A CONVERSATION WITH JABOTINSKY

By Boris Shusteff

"The political naivete of a Jew is legendary and incredible: he does not understand the simple rule that he should never make concessions to anybody, who does not want to make concessions to him....." (Zeev Jabotinsky. "The Ethics of the Iron Wall")

On May 5, 1997 the Palestinian Authority implemented the Jordanian laws prohibiting the sale of land to the Jews. "Our struggle is about land," said Ahmed Qureia, speaker of the Palestinian legislative counsel. "The death penalty will be imposed on anyone who is convicted of selling one inch(of land) to Israel" Justice Minister of Palestinian Authority Freih Abu Medein declared in an interview. "Even middlemen involved in such deals will face the same penalty."

For the Palestinian Arabs, the infamous Oslo process is only a means to gain land from Israel, to create another Palestinian state and eventually to destroy the Jewish state. They will use the slogan "peace for land" until the moment it works for them and gives them more and more territories. Piece by piece they will snatch it from Israel. But as soon as Israel stops giving it voluntarily, the struggle for land will continue under a different slogan: "Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!"

The tragedy of the Jewish people is in the ignorance of their own history. All the political issues that are dividing the Israelis today were discussed by Zeev Jabotinsky more then 70 years ago. His brilliant articles "About the Iron Wall" and "The Ethics of the Iron Wall" are must read materials for every Jew who cares about Israel's survival.

The two articles are the burning issues of the day, just as they were in 1924. In my imaginary conversation with Jabotinsky, the excerpts from his articles will be marked quotation marks and highlighted, making his voice easily recognizable.

B: I would like to ask you a very important question. Is peaceful coexistence possible between Israel and the Arabs?

J: You need to state this question little bit differently. *Better to ask weather it is possible to achieve peace through peaceful means. It does not depend on our attitude towards the Arabs. It depends only on the Arab's attitude towards Zionism. You cannot speak about voluntary reconciliation between us and the Palestinian Arabs now or in the near future. Only those who are born blind do not understand the complete impossibility of achieving a voluntary consent from the Palestinian Arabs to transform Palestine into a country with a Jewish majority. Every indigenous people views its country as a National home where it wants to remain the complete master forever.

All of us want peace with the Arabs. To prove this to any Jew is equivalent to braking through an open door. It is not we but the Palestinian Arabs who are the stumbling block.*

B: What about all the advantages the Palestinian Arabs have achieved because of our presence? We have improved their lives, we built them universities, we gave them running water and electricity, we... .

J: Sorry to interrupt you, but "there are many among us who try to convince us that Arabs either fools, who can be deceived with beautiful wording of our goals, or a corrupt tribe that will cede their preeminence in Palestine for cultural and economical benefits. I categorically reject this view of the Palestinian Arabs. They are as good at psychology as we are. They understand the depth of our soul as well as we understand theirs. And they treat Palestine at least with the same instinctive love and natural jealousy as the Aztecs had for their Mexico. It is a fantasy that they will voluntarily agree to accept Zionism in exchange for the cultural and material advantages that Jewish colonization brings with itself. It is a childish fantasy, born in the minds of our "Arabophiles" because of their prejudiced contempt for the Arabs, who think about them as rabble who are ready to sell their homeland for a good railway network. Even if some Arabs are corrupt it does not mean that Palestinian Arabs in general will sell their jealous patriotism. Every people fights against colonizers until the last glimmer of hope to get rid of the colonizing threat. This is how the Palestinian Arabs act and will act while there is a last glimmer of hope."

B: So you say that the Jews are colonizers?

J: I say that the Arabs see them in this way. The Jews are returning home. As you are well aware the Jewish presence in Eretz Israel was never interrupted during the 20 centuries that followed the second destruction of the Temple. Every time the restrictions against Jews were eased they were returning to their homeland. " The question on the morality of Zionism was answered positively long ago. And if it is moral( i.e. just), the justice must be implemented anybody's consent or disagreement notwithstanding. And if A, B or C want to forcefully prevent this justice from happening, because they feel disadvantaged, we must also use force to prevent them from doing this. This is the only ethics; no other ethics exist. Either our colonization must stop or it must continue against the will of the [pseudo] indigenous population. That means it can continue and develop only under the protection of a force that does not depend on the [pseudo] indigenous population-- the iron wall that can not be broken through. What was the meaning of the Mandate? The external force took up on itself the guarantees to create in the country such conditions of control and order under which the [pseudo] indigenous population, contrary to it desires, was unable to disturb the colonization administratively or physically." The Mandate spoke about 'the civil and religious rights of the [pseudo] indigenous population' but it never required their consent. "

B: Do you want to say that no agreements can be achieved with The Palestinian Arabs?

J: "Only a voluntarily agreement is impossible. While there is a glimmer of hope among the Arabs that they can get rid of us, they will not sell this hope for any sweet words, for any tasty sandwiches, because they are not rabble but a people,( maybe backward but alive). A living people goes to compromises on such global and fatal questions only when there is no hope left whatsoever, when there are no more cracks in the iron wall. Only then will the extreme groups, with their extreme slogans of "never ever" lose their charm and the influence will shift to moderate groups. Only then will these moderate groups come to us with suggestions of mutual compromises. This will happen; it cannot be otherwise, only the iron wall will reconcile Arabs with Zionism, once and for all."

B: Don't you think that a "gentleman's" approach can also work?

J: Let me answer with "a story in the Talmud. Two people walking along a road found a piece of cloth. One said, "I found it, it is all mine." The other said, "No, I found it, it is mine." Then, a judge divides the cloth into two equal parts and each stubborn person receives a half. Now, let us imagine a situation when only one of the people is stubborn and the other one decides to surprise the world with his gentleman's behavior. He says, "We found the cloth together; therefore, I have a claim only for one half and the second half belongs to you." The other person is adamant, "I found it. It is all mine." In this situation the Talmud recommends to the judge a solution that is smart, but unpleasant for the first gentleman. The judge says:" There is no disagreement about one half. The first gentleman admits that it belongs to the other. The argument is only about the second half; therefore, we will cut it into halves. As a result the stubborn person receives 75% and the "gentleman" only 25%. It serves the "gentleman" right."

Alas, we have already received our "gentleman's" lesson but we did not learn it. The Article 5 of the Mandate stated, "The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under control of the Government of any foreign Power." In 1922 Britain violated the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Mandate by creating a new country-- Transjordan, on the territory that was planned for the settlement of the Jews. It was a tragedy. Instantly we lost 76% of the lands where the Jews would have been able to settle. The Jews were banned from buying land in Transjordan. Instead of raising our voice against the blatant breach of the Mandate we "gentlemanly" swallowed it. We wanted to believe that others would behave as gentlemen too. But they didn't. And we lost another portion when in 1947 the world decided to grant us a very small part of western Palestine. We were again grateful, even for this tiny piece of land, hoping that the "gentlemanly " Arabs will accept us this time. We were proven wrong again.

B: It looks like the recent statement by the Palestinian Minister of Justice that "92% of the Land within the green line is owned by Palestinians" just supports your bitter observations.

J: It only proves the necessity to strengthen the iron wall. Look, by 1946 the Jews were able to purchase only seven percent of land in Palestine. The British, instead of encouraging "the close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes,'' as was stated in Article 6 of the Mandate, gave this land to the Arabs. The Arabs never recognized the creation of the Jewish state. This is why they say today that 92% of the land belongs to them. Please, I want you to realize that they are speaking not only about lands in Judea and Samaria, they say "it includes all the cities--Jaffa, Ramle, Haifa." We cannot agree to any compromise on these issues. We must build. We must build every day. Build everywhere. In Judea, in Samaria, in Gaza, in Galilee. We must stop talking and start acting. The modern Israel came into existence through settlement activity. The Arabs were against our settlement 70 years ago, and

they are against it today. Nevertheless, we have to continue to settle in our land. " There is only one truth in the world and it is in your possession, if you are not sure about it, sit at home; but if you are sure, do not look back and everything will end up being as you want."

B: But don't Palestinian Arabs deserve their own country?

J: You know as well as I do that they have it. It is Jordan. You can not keep giving at the Jews' expense. "There was a typical case when one of the people in the old Russian Empire started a crusade against the Jews calling for boycotts and pogroms. Concurrently, the same people were fighting for their autonomy, openly declaring that it was going to use this autonomy for greater persecution of the Jews. Nevertheless, the Jewish publicists and politicians, even from the national camp, considered it to be their duty to support the autonomous aspirations of their enemies. Apparently autonomy is a sacred thing. We in general consider it to be our duty, as soon as we hear

the"Marseillese" to freeze at attention and yell hooray-- and it does not matter if Haman, himself, plays this melody while Jewish bones are cracking in his barrel-organ. We call this political morality. This is not morality. This is lechery. Communal life is build on reciprocity; take the reciprocity away and the law becomes a lie. The gentleman who at this moment passes in the street in front of my window has the right to live because, and only because, he admits my right to life. If on the other hand he wants to kill me, I do not acknowledge any rights to his life."

B: I would like to return to my first question about the peace. Is it possible?

J: Sorry, if I did not make it clear. It is very simple. Today, when Israel is struggling for her existence the building of the iron wall is more important than ever before. Only the continuous creation of new settlements and the expansion of existing ones can bring the situation when the Arabs will lose their last glimmer of hope to get rid of us. Only then will they start real negotiations. Any other policy is a road to disaster. Arrests of the settlers, demolition of Jewish homes(as happened in Mitzpeh Yericho and in Yitzhar), orders to six Kiryat Arba residents, including three reserves officers, to surrender weapons that were issued them for self-defense, all these measures only widen the breaches and gaps in the wall, while raising the Arabs' expectations. To be frank, today the iron wall looks like Swiss cheese with a morass of holes. It will be very difficult to strengthen and to repair it. But this is the only road towards Israel's survival. "We cannot rely on anybody's help. We must remember that we will be saved not through some foreign people's liking but only through our independent action. We do not have to look to the left or to the right, we will not wait for praise either from strangers, or from ones who wanted to become strangers. The homeland of Garibaldi during unification, rejected outside assistance. She proclaimed the principle "L'Italia tara de se" -- Italy will help itself-- and achieved victory.* Remember Hillel's "If I am not for myself..."? Nobody, nobody will help us.

We must build the wall ourselves." We must have a government inaccessible to Arabs and foreign influences. For us the only way to an agreement in the future must be complete rejection of all attempts to reach agreements today.

There will be peace in Palestine, but only when the Jews become the majority or when the Arabs will come to the conclusion that this is unavoidable, i.e. only then when it will become clear to the Arabs that the "solution of the problem" does not depend on their consent.

This will happen when the iron wall will force Arabs to accept Zionism once and for all."

WHAT'S IN A NAME

I would like to clarify one issue that started the debate after "A Conversation With Jabotinsky"appeared on the Internet. The two articles "About the Iron Wall" and "The Ethics of the Iron Wall" must be read in full; then there would not be discrepancies in interpreting Jabotinsky's words. Zhabotinsky never defined Palestinian Arabs as a separate people, he always considered them as a part of the Arab nation.

This why he never used the term "Palestinians." He never questioned that there were Arabs living in Palestine, but he always emphasized that they were a part of the big Arab nation.

"There are 38 million [circa 1920] Arabs in the world. They occupy Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Tripolitania, Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia -- territory (not counting deserts) as big as half of Europe. On average there are 16 Arabs per square mile in this huge territory. It is good to remember for comparison that there are 352 persons per square mile in Sicily and 669 in England. This even more helpful to remember that Palestine constitutes approximately one two hundredth of this territory (by Palestine Jabotinsky means Mandated Palestine consisting of territory located on both sides of the Jordan river--BS). When homeless Jewry demands Palestine for itself, this is called 'immoral' because the indigenous people find it uncomfortable for themselves. This kind of ethics is good only among cannibals, and not in a civilized society. To take land away from landowning people to give it to a wandering people is an act of justice. If the landowning people do not want this, which is natural, it has to be forced. Truth implemented by force does not stop being a holy truth" (The Ethics of the Iron Wall, 1924).

On February 11, 1937 in his speech in London in the House of Lords Jabotinsky stated: "We maintain unanimously that the economic position of the Palestinian Arabs, under Jewish colonization and owing to Jewish colonization, has become the object of envy in all the surrounding Arab countries, so that Arabs from these countries show a clear tendency to emigrate into Palestine....What I do not deny that ... the Arabs of Palestine will necessarily become a minority in the country of Palestine. What I do deny is that this is a hardship. It is not a hardship on any race, any nation, possessing so many National States now and so many National States in the future. One fraction, one branch of that race, and not a big one, will have to live in someone else's State: well, that is the case with all the mightiest nations of the world. I could hardly mention one of the big nations, having their States, mighty and powerful, who had not one branch living in someone else's State. That is only normal and there is no 'hardship' attached to that."

The above excerpts clearly show that Jabotinsky viewed Palestinian Arabs as a small branch of the Arab nation. In regards to "Palestine" itself, as it is well known, the name was introduced by the Romans in 132 CE after Bar Kochba's unsuccessful rebellion. Judea was renamed into Syria-Paleastina in an attempt to uproot the Jews from their land and to erase the Jewish statehood from mankind's memory.

In 1099, after the Crusaders invaded the Land, the name "Palestine" went into oblivion. The Crusaders named the territory the Kingdom of Jerusalem. When in 1291 the Mamluks rose to power they have divided the territory into several regions that received names: Mamlaka of Gaza, Mamlaka of Safed and Mamlaka of Damascus. When in 1516 the territory was conquered by the Ottoman Empire the area was restructured into several different regions--the Sanjak Jerusalem, the Wilayat of Beirut, the Sanjak Kerak, the Wilayat of Damascus, the Sanjak Hauran and the Wilayat of Hejas. Although the Land was under Islamic rule there never existed a single independent Arab State in the boundaries of historical Eretz Israel.

Only in the aftermath of the World War I was the term "Palestine" revived by British when they tried to gain the Mandate for the territory. It was intentional that the newly established Palestine encompass the area that historically belonged to the Jewish Tribes, as Britain promised the Jews to reestablish their national home there.

An authority in the history of the region, the Reverend D. Parkes in the book "Whose Land?", written in 1949, long before the term "Palestinians" was introduced by the Arabs in their war against Israel, describes the population of the area as consisting of "Bedouins, Jews, Christians and descendants of Jews and Christians that converted to Islam."

M. Syrkin, a former Professor of English Literature, wrote in "Midstream," in October, 1967: "Palestine did not exist as a political or national entity as far as the Arabs were concerned. For them it was merely a geographical locality, the south of Syria. Whereas no one doubts the fierce authenticity of Arab nationalism, Palestinian Arab nationalism is an artificial creation with no roots before the British Mandate. On May 31, 1956 Ahmed Shukairy, the extremist chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization, declared before the Security Council: "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."

Any people inhabiting a certain territory does not want to give it to someone voluntarily. You can have people of different nationalities, living on an uninhabited island, who will definitely object to sharing their land with anybody who they feel will outnumber them. This is not because the people living on the island constitute a separate national entity but because they want to have their property all for themselves. 5/13/97

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Boris Shusteff is a Russian immigrant and proud member of the Freeman Center.


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