Jewish Studies Ze’ev Jabotinsky
by
Svetlana Natkovich
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 April 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0166

Introduction

Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky (b. 1880, Odessa–d. 1940, Hunter, NY) is one of the most influential, enigmatic, and controversial figures in the history of Zionism. A journalist, cultural critic, translator, novelist, poet, and politician, his accomplishments in every one of these fields would suffice for a distinguished career on its own. He started his career as a nonconformist journalist and aspiring Russian-language poet and playwright in a cosmopolitan fin-de-siècle Odessa, but in the course of 1902–1903 he became drawn to the Zionist movement, gradually rising to a position of one of the promising leaders of Russian Zionism. During the World War I, while working as a war correspondent of central Russian newspaper, he was among the initiators and organizers of Jewish military regiments (Legion) in the British army, and as an officer of the regiment participated in the British conquest of Palestine. In the early 1920s he was among the members of the executive committee of the World Zionist Organization, but his disagreement with Haim Weizmann’s position of compromise regarding the formulation of British policy in Palestine brought about his vocal resignation in 1923. After his resignation, a group of admirers and supporters started consolidating around him, which led to the foundation of the oppositional Revisionist Zionist Movement in the 1925. Among the core policies of the movement were the valorization of capitalist private initiative, the embrace of unapologetic nationalism, and the adoption of a more offensive political position in foreign affairs. During the 1930s, together with the growth of polarization inside Zionist politics, Jabotinsky and his movement became more and more alienated from the Zionist establishment, which led eventually to its resignation from the World Zionist Organization and the foundation of another group, the New Zionist Organization, with Jabotinsky in its head in 1935. Parallel to his political activity, Jabotinsky continued writing and publishing new stories, novels, and essays, mainly in Russian but also in English and Yiddish. Jabotinsky’s presence in the political and intellectual discourse of the Zionist movement from the beginning of the 20th century to our times, as well as his identification with one of the dominant political parties in Israel, has made his ideological and artistic legacy, as observed by his adherents, a defining factor in the reality of the country. However, precisely because of Jabotinsky’s venerated status as a leader, in many cases his figure and actions, along with his literary legacy, are perceived through the lenses of ideological struggles. This has resulted in an extremely heterogeneous body of research on Jabotinsky, when in different works diametrically opposite views on Jabotinsky’s figure and work are articulated—from his perception as a classical liberal to his framing in the context of the radical antimaterialist and even protofascist right.

Jabotinsky’s Collected Writings

Jabotinsky himself was extremely aware of his public image and the way his legacy is formed and remembered. The first collection of his feuilletons was published in Russian in 1913, when he was thirty-three years old. He continued to edit and supervise the republications of his selected writings in Russian in 1922 and 1930, in English in 1925, and in Hebrew in 1936. In these editions he recategorized some works from fiction to essay and vice versa, and massively edited the selected works to adopt them to the zeitgeist and his updated political positions. Here I mention only the posthumous collections of his works. Unfortunately there is not yet a full collection of Jabotinsky’s writings. Moreover, the majority of the existing collections are organized by the thematic principle, which allows the editors to create the illusion of coherency in Jabotinsky’s worldview that could not have persisted if the works were read in their historical context. Jabotinsky’s main language as an author was Russian but over the course of the years he wrote in Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, French, English, Polish, and other languages; thus each edition of his writings demands the knowledge of these multiple languages and the use of translations. Many of his articles were written under different pseudonyms and are still unknown to scholars. There is an ongoing controversy regarding the attribution of several articles to Jabotinsky in Jabotinsky 2008–2012, the Russian edition of his works. Many of original editions of Jabotinsky’s articles and the majority of his letters are scanned and accessible online at the website of the Jabotinsky Institute. Not included in this list are collections of his writings in German, Yiddish, Spanish, and Italian (for a full bibliography see Graor 2007, cited under Bibliography and Memoirs).

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev. From the Pen of Jabotinsky: Being a Selection from the Written Works of Vladimir Jabotinsky. Edited by I. Benari. Cape Town: Betar, 1941.

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    The first posthumous collection of Jabotinsky’s writings edited by his admirer and fellow activist within the Revisionist movement, Yehuda Benari. The eclectic choice of articles in the collection aims to position Jabotinsky as a successor of Theodor Herzl, a legendary political leader and thinker, promoting his truth despite the petty attacks of his lowbrow opponents.

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (ז’בוטינסקי, זאב). Ketavim (כתבים). 18 vols. Edited by Eri Jabotinsky (ערי ז’בוטינסקי. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Hotza’at Eri Jabotinsky, 1947–1959.

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    The fullest collection of Jabotinsky’s writings to date, published under the editorship of his son Eri Jabotinsky between 1947 and 1959. Each of its eighteen volumes has its own thematic title and combines works from different years. The collection comprises many different translations to Jabotinsky’s work, without mentioning in most cases the name of the translator. The quality of the translations varies from superb to stylistically flowed and imprecise.

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (ז’בוטינסקי, זאב). Ekronot manhim le-ba’aiot ha-sha’a (עקרונות מנחים לבעיות השעה). Edited by Yosef Nedava (יוסף נדבה). Tel Aviv: Hotza’at Makhon Jabotinsky, 1981.

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    Collection of articles from different years edited and partly translated by Yosef Nedava. The selected articles try to present Jabotinsky’s positions on topics of social order, Zionist political and cultural orientation, conflict between Jews and Arabs, intra-communal relationships of the Jews, religion, Hebrew language, and more. Some of the articles were already published in Eri Jabotinsky’s collection (Jabotinsky 1947–1959), but some appear here in the first time.

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (ז’בוטינסקי, זאב). Kovetz ma’amarim be-razsviet (1923–1934) (קובץ מאמרים ברזסוויט 1934–1923). 4 vols. Edited by Yosef Nedava (יוסף נדבה). Tel Aviv: Hotza’at Makhon Jabotinsky, 1984–1986.

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    Collection of articles on Revisionist and Zionist politics published in the Revisionist Russian-language journal Razsviet (Dawn). Each of the four volumes appears under its own title. The articles are arranged chronologically (1923–1924; 1925–1929; 1930–1931; 1932–1934), and allow pinpointing the evolution of Jabotinsky’s perceptions at the decisive stages of his political career.

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (ז’בוטינסקי, זאב). Igrot (אגרות). 14 vols. Edited by Daniel Karpi and Moshe Halevi (דניאל קרפי ומשה הלוי). Tel Aviv: Hotza’at Makhon Jabotinsky, 1992–2017.

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    A superb and thoroughly annotated collection of Jabotinsky’s letters; covers the majority of known Jabotinsky’s epistolary legacy. All letters are scanned at the website of Jabotinsky Institute and available in their original format as well as in their Hebrew translation.

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev. The Political and Social Philosophy of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Translated by Shimshon Feder. Edited by Mordechai Sarig. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1999.

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    A collection of short excerpts from Jabotinsky’s writings over the years in various genres and languages, organized by a thematic principle: his views on Zionism, Hebrew language, militarism, resistance, the individual and the regime, society and economics, and more. The collection aims to create an image of Jabotinsky as a consistent liberal leader.

  • Jabotinsky, Vladimir. The Five. Translated by Michael Katz. Introduction by Michael Stanislawski. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005.

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    The first English translation of Jabotinsky’s autobiographical novel The Five, informatively annotated and accompanied by short but illuminating introduction by Michael Stanislawski.

  • Jabotinsky, Vladimir (Жаботинский, Владимир). Sobranie Socinenii v Deviati Tomakh (Собрание Сочинений в Девяти Томах). Edited by Felix Dektor (Феликс Дектор). Minsk, Belarus: Met, 2008–2012.

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    The most comprehensive attempt to present a full and chronologically organized collection of Jabotinsky’s literary and journalistic writings. This is an ongoing project: so far, the volume of his belles-lettres and four volumes of his articles up until 1904 have been published. Each volume is furnished with a rich academic apparatus. The attempt to attribute to Jabotinsky various articles written under different pseudonyms in the third volume of the edition (2010) evoked a controversy (Frenkel 2012, cited under Biographies).

  • Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (ז’בוטינסקי, זאב). Ketavim Ideologiim (כתבים אידאולוגיים). Edited by Arie Naor (אריה נאור). Tel Aviv: Hotza’at Makhon Jabotinsky, 2013–.

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    Most recent collection of Jabotinsky’s writings edited by one of the central champions of the “liberal” hypothesis, Arie Naor. Each thematic volume of this project, not all of which have been published yet, intends to shed light on another aspect of Jabotinsky’s thought (liberal nationalism, the land of Israel, and more). The majority of the articles are appearing for the first time in Hebrew translation. The volumes are accompanied with introductory articles by Naor and detailed and learned annotations.

  • Jabotinsky, Vladimir. The Story of My Life. Edited by Brian Horowitz and Leonid Katsis. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2016.

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    The first English translation of Jabotinsky’s autobiography, based on an anonymous translation found in Jabotinsky’s archive. The book is furnished with detailed and learned annotations and an exhaustive introduction discussing the history of the text and its place in Jabotinsky’s construction of his self and his public image.

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