Ze’ev Jabotinsky to Benjamin Netanyahu On Hamas

Words of wisdom on the crucial task of protecting the Jewish State.

Zeev_JabotinskyOn Friday, the former Prime Minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, threatened that Hamas would resume the rocket attacks against Israel on September 25th.  Haniyeh noted that Hamas will not demilitarize, nor will they “cooperate with any regional or international decision which would see its arsenal 'against the resistance' harmed.” As he said, "Weapons are the holy light of the sanctity of the struggle and the land issue, and if they want to demilitarize its weapons, we will only agree if the occupier is also demilitarized and its leaves our land." Hamas is clear on their mission to destroy the State of Israel.

Israel, on the other hand, values human life, and takes war very seriously.  The government of Israel made the difficult decision to accept a ceasefire.  Undoubtedly, President Obama pressured Israel, and Kerry and Obama succeeded in stopping Israel from destroying Hamas. Some sort of a fragile “truce” holds and undoubtedly the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, may once again face the difficult decision very soon to strike forcefully.  Netanyahu undoubtedly values human life – and wants peace.

Netanyahu’s late father, Benzion, was known to have had a tremendous influence on his son -- and Benzion was the longtime secretary to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of revisionist Zionism.  Jabotinsky was a proud, strong nationalist whose ideology has influenced the leaders of many nationalist Israelis.

Amongst Jabotinsky’s wise words as he sought to create a fighting Jewish people was the quote, "We shall create, with sweat and blood, a race of men, strong, brave and cruel.”  As Hamas threatens Israel today, what would Jabotinsky think – and what would he urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to do?

At the Third World Conference of Betar, Menachem Begin (at the time the head of Betar Poland), and Jabotinsky had an exchange of words which are interestingly relevant to the very dilemma which Netanyahu faces today as he faces an enemy on his borders – and what to do.

Begin noted:

With what means will we succeed in achieving our aims? We were taught to use moral pressure on the Western powers, and that Britain will honor her commitments to our nation. But in reality, the British only need take the Arab demands into account. The Arabs receive 95% and do not agree. They fight with their blood. And we who receive only 5%, how are we fighting? It is obvious that the disproportion of strength and honor between Israel and the Arabs must force Britain to first of all consider the Arab demands over ours. Zionism is an eternal idea but its realization will be delayed by decades if we continue on this path. We must fight – to die or conquer the mountain! The Israeli national movement began with Practical Zionism. Then there was Political Zionism. And now we must create a new Zionism – Military Zionism. Our examples will be Camillo di Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Cavour would have never achieved victory for Italy without Garibaldi.

Jabotinsky retorted:

Permit me to say a few strong words. As your teacher it is my duty. There are many types of noises in this world. There is the whistle and the noise of heavy machines. But I cannot bear the squeak of an un-oiled door because that noise serves no purpose. You are implying that there is no conscience left in the world and there is no room for such useless chattering in Betar. It is pure despair. With a broom we must sweep away these futile ideas.

One wonders: Is there any conscious in the world, when a terrorist organization is supported by countless nations?  No one in Israel wants war – but an enemy devoted to destroying the Jewish people must be countered. It is a reality which faces the State of Israel every single day.

Similarly, Netanyahu must recall the words of Jabotinsky in the legendary essay “Ethics of the Iron Wall”:

Human society is based on reciprocity. If you remove reciprocity, justice becomes a lie. A person walking somewhere on a street has the right to live only because and only to the extent that he acknowledges my right to live. But, if he wishes to kill me, to my mind he forfeits his right to exist – and this also applies to nations. Otherwise, the world would become a racing area for vicious predators, where not only the weakest would be devoured, but the best.

There is no easy way.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in 1929: “The Jewish people – all of us, 100 percent want peace.” Yet, he realized the importance of strength.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has no easy decisions – yet knows that he must protect the only Jewish State in the world.

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