Monday morning in Jerusalem.  Benzion was an active supporter of Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and worked closely with him.

Former professor emeritus at Cornell University and expert in Medieval Spanish Jewry, Benzion’s funeral details will be announced.  For the full story, click here.

Herbert Zweibon, Zion’s Champion

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

              Herbert Zweibon, founder and chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI, died on Jan. 19 at the age of 84. It was Tu B’Shevat, holiday of the trees, which only seems fitting because Herb was someone who spread his branches wide, sheltering not only his beloved family but an array of people and causes, planting seeds of wisdom and truth.

Psalm 92 tells us, “A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar he will grow tall . They will still be fruitful in old age, vigorous and fresh they will be “
How appropriate this is as a description of Herb Zweibon. He was not a tall man, but he was a giant among men who in his last year of life achieved what he felt was one of his greatest accomplishments – furthering the recognition of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Shmuel Katz as great Zionist heroes.
Herb was often accused of being a “right-wing extremist” because of his views on the preservation of the Jabotinsky ideal of a whole Israel. The national and international organization Herb had begun building in 1970 was seen by the mainstream media, and the liberal Jews who followed their guidelines, as being as far right as possible on the political spectrum.
What we’ve seen over the years is that Herb was indeed always Right – as in correct – because he was educating people about the biblical, historical, and legal entitlement of the Jews to the Holy Land.
I first met Herb in 1995 after receiving a call from him inviting me to his Manhattan office to be interviewed for the position of AFSI executive director. All I’d known about him prior to the meeting was that he opposed the Oslo “peace process” that had been all the rage among Jewish liberals since the famous signing and handshake on the White House lawn in September 1993.
It didn’t seem to matter to people that on the very day Arafat signed the treaty, he spoke to the Arab world in Arabic, boasting that there was no need to honor a treaty with infidels, which included all non-Muslims.
Herb Zweibon understood there could be no peace with an entity that refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. He saw it as his mission to expose the lies, myths and fallacies of the deceitful “peace process,” and to keep educating people with the truth.
Herb and I had our meeting. I was totally charmed by this man with sparkling blue eyes that reflected the keen intelligence, kindness and humor that were his outstanding characteristics. We liked each other immediately, and I agreed to take over as director at AFSI.
The guiding philosophy of the organization, learned by Herb from his mentors, Shmuel Katz and Ze’ev Jabotinsky, was easy to absorb. Shmuel Katz had been a disciple of Jabotinsky, who unhesitatingly proclaimed in 1925 that “the aim of Zionism is the establishment of a Jewish state.”
A Jewish state – a Jewish national home – must mean a Jewish majority, the right of Jews to live everywhere in that homeland, and political control in the hands of Jews. Unfortunately, even in Jabotinsky’s day there were “practical” Zionists who were afraid to deal with the British and the Arabs. Those were the days when euphemisms were adopted to soften the blow of what an “extremist” like Jabotinsky would express.
The appeasers and conciliators are still very much in our midst today. They are compelled to disguise the truth, to reflect an unrealistic optimism, to misguide and misinform Jews who are so eager to be misled into believing the Arab world really doesn’t want their destruction.

Perhaps it is because Jews have lived through so many expulsions, reigns of terror, pogroms and slaughters that they want to believe their enemies can become their friends. It takes a person who is impervious to attack, who has the strength of conviction about his Judaism and his purpose, to continue speaking the truth in the face of the mountain of lies.

Such a man was Herb Zweibon, and he taught me to do the same.
* * * * *
While the world was pushing for the “two-state solution” and the quartet’s road map, Herb and I were working in the opposite direction. It was clear the Arabs were not interested only in Judea and Samaria, half of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gush Katif. Their textbooks, their maps, and their rhetoric clearly teach their young children that the acquisition of all of Israel is their goal.
We kept pointing out that the Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964, when Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem were in the hands of the Jordanians and the Golan was controlled by Syria.
What lands was Arafat “liberating”? When the Arabs rioted in 1920, 1921, 1929, and in the pogroms of 1936-1938, what were the land disputes then? After the miraculous victories of the 1967 defensive war against the Arabs, Israel regained Judea and Samaria, united Jerusalem, annexed the Golan, and encouraged the development of the communities in Gush Katif/Gaza.
But instead of celebrating these great victories with a declaration of a whole Israel once more in Jewish hands, the policies of appeasement and giveaway began once the immediate afterglow of victory began to wear off.
The lies about the “occupied territories” and the PA narrative about alleged ancient Palestinian Arab ties to the holy land were in full swing. Most of the Jewish establishment organizations began pushing for “solutions.” Herb and I, along with the national and international organization he had built, began working in every way possible to stem the tide.
   Outpost, AFSI’s monthly publication edited by Rael Jean Isaac, one of the founders of AFSI, with the assistance of Ruth King, always featured Herb’s front-page editorial and served as our educational tool to enlighten and inform people. It became a hugely respected publication.
The educational track continued with the publication of Shmuel Katz’s Battleground, detailing the true history of the Jewish people in Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel. AFSI underwrote the publication and distribution of Katz’s definitive two-volume biography of Jabotinsky, Lone Wolf. And we are now distributing Katz’s book The Aaronsohn Saga, the fascinating and tragic biography of Sarah and Aaron Aaronsohn.
In 2010 Herb created the website www.shmuelkatz.comto promote the ideology of Shmuel Katz. In the same year, he began developing Zionism101, a new program of videos featuring the great Zionist leaders. Convinced that there was a dearth of knowledge among Israeli students about Israel’s heroes, in 2010 he sponsored the very successful Jabotinsky essay contest. Hundreds of Jabotinsky essays were submitted with the winners receiving cash prizes. Israel’s minister of education, Gideon Saar, participated in the project and agreed to include the study of Jabotinsky in the school curriculum.
Herb was thrilled with this success. His Israeli assistants on this project were former MK Michael Kleiner, a dear friend with whom Herb had almost daily conversations, and our Jerusalem AFSI chairman, Bill Mehlman, who has been with AFSI for over 15 years.
There was something otherworldly about the fact that Herb completed these projects involving his heroes just before his death. He seemed to know he had to get the job done before it was too late. Since it was Shmuel Katz who had been responsible for the founding of Americans for a Safe Israel, it was only fitting that Katz and Jabotinsky should have been with Herb at the end of his life.
* * * * *
From the very beginning of our relationship, Herb and I agreed it wasn’t enough to “talk the talk;” we also had to “walk the walk.” And so it was that we embarked on an extremely activist-oriented program of press releases, demonstrations, lectures, conferences, TV appearances, radio interviews, visits to our elected officials, including senators and congressmen in Washington, press conferences, working with Knesset members, and the extremely popular and exciting semi-annual Chizuk (strength) missions to Israel, which remain a central focus of the AFSI program.
   One example of our form of activism that stands out strongly in my memory occurred in the early winter of 2000. Then-President Bill Clinton and then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak were making plans to give the Golan to the brutal dictator Assad of Syria. It would cost American taxpayers close to $100 billion to have Assad agree to take the strategically vital Golan and it would mean expelling 18,000 Jews from their homes, farms, and communities. U.S. troops would become “peacekeepers” on the Golan, replacing Israeli soldiers.
Herb and I mobilized the AFSI troops and we took a long bus ride to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to protest the “Leading the Sheep to the Slaughter.” Subsequently, we held a press conference in Washington on Feb. 8 of that year to which we had invited family members of the 242 U.S. Marines who had been murdered in the terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983. Other American lives had been lost in the earlier bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Following the bombings, President Reagan had withdrawn the remaining “peacekeepers” from Lebanon and the news of the terrible loss of lives disappeared from the front pages and from peoples’ memories. Of course, the families of those killed remained scarred forever. Debbie Peterson, the sister of Cpl. James Chandonnet Knipple, USMC, was one who agreed to speak out. She said, “Politics killed my brother; politics is driving the Golan giveaway – and by paying Assad with American dollars, we will be paying for our own destruction.”
Joining us in our efforts were Christian Congressional friends like Jim Saxton of New Jersey and Tom Davis of Virginia, along with Richard Hellman with members of his group Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign (CIPAC). Fortunately, our efforts, helped along by so many others, contributed to keeping the Golan in Israeli hands.
Herb was long convinced that evangelical Christians – with their belief in the Bible and the need to preserve the biblical heritage in the land of Israel, the promised homeland of the Jewish people – would be better friends to Israel than many Jews.
Ed McAteer, president of the Religious Roundtable, Gary Bauer of American Values, and Pastor Bob Upton of the Apostolic Congress joined AFSI in June 2003 as we launched the “One State Solution Campaign,” underwritten by Herb and AFSI, to combat the quartet’s road map. Key swing states were targeted and billboards were put up in Colorado, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.
“We are trying to explain,” Herb said in a May 2003 interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, “[that the road map] would separate the Jews permanently from their entitlements to the Holy places, such as Hebron, Beit El, Shiloh, Shechem, and Ofra – all the places good Christian bible believers know.”
It is to these holy places that the semi-annual AFSI Chizuk missions travel. We just completed our 30th trip and are planning the next one for May 29-June 7. As always, many of the same members join us on the trips. Not only do they feel inspired by the places we visit, they have formed close attachments to the brave, selfless and devoted people in the disputed areas.
Herb often joined us on the missions. Because of our many visits to the former Gush Katif, and the close friendships formed with the people there, AFSI was in the forefront of protesting the expulsion. We sponsored the Orange Shabbat across America, ran conferences, and brought in delegations from Israel to speak at demonstrations.
It is now five and a half years since the expulsion and those who were cast out are still suffering and living in temporary homes. The Chizuk missions continue to visit the people in their temporary homes, offering as much encouragement as possible. We have taken up their motto: “We will never forget; we will never forgive.”
Sderot, Hebron, the Hebron hills, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, eastern Jerusalem, the Knesset, the Kotel, the communities of Judea and Samaria, the Galilee, the Golan, the Negev, Safed, the Jordan Valley, as well as the new communities that are just beginning to be constructed for the displaced refugees from the destroyed Gush Katif communities – all are on our itinerary at different times.
Renewing the friendships as we travel from place to place is one of the greatest joys of our travels. And it is through these trips that we have also come to know the Knesset members who are our friends and support our ideology. Herb bonded with these men and women, forming close relationships that continued through the years.
The demonstrations we conducted at Annapolis, at the UN, the Israeli embassy in New York, at City College, at the Jewish Museum, in Washington, at Hadassah Headquarters (when we protested the giving of the Henrietta Szold award to Hillary Clinton), against the construction freeze, against the Ground Zero mosque – these were just some of the events we organized in our fight for our beloved Israel.
Just before Herb’s death, he wrote what would be his last editorial for Outpost. There he celebrated the demolition of the Shepherd’s Hotel in Jerusalem, a hotel purchased in 1985 by dear friends of Herb’s, Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, which would finally be developed to provide housing for Jews. He concluded with a clarion call for strength and an assertion of the Jewish people’s legitimate rights to their homeland.
May Herb’s legacy inspire and energize others for generations to come. His memory will always be with us.

Helen Freedman is executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI.

AFSI Founder Herb Zweibon Dies At 84

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Veteran pro-Israel activist Herbert Zweibon, founder and chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI, passed away in New York on Jan. 20 at age 84.

“It’s hard to come to grips with the loss of such a giant of a man as Herb Zweibon,” said AFSI Executive Director Helen Freedman. “The biblical roadmap requiring a whole Israel – ‘Yisrael shleyma‘ – became Herb’s guiding philosophy.

“It was my great privilege to work alongside this kind, wise, dedicated visionary for fifteen years. The experiences we shared on chizuk missions to the threatened communities in Israel, our educational trips to Washington, our many demonstrations on behalf of Israel, the AFSI conferences, were all memorable events.

“But most of all, Herb never brooded over the many problems confronting Israel. Instead, he was always thinking of what could be done to improve the situation. This was Herb’s great gift to us – his ability to understand the larger picture and to create the path to positive action on behalf of a whole and safe Israel.”

Moshe Phillips, president of the Philadelphia chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel, said Zweibon “was born and raised in an extended family that was one of the leading pillars of the Jabotinsky movement in America since the 1940s. No American did more in the last 20 years to make sure Jabotinsky’s memory was perpetuated than Herb.”

Phillips pointed out that AFSI under Zweibon’s direction organized and sponsored an annual Manhattan memorial event for Jabotinsky and in 2010 distributed a biographical booklet titled “Jabotinsky – The Man And The Vision,” written by AFSI’s Jerusalem representative William Mehlman (available online at www.afsi.org/pamphlets/Jabotinsky).

Zweibon, Phillips added, “was one of the key financial supporters who enabled Shmuel Katz to research and write his groundbreaking 1996 two-volume biography of Jabotinsky, Lone Wolf. Herb had AFSI continue to sell and distribute Lone Wolf and Katz’s other classic books even after Katz’s death in 2008.”

As a means of perpetuating Jabotinsky’s teachings, Zweibon came up with the idea of a nationwide essay contest for Israeli high school students and, said Phillips, “was involved in every detail of the initiative. The inaugural contest, in 2010, marked the 70th anniversary of Jabotinsky’s death.”

The Jabotinsky National Essay Contest, Phillips noted, “had 15 winners and hundreds of competitors with an awards ceremony held in the Knesset.”

David Wilder, spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, described Zweibon as “a righteous man [who] will be sorely missed.”

Wilder described AFSI as “one of those rare organizations which I can define as pure. Without any hidden agendas, without any need or desire for anything for itself.”

Ruth King, an editorial board member of AFSI’s monthly Outpost publication, recalled Zweibon as “a proud Zionist who was never dazzled by momentary hallucinations of peace and recognition from Israel’s enemies. He remained unbowed in the face of trendy feel-good pretense and was committed to the fact that only a safe, secure and impregnable Israel within its legitimate and historic borders was the sole guarantor for the safety of Jews in the world.”

Zweibon himself explained that the goal of AFSI was not to support the government of Israel but rather the land of Israel.

“It makes little difference to us whether the government of the United States or the government of Israel believe that they can somehow compromise with the Muslim community. This just will not happen,” he said in a 2007 interview with the Jerusalem Post.

“Everyone has a responsibility to prevent someone else from committing suicide,” he said.

Zweibon is survived by his wife, Sheila; sons Donald, Mark and Kenneth; grandchildren Zachary, Jesse, Danielle, Michelle, and Shou; and his sister, Lillian Rudnick.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky: 70 Years Since The Passing Of An Exceptional Zionist

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

A portrait of Ze’ev Jabotinsky may still adorn Likud conventions in Israel, but the ideas of this great Zionist leader – who passed away 70 years ago this week – are essentially forgotten and/or ignored.

Born in 1880 in Odessa, Russia, Jabotinsky – who founded Revisionist Zionism and the New Zionist Organization and headed the Haganah and later the Irgun – represents that rare brand of Zionist who is comfortable in his own skin and unabashedly demands what is rightfully his. Unlike many Israelis nowadays, Jabotinsky never cared what Arabs – or anyone else, for that matter – thought of the Zionist project. “Zionism is a moral and just movement,” he once wrote. “And if it is a just cause, justice must win, disregarding the agreement or disagreement of anyone. And if Joseph or Simeon or Ivan or Achmed would like to prevent the victory of the just cause because it is inconvenient for them, it is a duty to prevent them from successfully interfering.”

Most Zionist leaders in the 1920s and ’30s disagreed. Although not widely known today, for many years mainstream Zionists refused  to declare the creation of a Jewish state to be Zionism’s ultimate goal for fear of antagonizing the Arabs and the British.

Great Britain, of course, issued the Balfour Declaration, which favored “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” In the years after this declaration, however, Great Britain gradually adopted the Arab position opposing Jewish immigration to Palestine. Jabotinsky argued that pro-Arab British officials stationed in the Middle East prior to the Balfour Declaration were responsible for this slow policy shift and demanded their replacement. He also believed Zionists should appeal directly to British public opinion, which he believed favored the Zionist cause.

Jabotinsky, however, was outvoted. Mainstream Zionists preferred not to rock the boat. If they complained to British officials at all, they did so privately, quietly and with much diplomatic finesse. The result, of course, was that Great Britain patiently listened to the Zionists but then aligned itself with the Arabs who tended to express their opinions a bit more forcefully – often by rioting or killing Jews.

Aside from pure self-interest, Great Britain also found itself naturally attracted to the more self-assertive Arabs. As British parliamentarian Josiah Wedgwood put it:

 

We like people who will fight, even though we think they are entirely wrong . The Arabs stand up and fight . On the other hand the Jews are always complaining and begging for justice. That of course is the result of 1800 years of servitude. For 1800 years they have been dependent on the good graces of governments and never on their own right arm, and therefore they have the attitude which instinctively antagonizes every Englishman in Palestine . The attitude of supplication, of living on your knees, has a very bad effect among the respectable nations with the Jews.

 

But Jewish leaders like Zionist Organization President Chaim Weizmann apparently did not understand this natural human contempt for meekness. Hence, instead of demanding British support for Jewish statehood, Weizmann backed off. By 1930, he already wrote in a letter, “I am not for a [Jewish State] . The propaganda which is carried out in certain Zionist circles, like the Revisionists, for a Jewish State, is foolish and harmful…and you could just as well ask for a Jewish State in Manhattan Island.”

Jabotinsky, of course, was of a different psychological makeup. As Count Michal Lubienski, head of the Polish Foreign Office, once said:

 

Dr. Weizmann has all the chances to retain the allegiance of the Jewish people – because his entire mentality is identical with that of the average ghetto Jew. Jabotinsky’s mentality is spiritually nearer to me, a gentile. I understand him better, he invokes in me a kindred response. For the ghetto Jew, he is, on the contrary, too simple, too direct. He will be listened to, applauded, but he will be followed only by those who have overcome the ghetto complex.

 

Jabotinsky had no inhibitions about demanding what was his. “Yes, we do want a state,” he told Britain’s Parliament in 1937, “every nation on earth, every normal nation beginning with the smallest and the humblest who do not claim any merit, any role in humanity’s development, they all have states of their own. That is the normal condition of a people.”

Jabotinsky’s desire for a state was also influenced by his conviction that Jews had no future in Europe. He wrote in 1919, “Zionism is the answer to the massacre of the Jews. It is neither a moral consolation nor an intellectual exercise.”

Jabotinsky, however, increasingly found himself at odds with mainstream Zionist leaders in the 1920s and ’30s. When Palestinian Arabs killed hundreds of Jews between 1936-1939, most Zionist leaders urged Jews to maintain havlaga (restraint), but Jabotinsky would not sanction “a situation in which everything is forbidden the Jew and everything permitted the Arab, a situation in which the Jew can be compared to a terrified mouse, while the Arab feels at home everywhere.” He permitted the Irgun to retaliate against the Arabs.

When mainstream Zionist leaders excoriated the Irgun for killing innocent civilians, Jabotinsky responded:

 

[T]his is superficial and hypocritical babble. In war, every war, every side is innocent. What crime has the enemy soldier committed against me – a pauper just like me, blind like me, a slave like me – who has been forcibly mobilized. If war breaks out, all of us will demand, unanimously, a sea-blockade and a blockade of the enemy’s land, to starve the inhabitants, innocent women and children; and after the aerial attacks on London and Paris we shall expect the reply by planes over Stuttgart and Milan, where there are many women and children. All wars are wars of innocents . That is why every war and its agonies are cursed, for aggressor and victim alike. If you do not want to hurt the innocent, commit suicide. And if you do not want to commit suicide – shoot and don’t babble.

 

Jabotinsky remained outside mainstream Zionism most of his life. His ideas grew progressively more popular as Great Britain’s perfidy intensified in the 1930s, and his New Zionist Organization, given enough time, might have eventually overshadowed the Zionist Organization. World War II, however, overtook world Jewry in 1939, and a year later – on August 4, 1940 – Jabotinsky died while visiting a Betar camp in upstate New York.

But Jabotinsky’s death did not lessen the rancor mainstream Zionists felt toward him. In 1956, when Jabotinsky’s followers inquired into reburying their hero’s remains in Israel, David Ben-Gurion replied that Israel “needs live Jews, not dead Jews.”

Jabotinsky’s ideas, of course, live on. They heavily influenced such leaders as Irgun commander Menachem Begin, Lechi head Israel Eldad and Kach founder Meir Kahane – and continue to inspire younger generations of Zionists. Throughout Israel’s history, however, the Jewish state’s leaders have represented Weizmann’s brand of Zionism far more than they have Jabotinsky’s. Indeed, when one reads Shmuel Katz’s absorbing biography of Jabotinsky (The Lone Wolf) or Israel Eldad’s fascinating memoirs (The First Tithe), one is struck by how similar leading Zionist personalities in the 1920s-40s resemble contemporary Israeli leaders.

            Nor are the Jews’ leaders the only people who haven’t changed. The Jewish masses, unfortunately, remain the same in certain regards as well. Jabotinsky said the following at a rally in Warsaw in 1939, but he could just as well have been speaking to many Israeli Jews in 2010 who sigh, “Mah la’asot? – What can we do?” as their country slowly falls apart around them:

 

I state with shame that the people behave now as if they were already doomed. I have not found anything like it, neither in history nor in novels. Never did I read of such acquiescence with fate. It is as if twelve million educated people were put in a carriage and the carriage was being pushed towards an abyss. How do such people behave? One is crying, one is smoking a cigarette, some are reading newspapers, someone is singing – but in vain will you look for one who will stand up, take the reins into his hands and move the carriage somewhere else. This is the mood. As if some big enemy came and chloroformed their minds. I come to you now to make an experiment. The last experiment. I cry to you: Put an end to this situation! Try to stop the carriage, try to jump out of it, try to put some obstacle in its way, don’t go like sheep to the wolf.

 

            Elliot Resnick is a staff reporter for The Jewish Press and holds a Masters Degree in Jewish History from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

Author Resurrects ‘Patterson of Palestine’

Monday, December 29th, 2008

He was Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu’s godfather. President Teddy Roosevelt counted him as a friend. And in a recently published biography, author Denis Brian calls him the father of the Israeli army. His name is Colonel John Henry Patterson.

During World War I Patterson trained and commanded the Jewish soldiers of the Zion Mule Corps and the 38th Battalion of the British army’s Royal Fusiliers, one of several battalions that comprised the Jewish Legion. Many of these soldiers, Brian argues, formed the backbone of what later became the Israeli army in 1948. “Without those men it’s almost certain that Israel would have been defeated,” Brian says.

 Greatly influenced by his wartime experience, Patterson, a non-Jew, spent the remainder of his life (he died in 1947) lobbying for the Zionist cause. He worked alongside the likes of Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who had lobbied for and then fought in the Jewish Legion; Benzion Netanyahu, the father of former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieutenant Colonel Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed in Israel’s 1976 raid at Entebbe Airport; and Peter Bergson of the activist Bergson Group.

 Patterson is most famous in history for his lion-hunting exploits in Africa in 1898, which are depicted in three movies. However, what most fascinates Brian, author of The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson, is Patterson’s unusual dedication to Zionism. Brian recently spoke with The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: How do you explain Patterson’s love for Jews and dedication to Zionism?

Brian: He was very impressed with the Jewish soldiers he fought with and got to know. He was particularly impressed with Jabotinsky, who he regarded as a great individual as well as a great leader.

 He obviously was also brought up on the Bible, which influenced him a great deal. That, in fact, is also why many of the American presidents have been so pro-Zionist from the very start. You may not know this, but John Adams, the second president of the United States, wanted 100,00 Jews to invade Palestine and take it over. He recommended this in a correspondence with a Jewish friend.

 You write of an incident in which Patterson stood up for the honor of Jews.

 Yes, a fairly high-ranking British officer called one of his soldiers a dirty Jew.  He had his men surround the officer with bayonets and got him to apologize. Then he contacted the British government and the man was sent abroad.

Patterson worked more closely with Revisionist Zionists like Jabotinsky than Labor Zionists like Chaim Weizmann or David Ben-Gurion. Why?

 Being a military man and a historian, Patterson believed one had to fight for one’s existence. That was more in line with Jabotinsky’s idea than that of Weizmann, who felt it was more important to be diplomatic, discuss things with the British, depend on the British, etc.

Why did you write this book?

I wrote a biography of Ernest Hemingway in which I discovered that one of his books, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, was based on Patterson’s experience in Africa. Then I discovered that people didn’t know that Patterson was a man of many lives. Almost everybody thought he just had to do with lion hunting, but then I discovered that he had this Jewish link, which I found much more fascinating. I had previously written a biography of Einstein, so I knew about what was happening in Palestine at the time. So the whole thing got together like that.

You write in the book that history has not been fair to Patterson. How so?

I think that other than Harry Truman, no non-Jew has been more responsible for Israel’s existence than Patterson. Israel would not have won in 1948 without the trained leaders that came out of Patterson’s army.

 But he’s not given his due. He’s probably known to 1 in 10,000 people in Israel and to even fewer in America. Many people know of Lawrence of Arabia. Well, he was Patterson of Palestine and, in fact, Patterson had much more of an effect than Lawrence on the future of the Middle East.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles//2008/12/29/

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