One hundred years ago, at the port city of Odessa, a son was born in the house of Jabotinsky. Today, as we gather to memorialize and rejoice marking the 100th anniversary of his birth, we must say his life and work had changed the history of the Jewish people.
From his youth and up until his passing, Ze’ev Jabotinsky devoted his life to the salvation of our people, to free its land, Eretz Yisrael, to renew its Jewish forces, to educate a generation of warriors, to preach for social justice and its implementation, to create a sense of pride in every Jew for being born as such, and above all – to renew Zionism and fight the continuous battle for the establishment of an independent Jewish state.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a man of many talents in various fields, but his efforts and thoughts were concentrated on achieving his goal of educating the new Jewish character: The quiet, proud, devoted, faithful one who loves his people and is willing to make any sacrifice for their salvation, national freedom and honor. In both of these fields he accomplished complete success and his victory was fully comprised of his aspirations. Indeed, he acknowledged the heroic fighters, and he was the one to provide them and the people as well with the flag raised by Herzl, the flag of renewed Jewish nationalism.
There are few who claim that Jabotinsky was a tragic figure, for he dreamed, made sacrifices and suffered greatly, but yet he did not live to see his work come to fruition, for he had collapsed while working to achieve his goal and his life ended while on foreign land. These statements are far from reality. It is true – as many others in history – that Jabotinsky’s victory was achieved after his passing. However, he was a winning figure; his goal was accomplished, a generation of fighters had come to life and the State of Israel was renewed from the pit of decay and dust. A Jewish force had come to life – a kind not seen since the times of the Maccabbes.
Few are the men in history that have such powerful, clear triumphs. For us, Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a tutor, the carrier of hopes. Our souls were bound. We never, G-d forbid, anticipated his death and I can therefore say, 40 years after his passing, that he continues to live in our hearts. Throughout troubling times of rebellion and revival, we continue to stop and ponder: Under these conditions, what would have Ze’ev Jabotinsky do, how would he conduct himself and what would have been his decision.
But it is not only for us, for the Jewish people in our land and in the Diaspora, that this day marking the 100th anniversary of his birth is a day of high spirits and a renewal of faith. It is a day to pledge that we continue to follow in his footsteps and to work toward accomplishing his social and political beliefs until our final living days. Indeed – Ze’ev Jabotinsky is among us, he is eternal!
Compiled by Ronn Torossian, a former President of Betar, the movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky.