(Editor’s Note: Ze’ev Jabotinsky was born in October so in reprinting this tribute to him we commemorate him on the one hundred and thirty second anniversary of his birth. Jabotinsky remains AFSI’s inspiration as he was the inspiration for his one-time secretary Shmuel Katz, who had a more direct role in AFSI’s birth. For those who would like to see a five part video on his life–25 minutes in all–we strongly recommend David Isaac’s new project, Zionism 101, The Founding Fathers, at http://www.zionism101.org).
One hundred years ago, at the port city of Odessa, a son was born in the house of Jabotinsky. Today, as we gather to memorialize and rejoice marking the 100th anniversary of his birth, we must say his life and work had changed the history of the Jewish people.
From his youth and up until his passing, Jabotinsky devoted his life to the salvation of our people, to free its land, Eretz Yisrael, to renew its Jewish forces, to educate a generation of warriors, to preach for social justice and its implementation, to create a sense of pride in every Jew for being born as such, and above all – to renew Zionism and fight the continuous battle for the establishment of an independent Jewish state.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a man of many talents in various fields, but his efforts and thoughts were concentrated on achieving his goal of educating the new Jewish character: The quiet, proud, devoted, faithful one who loves his people and is willing to make any sacrifice for their salvation, national freedom and honor. In both of these fields he achieved complete success and his victory met his aspirations. Indeed, he acknowledged the heroic fighters, and he was the one to provide them and the people as well with the flag raised by Herzl, the flag of renewed Jewish nationalism.
There are a few who claim that Jabotinsky was a tragic figure, for he dreamed, made sacrifices and suffered greatly, but yet he did not live to see his work come to fruition, for he had collapsed while working to achieve his goal and his life ended while on foreign land. This is far from the case. It is true – as of many others in history – that Jabotinsky’s victory was achieved after his passing. However, he was a winning figure; his goal was accomplished, a generation of fighters had come to life and the State of Israel was renewed from the pit of decay and dust. A Jewish force had come to life – a kind not seen since the time of the Maccabees.
Few are the men in history that have such powerful, clear triumphs. For us, Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a tutor, the carrier of hopes. Our souls were bound. We never, G-d forbid, anticipated his death and I can therefore say, 40 years after his passing, that he continues to live in our hearts. Throughout troubling times of rebellion and revival, we continue to stop and ponder: Under these conditions, what would Ze’ev Jabotinsky have done, how would he conduct himself and what would have been his decision.
Menachem BeginBut it is not only incumbent on us, the Jewish people in our land and in the Diaspora, to make this day marking the 100th anniversary of his birth one of high spirits and a renewal of faith. It is a day to pledge that we continue to follow in his footsteps and to work toward accomplishing his social and political beliefs until our final living days. Indeed – Ze’ev Jabotinsky is among us, he is eternal!