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Jabotinsky, Vladimir (Ze'ev) (1880–1940) and revisionist Zionism

Lawrence Davidson


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Vladimir Jabotinsky was born in Odessa, Russia, on October 18, 1880 into a middle-class family with an intellectual and internationalist outlook. He had a secular education and, while still in high school, developed an interest in journalism. Following graduation he got a job as the European correspondent for several Russian newspapers and traveled in that capacity to Bern in Switzerland and Rome in Italy. While in Rome he also took up the study of law. Jabotinsky was pushed toward the ideology of Zionism , as well as the need for organized self-defense throughout the diaspora, by the 1903 pogrom against the Jews of Kishinev in Russia. He took it upon himself to organize armed self-defense units in the Jewish communities of Russia, while encouraging as many Jews as possible to immigrate to Palestine. It was also at this time that he taught himself modern Hebrew and took on the Hebrew name of Ze'ev (wolf). When World War I broke out, and the Ottoman empire joined the struggle on the side of the Central Powers, Jabotinsky sensed that this was a historical moment that might lead to a Jewish Palestine. Thus, he urged the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to ally with the British empire and form a Jewish Legion to fight alongside the British forces moving into Palestine. He was somewhat successful, as the British did eventually create a small number of Jewish units. Jabotinsky enlisted ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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