It envisaged a liberalized, democratic Russia with wide, autonomous rights for its non-Russian peoples, including the Jewish nation, which, through a comprehensive organizational framework, would exercise its political rights and its cultural, educational, and, in certain respects, even administrative autonomy both in Hebrew and Yiddish.
And more specifically:
The political program included the following:
1. Full democratization of the regime according to the principles of parliamentary democracy, autonomy of the national territories and guaranteed legal rights for all minority peoples.
2. Full and unconditional (civil and national) rights to the Jewish population.
3. Representation of all national minorities in federal, regional and local elections that shall be conducted by secret ballot. The right to vote shall be extended to women.
4. Recognition of the Jewish people in Russia as a single political entity entitled to govern itself in matters of national culture.
5. A national assembly of Russian Jews shall be convened for the purpose of forming the basic structure of a national organization.
6. Jews shall have the right to use the national language (Hebrew) and the spoken language (Yiddish) in the schools, courts and public life.
7. Jews shall have the right to observe the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday. This right shall be guaranteed without regard to geographic location...
Source: Judische Runschau 22 (June 8, 1917) pp. 190-193. Trans. and excerpted by R. Weiss and P. Mendes-Flohr. Quoted in The Jew in the modern world: a documentary history, By Paul R. Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, Oxford Univ Press 1995, pp 423-424.
But he was not blind.
Here is his 1923 political principle which can be called 'Don't Be Stupid':-
If I insist on this point, it is not because I want the Jews, too, to abandon the Helsingfors Programme as the basis of a future modus vivendi. On the contrary we - at least the writer of these lines – believe in this programme as much as we believe in our ability to give effect to it in political life, though all precedents have failed. But it would be useless now to the Arabs. They would not understand, and they would not place any trust in its principles: they would not be able to appreciate them.
And since it is useless, it must also be harmful. It is incredible what political simpletons Jews are. They shut their eyes to one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not "meet halfway" those who do not want to meet you.
By the way, this is from a 1961 article in The Atlantic (kippah tip: EOZ and SoccerDad) describing a visit to several camps for Arab refugees from the former Palestine Mandate and illustrates that even then it was clear that the Arabs were not interested in meeting us half-way, even when Judea and Samaria were not under Israel's administration (but was "occupied" by Jordan):
Sitting in his neat office, with my guide, the principal of the school (a former member of the Palestinian police), and the camp leader, I listened to the first of what became an almost daily Mad Hatter conversation. It went like this:
"The Arab countries invaded Israel in 1948 to save the Palestine Arabs from being massacred by the Jews."
"Were there massacres? Where?"
"Oh, yes, everywhere. Terrible, terrible."
"Then you must have lost many relatives and friends."
This, being a tiresome deduction from a previous statement, is brushed aside without comment.
"Israel overran the truce lines and stole our country. We left from fear. We have a right to our property, which brings in 47 million pounds a year in income. If we had our own money, we would need nothing from UNRWA. Our own money is much more. We do not have to be grateful for the little money spent on us. We should have our own."
"Then, of course, you want to return to your property and to Israel?"
"Not to Israel. Never to Israel. To our own country, to our own part."
"But didn't the Jews accept Partition, while the Palestine Arabs and the Arab governments refused?"
"Yes, yes. And England protected the Jews. An Arab was arrested if he carried a pistol only to defend himself, but Jews could go through the streets in tanks and nothing happened to them. Also, England told the Arab states to attack Israel."
The principal of the school then spoke up. "In our school, we teach the children from their first year about their country and how it was stolen from them. I tell my son of seven. You will see: one day a man of eighty and a child so high, all, all will go home with arms in their hands and take back their country by force."
On this warlike note, we left.
That "warlike note" was played before the PLO was founded in 1964, before the 1967 war when Judea and Samaria passed to Israel's administration. And that situation was obvious to Jabotinsky back in 1923:
There is only one possible morality, that of humanity, and in practice it amounts in our particular instance to this: if besides the Helsingfors Programme we had our pocket full of concessions of every kind, including our willingness to participate in some fantastic Arab Federation od morza do morza (from sea to sea) negotiations with regard to them would still be possible only if the Arabs would first consent to the creation of a Jewish Palestine. Our ancestors knew that very well. And the Talmud quotes a very instructive legal action – which has a direct bearing on this matter. Two people walking along the road find a piece of cloth. One of them says: " I found it. It is mine:" But the other says: " No: that is not true: I found the cloth, and it is mine: " The judge to whom they appeal cuts the cloth in two, and each of these obstinate folk gets half. But there is another version of this action. It is only one of the two claimants who is obstinate: the other, on the contrary, has determined to make the world wonder at this magnanimity. So he says: "We both found the cloth, and therefore I ask only a half of it, because the second belongs to B. But B. insists that he found it, and that he alone is entitled to it.
In this case, the Talmud recommends a wise Judgment, that is, how very disappointing to our magnanimous gentleman. The judge says: "There is agreement about one half of the cloth. A. admits that it belongs to B. So it is only the second half that is in dispute. We shall, therefore divide this into two halves: And the obstinate claimant gets three-quarters of the cloth, while the ”gentleman" has only one quarter, and serve him right. It is a very fine thing to be a gentleman, but it is no reason for being an idiot. Our ancestors knew that. But we have forgotten it. We should bear it in mind. Particularly, since we are very badly situated in this matter of concessions. There is not much that we can concede to Arab nationalism, without destroying Zionism. We cannot abandon the effort to achieve a Jewish majority in Palestine. Nor can we permit any Arab control of our immigration, or join an Arab Federation. We cannot even support Arab movement, it is at present hostile to us and consequently we all, including even the pro-Arab rhetoriomongers, rejoice at every defeat sustained by this movement, not only adjacent Transjordan, and Syria, but even in Morocco. And this state of affairs will continue, because it cannot be otherwise, until one day the iron wall will compel the Arabs to come to an arrangement with Zionism once and for all.
Some 87 years have passed and the wisdom of Jabotinsky is applicable and true and wise.
And for those concerned with "democracy", Jabotinsky had the proper response whihc still retains its vitality and relevance, even today:
All sorts of catchwords are used against Zionism; people invoke Democracy, majority rule national self-determination. Which means, that the Arabs being at present the majority in Palestine, have the right of self-determination, and may therefore insist that Palestine must remain an Arab country. Democracy and self-determination are sacred principles, but sacred principles like the Name of the Lord must not be used in vain – to bolster up a swindle, to conceal injustice. The principle of self-determination does not mean that if someone has seized a stretch of land it must remain in his possession for all time, and that he who was forcibly ejected from his land must always remain homeless. Self-determination means revision – such a revision of the distribution of the earth among the nations that those nations who have too much should have to give up some of it to those nations who have not enough or who have none, so that all should have some place on which to exercise their right of self-determination. And now when the whole of the civilised world has recognised that Jews have a right to return to Palestine, which means that the Jews are, in principle, also "citizens" and "inhabitants" of Palestine, only they were driven out, and their return must be a lengthy process, it is wrong to contend that meanwhile the local population has the right to refuse to allow them to come back and to that "Democracy”. The Democracy of Palestine consists of two national groups, the local group and these who were driven out, and the second group is the larger.
Jabotinsky was not blind, but he sought justice based on a Jewish right that was recognized because it was valid and ture and just as he explained in the companion article to the above one:
There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future. I say this with such conviction, not because I want to hurt the moderate Zionists. I do not believe that they will be hurt. Except for those who were born blind, they realised long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting "Palestine" from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.
My readers have a general idea of the history of colonisation in other countries. I suggest that they consider all the precedents with which they are acquainted, and see whether there is one solitary instance of any colonisation being carried on with the consent of the native population. There is no such precedent.
The native populations, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilised or savage. And it made no difference whatever whether the colonists behaved decently or not. The companions of Cortez and Pizzaro or (as some people will remind us) our own ancestors under Joshua Ben Nun, behaved like brigands; but the Pilgrim Fathers, the first real pioneers of North America, were people of the highest morality, who did not want to do harm to anyone, least of all to the Red Indians, and they honestly believed that there was room enough in the prairies both for the Paleface and the Redskin. Yet the native population fought with the same ferocity against the good colonists as against the bad.
Every native population, civilised or not, regards its lands as its national home, of which it is the sole master, and it wants to retain that mastery always; it will refuse to admit not only new masters but, even new partners or collaborators.
This is equally true of the Arabs. Our Peace-mongers are trying to persuade us that the Arabs are either fools, whom we can deceive by masking our real aims, or that they are corrupt and can be bribed to abandon to us their claim to priority in Palestine, in return for cultural and economic advantages. I repudiate this conception of the Palestinian Arabs. Culturally they are five hundred years behind us, they have neither our endurance nor our determination; but they are just as good psychologists as we are, and their minds have been sharpened like ours by centuries of fine-spun logomachy. We may tell them whatever we like about the innocence of our aims, watering them down and sweetening them with honeyed words to make them
palatable, but they know what we want, as well as we know what they do not want. They feel at least the same instinctive jealous love of Palestine, as the old Aztecs felt for ancient Mexico , and their Sioux for their rolling Prairies.
Jabotinsky further presses his point by referring to an editorial penned before World War I:
This Arab editor was actually willing to agree that Palestine has a very large potential absorptive capacity, meaning that there is room for a great many Jews in the country without displacing a single Arab. There is only one thing the Zionists want, and it is that one thing that the Arabs do not want, for that is the way by which the Jews would gradually become the majority, and then a Jewish Government would follow automatically, and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews; and a minority status is not a good thing, as the Jews themselves are never tired of pointing out. So there is no "misunderstanding".
The Zionists want only one thing, Jewish immigration; and this Jewish immigration is what the Arabs do not want.
This statement of the position by the Arab editor is so logical, so obvious, so indisputable, that everyone ought to know it by heart, and it should be made the basis of all our future discussions on the Arab question.
The themes of the current disputes over Zionism are not new and have been dismissed nine decades ago - and highlighted in the press five decades ago.