Fight Hatred

Monday, Jul 28th

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Remembering Ze’ev Jabotinsky and His Words on the Fight against Hatred

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Different strategies have been utilized over the years to fight hatred against Jews. The classical solution for Jewish communities threatened by pogroms was to appeal to the local Prince for protection. Other strategies involved hiding from those out to harm you, paying the attackers to leave you alone, being servile, and escaping to other countries. From about the 18th century, some Jews attempted to assimilate into the life of their countries by rejecting the special characteristics that set them aside as Jews.

Jabotinsky rejected all these strategies. He had two main approaches for fighting the hatred faced by Jews. First, be strong – Jews are easy targets because they don’t fight back. Second, strengthen the inner presence of Jews through “Hadar”: a Hebrew word meaning outward appearance, dignity, courtesy and faithfulness, compelling even an enemy to recognize that this is a nation deserving of respect.

Jabotinsky wanted to create a new type of Jew, someone who was not a passive victim but who was ready to fight in self-defense – and for his homeland.

In Ze'ev Jabotinsky’s own words

1. Be Strong and Fight back

The Jews are dispersed in small groups dotted here and there, engulfed by masses of non-Jews. These have a hostile attitude and express it forcibly; their hostility finds expression in some charge or other, whether it is clearly expressed or kept under the surface, whether it is justified or not. They are in a stronger position and they emphasize this by repressive measures. The Jews suffer in silence but adamantly hold their ground, denying these charges for the hostility does not decrease, only taking on another guise.

From: The Jewish War Front, written and published in 1940 about the anti- Semitism of Nazi Germany.

Hatred is the piquant sauce which accelerates both the swallowing and the digestion of ideas and policies. And the 'sauce' can be fully effective only if the object of hatred is close at hand, familiar to all, and easily and safely attacked."

The Jew "is everywhere in reach; he can be pointed out at any street corner; and he can be insulted or assaulted with only the minimum of risk, or with none at all. To foster a movement of the Nazi type without the daily use of Jewish targets would be like staging a pageant without rehearsals."

From: What are we to do?, published 1905

"I would like to point out one permanent assignment that is entrusted to each of us, old and young, men and women, educated and ignorant, as a group and as individuals; this assignment is the defense of our people's honor.

All too easily we allow this honor to be impinged. So far have we become used to humiliation, that in a simple curse we no longer find insult, and just say to ourselves: 'thank you for only swearing at us – after all you could also have beaten us!' Everywhere, even in public places, our ears pick up vulgar outbursts against our people, and we pretend that we did not hear them, and console ourselves that 'they did not mean us'.

This is a lie: It is always aimed at us, and we must respond. We must end this abuse of ourselves, at all costs. And it is very easy. They spit in our faces without fear, 'in passing', for no reason – not because our insulters are blessed with courage and want to pick a fight with us, but because this pleasure is so cheap for them: they will spit at us and go on their way, and nothing will happen.

We must accustom them to the thought that from now on this pleasure will come at a hefty cost. A new commandment must enter our hearts: that even where there is only one Jew, the word 'Zhid' must not be heard without response. Wise people will come and try to dissuade us: 'You are weak – what can you do?' But it is not our purpose to win in every single incident. Our objective – to create about us the belief that a slur on our national feelings is no longer what it once was, a small diversion free of cost – but will rather, with an absolute certainty and a mathematical precision, result in a sharp and unpleasant confrontation

It is the hour to prove what we truly are: A proud people, or filthy scum whose only calling is to be trodden upon."

[Indeed, Ze'ev Jabotinsky lived this principle, after he was discharged from the British Army in September 1919, he openly trained Jews in self-defense and the use of small arms.]

2. Hadar

During two thousand years of exile, the Jewish nation lost the habit of concentrating its willpower on an all important task, lost the habit of acting in unison as a people, lost the ability to defend itself, armed in case of emergency, instead, the Jews became accustomed to shouts rather than deeds, to disorder and disorganization, to negligence, both in social and personal life.

What do we really envisage by the expression 'a real Jew'…? Is he really the type of Jew with whom we are familiar today? As we are only too well aware, he is not. For the modern Jew has been powerfully affected by long exposure to the influences of foreigners among whom he has been living for generations. We are seeking to find that Jew who reflects the distinctiveness which we wished to keep pure and unadulterated. The essence of the national distinctiveness which we instinctively envisage whenever we utter the word 'Jew', with pride and not with shame, was not created in exile but before the exile, that is in the Land of Israel.

And when we examined the primary will of the Jewish nation without a country, we discovered that its prime motive has always been the guarding of that Jewish national distinctiveness which is nothing else but that pure Israeli essence, and thus we reach the conclusion that the only way of the Jewish national Movement is, if it is to be a genuine Movement of the people, one which guarantees the maintenance of this Israeli distinctiveness. And because we cannot conceive of any development of this Israeli distinctiveness outside the borders of the land of Israel, the direction of the people's Movement must lead to the land of Israel.