Ze'ev Jabotinsky

Zionist leader and founder of the Zionist Revisionist movement.

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In 1925, the establishment of the World Union of Zionist Revisionists was announced, with Paris as headquarters for the movement. Jabotinsky spent the next years actively lecturing and collaborating on dozens of publications to further the cause worldwide. He lived in Jerusalem between 1927 and 1929. In 1930, while on a speaking engagement abroad, the British administration barred his return to Palestine by canceling his return visa. Unable to return home, from that point until his death a decade later, Jabotinsky fought for the Zionist cause around the world. In 1931 Jabotinsky demanded that the Seventeenth Zionist Congress make a clear announcement of Zionist aims--a Jewish state--but the delegates refused to do so.

Seriously alarmed by Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Jabotinsky pressed in 1933 for a worldwide Jewish boycott of Germany, hoping to crush Germany economically, but Jewish and Zionist leaders declined to cooperate. In 1934, an agreement was signed between Jabotinsky and David Ben-Gurion, then Labor Zionist leader, general secretary of the powerful Federation of Labor and undisputed spokesman for mainstream Zionism in Palestine. The agreement was aimed at easing the growing conflicts between the groups; cooperation, however, was stymied when the Federation of Labor failed to ratify the agreement. Revisionists and Laborites were to remain bitter political adversaries for decades to come.

In 1935, the Revisionists withdrew from the Zionist Organization in protest over the organization's refusal to state clearly and unequivocally its final goal of statehood. Revisionists also claimed that the Zionist establishment was too passive, failing to challenge British restrictions on the pace of development of the Jewish National Home and thwarting attempts by Jews to flee Europe to the safety of Palestine. Jabotinsky focused his efforts on assisting Jews to reach Palestine by all means--legal or illegal. Sensing that Jews of Eastern Europe were in great danger, he called, in 1936, for an "evacuation" of Eastern European Jews to Palestine to solve the Jewish problem.

Land of Israel

Outspoken and candid, Jabotinsky appeared before the Palestine Royal Commission in 1937 declaring that the "demand for a Jewish majority is not our maximum--it is our minimum. Stressing there would soon be 3-4 million European Jews seeking a safe haven in Palestine, he compared "Arab claims to Jewish demands" as akin to "the claims of appetite versus the claims of starvation." He and his followers argued that all territory in the original 1920 British Mandate over Palestine--encompassing all of the Land of Israel on both banks of the Jordan River--should be part of the Jewish homeland.

When the Peel Commission recommended the partition of the remainder of Mandated Palestine into two states, Jabotinsky opposed the plan. While Zionist leadership reluctantly accepted it, feeling that a truncated state was better than no state, the Arabs rejected it.

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