...Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times that Netanyahu was “raised in the Jabotinsky strain of Zionism by a father who viewed Arabs as ‘semi-barbaric.’ ” Andrew Sullivan, in his review of Peter Beinart’s book The Crisis of Zionism, argued that Netanyahu’s policy in Gaza and the West Bank, seen in light of Jabotinsky’s influence, “makes more sense … it’s a conscious relentless assault on the lives of Palestinians to immiserate them to such an extent that they flee.”
And he deals with three of the main points brought to mischaracterize Jabotinsky:
a glance at Jabotinsky’s writings suggests that the Zionist pioneer was not the warmongering bigot that these pundits make him out to be. Consider the three main charges commonly brought against him:And he makes the following observations:
1. Jabotinsky was a racist;
2. Jabotinsky’s racism toward Arabs informed his maximalist demand for a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River;
3. Jabotinsky called for never-ending war against Palestinian Arabs until they succumbed.
Jabotinsky was a classical 19th-century liberal who championed full civic equality. Although he would later flirt with the idea of voluntary transfer of Arabs out of Palestine [a proposal made in 1944 by the...British Labour Party!!!], he firmly opposed their mandatory expulsion—
It’s true that Jabotinsky did not hold Arab culture in high regard. In the “Iron Wall,” for example, he wrote that “culturally, [Palestinian Arabs] are 500 years behind us.” But in many ways, Jabotinsky openly respected Arab aspirations far more than most Labor Zionists under Ben-Gurion...
...It was Jabotinsky’s obsession with sheltering millions of European Jews, not some anti-Arab bigotry, that drove his territorial claims. [not quite. what "drove" him was the coming catastrophe, yes, but that situation only made the fundamental demand for all of Eretz-Yisrael more urgent, not more correct and just] Even as he expressed “the profoundest feeling for the Arab case,” Jabotinsky argued that it simply could not compare to the Jewish need for refuge...
...In referring to Jews “crushing” and “immiserating” Palestinian Arabs with military might until they break, writers like Peter Beinart and Andrew Sullivan are offering a shallow interpretation of Jabotinsky’s iron wall. Jabotinsky first proposed the iron wall in 1923 less as a literal buffer than a demonstration of strength meant to convince the Arabs that the Jews were there to stay...any true peace would need to wait for the necessary psychological shift. The iron wall was not meant to be an excuse for ruthless force, but a display of resolution and permanence that would eventually lead to reconciliation...As eager as Jabotinsky was to establish Jewish sovereignty, he was just as eager to make peace with the Arabs once they recognized the inevitability of the Jewish state...
...Of course, you wouldn’t know any of this from recent critics, who, by reading history backwards from the present, have demonized and simplified Jabotinsky’s legacy to attack their current political foe, Netanyahu. But if Jabotinsky really is central to Bibi’s thinking, then perhaps those critics are as wrong about the present as they are about the past.
Previous references of mine to Jabotinsky and the Arabs on this subject