Sarah Palin and Zev Jabotinsky, The Odd Soulmates

Stop laughing and bear with me a moment.

For those not familiar, Zev Jabotinsky  (1880 to 1940) was recognized as the greatest orator of his era who led the fight for Jewish national liberation.

We often read that either you love Palin or you hate her. Similarly, Shmuel Katz, in The Lone Wolf, his biography of Jabotinsky, said of him "he was both the best beloved and the most maligned Jewish leader of his time". Palin who is constantly being maligned, can relate.

The common denominator for both of them is that they both took on the permanent political class, the establishment or the intellectual elite, however you refer to them.  They took the battle of ideas to them in defiance of conventional wisdom or political correctness.  In many ways they were both "lone wolves."  In Palin's case, perhaps a mama grizzly.

In both cases, this political class stood for progressivism, universalism and collectivism.  In opposition, they both stood for individualism, exceptionalism and nationalism.

Palin is a fierce defender of individual ingenuity and free market capitalism.  Jabotinsky once gave a speech called "Individualism and Collectivism". The similarities in their positions are striking.

Sarah Palin keeps reminding Americans of their roots in Judea-Christian values, in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Nationalism or pride of country, for her, are a good thing.

Jabotinsky, in his late teens lived in Italy and became very interested in the great Italian leader Garibaldi who had unified Italy fifty years earlier using his popularity and his skill at rousing the common people to do so. He exemplified nationalism and liberalism.

The Jewish question became front and center in 1905 when Russia lost a war to Japan. The Russian people turned to revolution and the Czar clamped down hard on them particularly on the Jews.  It organized pogroms on various Jewish communities through Russia. Many Jews were raped or killed or both with the approval of the government.

Jabotinsky, a strong proponent of Jewish self-defense was aghast that the Jews cowered as they were slaughtered rather than fight back, except in few instances.  Where was their pride? Where was their manhood?

He took pen in hand and railed against the "pathetic bankruptcy of the Jewish assimalationists and the hypocrisy of the Russian progressives."  In one of his articles "Our Every Day Phenomenon", he denounced "the epidemic of baptism that had spread among Jewish academic youth."  Since Jews were barred from attending universities, they were resorting to baptism so they could attend.

In order to consider the Jewish problem, Jabotinsky studied for eight months, the "nationalities problem."   At this time he became a proponent of aliya, the use of Hebrew in the Jewish schools in Russia and in Zionist conferences and in the creation of a Hebrew university in Palestine so that Jewish youths could get an education.  These ideas came to fruition.  He also supported a federation of minorities in Russia, the Jews being one of them.  He wanted to have Jewish schools teach Jewish history and Jewish pride and to teach it in Hebrew.

The revolutionary atmosphere in Russia spread to The Ottoman Empire where the Sultan was unseated in 1909 and the Young Turks took over. They instituted a policy of Ottomanization.   All minorities had to assimilate in one Ottoman nation and had to learn the Ottoman language.  Thus the idea of Jewish autonomy in the Ottoman Empire had no future.  But WWI changed that.  The British, anticipating defeating Germany and the Ottoman Empire, offered the Jews a state as set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in return for their help in the war.

The rest as they say, is history. 

Both Palin and Jabotinsky were never part of the establishment but had great influence over it. They both still do.

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