Revisionist Zionism: Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s journey


Lately it seems all anyone can talk about is… Zionism. But what even is Zionism? Jump into the world of Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, exploring his unique and somewhat paradoxical vision of Zionism and a Jewish homeland: a delicate balance of strength and diplomacy. In this episode, Yael and Schwab explore Jabotinsky’s divergence from “mainstream” Zionism, his advocacy for territorial maximalism, and his enduring impact on Israel today.

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Schwab: Welcome to Jewish History Nerds, where we do exactly what it sounds like. Nerd out on awesome stories in Jewish history.

Yael: I’m Yael Steiner and my childhood dream was to stay in school forever.

Schwab: I’m Jonathan Schwab and I am in school forever. Yael, what awesome story do we have to discuss today?

Yael: So I feel a little inadequate today after your phenomenal presentation last week about ghosts and spirits and highly unusual and unheard of Jewish stories. And today we’re gonna talk about someone who you’ve probably heard of and many of our listeners have probably heard of, but I’m hoping to present him from a different angle. This is Vladimir Zaev Jabotinsky.

Zeev Jabotinsky, 1940 (Photo: Jewish National Fund/Wikipedia Commons)

Schwab: I always forget which one is in parentheses. is it Ze’ev and the Vladimir is in parentheses or it’s Vladimir and Ze’ev is in parentheses?

Yael: So he’s born Vladimir in 1880 in Odessa, and later on in his life, when he becomes a prominent Zionist and he takes on his mantle of Jewish defender, he takes the name Ze’ev, which translates to wolf. It also happens to jive nicely with the name Vladimir in terms of like secular Hebrew name pairings, but I think it is he mostly chooses to take it on as his identity as a wolf for the Jewish people in terms of ferocity and protectiveness. So you have heard of him.

Schwab: Yeah, I’ve heard of him. My main strong association with him is that there’s a Jabotinsky Street in Jerusalem in the area where, you know, all the early Zionists and all the important dates are celebrated by street names.  If you said to me, Jabotinsky, I would probably think about the street before the person.

Yael: So that’s fair. There are over 100 streets in Israel named after him. He died in 1940, which is eight years before the state of Israel was established. But his work definitely reverberated well after his death. And a lot of what he did was very interesting, agitated for, likely spurred on those who were ultimately able to found the state of Israel. Before we talk about his Zionist bona fides or bona fides, I feel like that’s what scholarly people would say, but I’m going to say bona fides.

Schwab: It’s a good way to show your own bona fides is to pronounce it bona fides.

Yael: Okay, mister, I have a doctorate. I want to talk about Jabotinsky as an intellectual and also a little bit about his early life before we get into revisionist Zionism, which was the breakaway from more traditional, I think they call it practical Zionism, that we associate more with Herzl and Ben Gurion and the origins of the modern Zionist movement in the late 19th century in Europe.

Schwab: Mm-hmm.

Yael: So Vladimir Jabotinsky.

Schwab: And is it zjah, and not really a English J?

Yael: It is a zjah sound. As our dear mentor Professor Henry Abramson said, it is a zjah like Jacque and not like Jack. And that actually speaks to the fact that he was very Russified. Odessa, more so than any other city in Ukraine, really absorbed Russian culture. It was a relatively new city. It was founded in the 18th century as an elaborate resort city on the Black Sea. I have been to Odessa, and the architecture there is fairly ornate. It definitely has Russian vibes, and it has a beautiful seascape, and you can understand why intellectuals in particular would wanna settle there. 

Schwab: And there was a large Jewish community specifically, in Odessa, and it was an intellectual Jewish center of some sort?

Yael: There definitely were a lot of Jews in Odessa. I believe at some point prior to World War II, up to one third of the population of Odessa was Jewish. So that is a fairly large percentage. And as you mentioned, the intellectual community, Jabotinsky certainly as an adult, I can’t speak to what he dressed as a child, though we do have some photos of him as a child with his mother. He definitely looks the part. He wears those round wire-rimmed glasses that make him look like he would just fit in a salon in the afternoon with Zamenhof and all the other Jewish intelligentsia of the day. He definitely dressed that way. And as we’ll see later, dress and presentation was very, very important to him.

Schwab: Interesting, I’m fascinated to hear about how that dovetails with naming yourself the name of a wolf and being known for ferocity and how that goes along with dressing like an intellectual.

Yael: So it’s interesting that you say that. It’s interesting that you say that because I find him to be a man of profound contradictions. He stands very much for Jewish self-defense after the Kishinev pogrom in what is now Moldova in 1903, which was a really horrible, tragic pogrom in which 50 Jews were killed. Over a hundred were really severely maimed and injured, 500 slightly injured, 1500 homes destroyed. He changes from the foppish journalist writer that he was and he was really a fantastic writer and I’ll go back to that in a second. That’s when he takes on the mantle of the wolf, but he doesn’t shed his initial persona.

After the pogrom in Kishinev, he founds a Jewish self-defense program in Odessa and training people in self-defense and arming themselves is a huge part of his program for Zionism and for Jewish safety in the world. But he also is fairly concerned with the Jew presenting himself as a mensch. He’s very concerned with this notion of hadar, which really means to beautify. And he wants the Jew to have manners, to be a man of the world, to fit in among the Gentiles, to take care of his personal hygiene.

Schwab: Hmm. But also throw a punch? Those seem, I don’t know. It’s a high bar and a somewhat kind of dissonant message.

Yael: Correct. It is a high bar, and it’s only a dissonant message if you think that the two things are incompatible. I don’t think he thinks you need to be fancy, but he thinks that you need to be proper. He advises people in his writings about not putting their elbows on the table, not chewing with their mouths open. It’s kind of like the Emily Post of Odessa. And I don’t necessarily think that’s inconsistent with being strong and being armed and being able to take care of yourself.

Schwab: Yeah, are they connected? Is it, we’re going to deter antisemitism in the world by presenting ourselves in a proper way? And if that doesn’t work, then we can always fight back? Or is it, you know, we can fight back and just a good thing to do is be presentable?

Yael: So it’s interesting that you say that because later on in his life, he presents a plan to save 1.5 million Jews of Eastern Europe in the 1930s. And it’s interesting because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the 40s, but he comes very, very close to predicting the Holocaust, which is scary.

Schwab: Wow.

Yael: The word he uses is catastrophe and he sees a catastrophe coming for Eastern European Jewry and he proposes a plan to the British government that would bring 1.5 million Eastern European Jews to Palestine over the course of 10 years. It is ultimately rejected and doesn’t go anywhere. But part of the reason that he proposes it is not only to settle in Palestine, but also because he thinks that if the population of Jews in Eastern Europe is lower, the non-Jewish population would have less of a motivation to persecute those who remain.

Schwab: Because the fact that there were so many of them was the reason for the persecution.

Yael: Maybe it’s because they were eating with their elbows on the table. I’m not sure what his thought was. But I do want to talk a little bit about his vision of Zionism, how it differed from the Ben Gurion version of Zionism that we often think about when we think about the founding of the state and what that meant for the Jewish people going forward, what it means for us today at a very challenging point in the state of Israel’s history.

Schwab: But yeah, the question of how Jews present themselves and to what extent they should be prepared to defend themselves, it’s unfortunately always a timely question. It’s an incredibly timely question now.

Yael: Right, we’re really at the nexus of defense and public relations right now. On the one hand, taking care of ourselves and taking care of our safety. On the other hand, having to be wary of what the world thinks about Israel’s actions so as to maintain a presence on the world stage and to maintain our legitimacy.

Schwab: Mm-hmm.

Yael: And I don’t mean to say that other people’s perceptions can undermine our legitimacy, but in terms of our membership in the United Nations and the way that we interact with our allies, because in the modern geopolitical world, the nation state is the most important thing. And having a nation state that interacts with other nation states is what gives you any sort of political power and as Jabotinsky was very well aware, political power is what you need in order to defend yourself.

Schwab: Mm-hmm.

Yael: So he becomes more of an active Zionist after the Kishinev pogrom in 1903. Before that, he really spent most of his time working as a journalist. He had dropped out of university one year prior to graduation to travel around Western Europe, spent a lot of time in Italy, spoke apparently a bunch of different Italian dialects, and sounds like he generally had a good time traveling around, being a young, smart, vivacious individual. The pogrom though does affect him, and that is when he founds the Self-Defense Institute in Odessa, and he had become a little known for some of his speeches about Jewish defense and the need for a homeland.

Schwab: Mm-hmm.

Yael: And he is invited to the sixth Zionist conference in 1906 in Basel. He met Herzl, but didn’t have many interactions with him. He says later on in some writings that the only thing Herzl ever said to him was that one of Jabotinsky’s speeches was too long and that he needed to wrap it up.

Schwab: And he took that personally.

Yael: You know, he was a very resilient person. Not resilient enough to stay within the mainstream Zionist movement and sort of work within its parameters. He did break away and found his own organization, which was called the World Union of Revisionist Zionists. And this was founded in the 20s.

Schwab: It’s the world union of revisionist Zionists. It’s not concentrated in one area. It’s a global movement.

Yael: Well, you have to be expansive here because he is operating in Europe and he’s trying to impact something that’s happening in the Middle East. So you don’t wanna narrow your parameters. This is in the aftermath of World War I. As a side point during World War I, he had worked with the British to create Jewish battalions that fought in World War I. And as a result of the creation of these Jewish battalions, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. And about one year after he was awarded the Order of the British Empire, he is involved in the 1920 riots in Palestine, which…

Schwab: Oh, okay.

Yael: You know, caused a lot of death and destruction and was a riot that blew up between Arab and Jewish communities. And he ended up in jail in Palestine. He was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in a British jail. Yes, it was all, at that time it was all British. And he was ultimately let out much earlier than the 15 year sentence. I think he was let out after 3 years, but he wasn’t exactly the British, I don’t even know what you want to call it, the commissioner’s favorite person. 

Schwab: Mm-hmm. They bestowed upon him the disorder of the British Empire for that.

Yael: Yes, exactly.

Schwab: And I’m guessing, like most people, his three years in jail doesn’t make him less radical.

Yael: It doesn’t. And in 1923, that’s when he founds the Alliance of Revisionist Zionists. And that is ultimately what becomes the World Union.

The reason why he splits with Ben Gurion and Weizmann is because they come from very different worldviews. Having grown up in Odessa, Jabotinsky was used to interactions with other worldly people, particularly people who weren’t Jewish. The founders of this more practical Zionism, or traditional Zionism, were shtetl Jews. And they were, you know, city mice and country mice, and they really did not find a way to work together. Ultimately, many, many years later, Jabotinsky dies in 1940. He actually dies in New York. And he had put into his will that he would like his body to be repatriated, if he dies abroad, to the state of Israel, which he didn’t know existed at the time, so I guess he would have called it the Yishuv or Eretz Yisrael. And Ben Gurion hated Jabotinsky so much that it was not until 1963 when Ben Gurion was no longer prime minister that the state of Israel allowed his body to be returned. Ben Gurion had 15 years in the premiership where he said, absolutely not. Why do, he said, why do we need the bones of this person in the land? And then when they do bring his body back, he is given a state funeral and all of the big dignitaries attend except for Ben Gurion who stays in Sde Boker in the South and really could not give a hoot about the return of Jabotinsky’s body.

Schwab: Yeah, I feel like that really paints a picture of the animosity between them.

Yael: Well, just think about, and I am not one to judge a book by its cover, but if you think about the way the two of them presented themselves, you have Jabotinsky with the round wire-rimmed glasses and a member of the intelligentsia, and you have Ben Gurion with the fabulous hairdo and the khaki shorts and the khaki shirt.

Schwab: Yeah, Jabotinsky would have told him, get a haircut.

Yael: Exactly. And was much more agrarian. He founded the Kibbutz Sde Boker, and he was looking to cultivate the land from an agricultural perspective. Jabotinsky’s ideal of a state of Israel was

Schwab: Getting your elbows off the table.

Yael: No, it actually was. It was sitting in, you know, people sitting in cafes, coexisting, tolerant of one another. One thing that I just want to point out as the present-day Likud party, many of the people in its leadership say that they are descended from Jabotinsky’s revisionist Zionism. Jabotinsky wrote very expressly that his vision of the state of Israel did not involve the removal of any Arab or other, or person of other ethnicity from their homes, and that they would live in the state of Israel as equal citizens. And that not only that, but that if a Jew was serving as prime minister there should be an Arab in a vice-premiership simultaneously. So not exactly the current platform of the Likud party.

Schwab: Hmm, wow. Yeah, interesting. That does seem very different than, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And I feel like you’re saying, that’s rooted in his upbringing and childhood in Odessa, in a city where Jews were a significant part of the population, right, but are very integrated with a larger society. And he’s imagining the modern state of Israel as an incarnation of that, where people can sit in cafes and respect each other, and everyone can work together.

Yael: That is exactly right. In fact, Chaim Weizmann, who was the first president of the state of Israel and who was a part of that more traditional socialist labor Zionism, Chaim Weizmann said that Jabotinsky was the only Jew he knew who wasn’t scared of Gentiles. And that was a huge response to the way he grew up in Odessa.

One thing I do want to mention, now that I’m thinking a little bit about his, you know, ideal life and his ideal city of sitting in cafes and drinking espresso and talking about the important ideas of the day. Jabotinsky was an incredibly, incredibly talented writer and not only a political writer, he wrote several novels, one of which was optioned by Hollywood and made into a film with Hedy Lamarr several years after Jabotinsky’s death. The book was called Samson and the Nazarene. I’m not sure if the movie has the same title, but that is the book that was sold.

Schwab: Oh, I’ve read that book.

Yael: Really? Look at you!

Schwab: It’s a fictional retelling of the Samson story. It’s really good. I mean, I don’t need to come on here and say you’re telling me Jabezinsky was a good writer? I approve of his, but yeah, I read that book some time ago. I don’t remember when exactly. Probably was assigned it for something at some point, but I remember thinking this is actually quite interesting as this novelistic retelling of the biblical Samson story.

Yael: The people in Hollywood agreed. They bought the rights from him, I believe, for $666, which is a kind of off-putting number, but probably a lot of money at the time. In addition to being a novelist and a successful novelist at that, he obviously wrote incredibly well politically and was a journalist. He was a really talented translator as well. He translated Dante’s Inferno into Hebrew. He translated Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and Annabelle Lee into Hebrew. Just really fascinating.

Schwab: Wow, okay. I was not expecting that Edgar Allen Poe was gonna come up today.

Yael: Yeah, I wasn’t either. I actually, I have a real affinity for The Raven, even though it’s super creepy, because the last apartment that I lived in New York was built on the site where Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Raven. So I kind of feel, I feel tight with him. Also, the, you know, Baltimore Ravens are named after it.

Schwab: This is way off-topic, but is the team named after the poem? It’s not just cause there are a lot of sports teams just named after birds, but that’s not just a bird the way the Falcons are or the Cardinals. This is a deliberate.

Yael: No, no, I believe Poe is from Baltimore. It is named after the Raven.

Schwab: In case it’s not obvious, I really don’t follow football that much, but I’ve never really seen any Baltimore Ravens stuff that has called to mind the Edgar Allen Poe thing. Although come to think of it, I don’t know that there are any Raven references in life that aren’t somehow connected to the Poe poem.

Yael: Well, they were a big thing to Jabotinsky because he clearly thought the poem was good enough to translate into Hebrew. And so, aside from being this man who believed that Jews needed to better themselves physically and etiquette-ly, in terms of etiquette and all sorts of other ways, he was, had a great literary mind and Hillel Hulkin, who wrote one of the most prolific biographies of Jabotinsky, has said that Jabotinsky’s choice to focus on Zionism was a real loss to literature because even in the small amount of time that he dedicated to literature, he was extraordinarily prolific. So, you can’t do everything, but you can do a little of some things. And he really made an imprint in that realm.

One thing I do want to note is that in 1930, Jabotinsky’s visa to be in Palestine was revoked by the British because he was a rabble rouser. He was traveling abroad, and they revoked his visa, and he could not return, which is why he ended up spending the last 10 years of his life based out of New York and traveling abroad. And he ultimately dies in New York. He actually died, I found out, in Hunter, New York, which is upstate in the Catskills, at a Jewish self-defense camp that had been founded there. So again, very in keeping with his desire that the Jews be strong and defend themselves.

Schwab: So reminiscent of Moses, the biblical Moses character. I know that Jabotinsky was in Israel, but the idea that he was fighting for something and couldn’t be in literally the promised land himself is so similar to the story of Moses in the Bible where he leads the Jews to Israel, but he can’t enter himself and he dies outside of Israel and the rest of the people get to go in.

Yael: And then his body is brought in to Israel.

Schwab: Right, oh yeah, great point, yeah. But yeah, but nobody bars Moses’s body from coming in for 15 years first.

Yael: Very, very good parallel. So before he dies, Jabotinsky spends much of the 1930s traveling around the world trying to sell his Jewish evacuation plan of moving that 1.5 million Jews from Eastern Europe to Palestine. And he also tries to sell a Jewish battalion plan to Churchill. He offers Churchill a battalion of 120,000 Jews. Whether or not he had those 120,000 Jews to offer, I am not sure.

Schwab: If Churchill said yes, then he’ll find them afterwards.

Yael: Churchill turned him down, and then he went to the Americans, and then the war started, and the whole thing just never took off from there, as there were other concerns. One thing I wanted to note about Revisionist Zionism is that it took its Revisionist name from groups that were not happy with the way the world was split up after World War I. The groups who did not necessarily like the borders that had been established of various countries after World War I. And this is where they called themselves Revisionists. They wanted to revise the plans of what had happened. And that is what Jabotinsky and his comrades were trying to do. He would not like the word comrade. He rejected communism. But that’s where they took their name from. And that leads me to something that was very important in revisionist Zionism, which is territorial maximalism.

Schwab: Hmm. Oh, oh boy. What is that?

Yael:  Jabotinsky’s desire was for a Jewish homeland on both sides of the Jordan River. So from the river to the sea, but also, the east bank, including Transjordan. And I think that really makes sense when you think about his ideology, because land is power to a lot of people. And territorial maximalism would allow the Jews to acquire as much power as they could and be able to defend themselves best that they could.

And this territorial maximalism really differed from the Weizmann-Ben Gurion view, which obviously wanted some land because they wanted a Jewish homeland, but was much more at least to Jabotinsky’s mind, a bit more peacenik. They were a bit more willing to compromise on land in order to make the Jewish homeland happen.

Schwab: I’m so curious, what did it mean for it to be a Jewish homeland in this territorial maximalist model? And you mentioned before his idea that if there was a Jewish prime minister, there should be an Arab vice prime minister or premier or whatever, which makes it sound like in his mind, there would sometimes be an Arab prime minister. What was he envisioning as the Jewish homeland?

Yael: I think in his view it was possible because there was going to be a majority vote system.

Schwab: Mm-hmm. And Jews wouldn’t necessarily be the majority.

Yael: Or people don’t need to vote their tribe. Maybe Jews could vote for an Arab prime minister. It’s not something that seems likely at the present moment, but it’s certainly a possibility. And again, this is something that most people, when they think of Jabotinsky, definitely do not think of. But as I mentioned earlier, he’s really a man of profound profound contradictions. And I think that some of that can be traced to his early life, growing up in a cosmopolitan city, taking the time to travel around Europe as a young adult, and just having more exposure to the world than the shtetl Jews who comprised a different type of Zionism did.

Schwab: But at the same time, he doesn’t have this rosy, overly optimistic view of things because he’s also aware that there’s a catastrophe looming for Eastern European Jews.

Yael: 100 percent. And he’s also not opposed to some violence. After the white paper is issued by the British government in 1939, which severely limited Jewish immigration to Palestine, he is totally supportive of efforts to bring Jews into the, into British mandatory Palestine illegally.

He had a view of getting all these people onto boats, bringing the boats into the port, preferably right outside of Tel Aviv, and just kind of flooding the land with Jews that were coming in illegally.

Schwab: So long as they’re still dressed properly, but yeah.

Yael: Oh, for sure, for sure. He was involved in the founding of the Irgun, which was a more violent group that was in British mandatory Palestine, fighting the British and trying to get more Jews into the land and trying to obtain Jewish control of the land. Speaking of military groups and paramilitary groups, one of Jabotinsky’s lasting legacies is the youth paramilitary group that he founded called Beitar which he founded in the 1920s and became extremely, extremely popular in Europe. There were chapters of this youth group everywhere. Didn’t actually do anything militaristic, though the founding of this group and some of Jabotinsky’s other tendencies did lead certain people to label him a fascist. In fact, Ben Gurion called him Vladimir Hitler, which is not a very nice thing to call someone.

Schwab: Hmm, yikes. Yeah. To put it mildly.

Yael: Seems extreme, but Beitar was a way for him to influence the youth and for his acolytes to teach Jewish youth in Europe that they are powerful, that they can be powerful, that they should stand with their heads held high, eat without their elbows on the table, but have a vision of themselves as people, as humans. He really wanted to shed the Yid label. He felt that Yid, which I guess one could associate with the Shtetl Jews or lower class Jews, that they were weak and they were sickly. And that is not the version of a Jew that we want to present to the world and that is not the version of a Jew that runs his own country.

Schwab: That’s so part of the Israeli ethos, right? Like the rejection of, the sickly weak European Jew and the vision instead of this, a very strong, powerful person who can defend himself, and work the land. It sounds like the work on the land part was not what Jabotinsky was going for.

Yael: I was going to say, and yet Jabotinsky felt that Ben Gurion did exemplify this weakened Jew, which, listen, it sounds like there was a lot of beef between the two of them. I think a lot of this may have been more personal than logical. So because I do agree, I do think that Ben Gurion version of the pioneer and the sabra and the Israeli is one of self-sufficiency and strength. And the fact that Jabotinsky didn’t see it that way and didn’t see it just as a different conception of the same thing may have been due to personal animus. Professor Rebecca Kobrin, who is a professor of Jewish history at Columbia, mentioned that the revisionist Zionists spent time in the US with celebrities trying to get popular support for their cause, that Frank Sinatra, among others, were participating in pageants to bring support to the Zionist cause.

I do know that Sinatra visited Israel in the 50s or early 60s, so he certainly had connections there and had connections with the Zionist movement. But she also mentioned that when you think about Zionism in Hollywood, which is a totally different can of worms today, we think about the film Exodus starring Paul Newman. So handsome in that movie, that there is a reason why it’s Paul Newman, because he is a man’s man, but he is also sensitive and soulful and that vision, the Hollywood vision of Zionism, really came from the Revisionist Zionists. I don’t think Ben Gurion and his khaki romper was getting a meeting with Hollywood studios. So it is this very, on the one hand, it’s a movement that’s about total self-sufficiency.

Schwab: I don’t know if you saw it, but there recently was a movie Golda with Helen Mirren and it’s, it was excellent.

Yael: I did see it.

Schwab: I loved it. And it’s really interesting because I feel that presentation of Golda Meir is a really fascinating portrayal of a certain type of Israeli character. That’s very, very different than the Paul Newman in Exodus model.

Yael: Oh my god, yes. I mean, especially the movie, the way that it’s filmed, they focus on her shoes and her calves often. She had these very swollen ankles. And they would zoom in on her tobacco stained fingers and she never didn’t have a cigarette in her hands.

Schwab: Yeah. None of these are really like spoilers for the movie unless you literally know nothing about Golda Meir. But otherwise, if you know anything about Golda Meir, you know, the incessant smoking that she was not in the best health.

Yael: Right, she’s going for radiation during the Yom Kippur War and not telling anyone. I don’t know if that necessarily means she’s a sickly Jew in terms of a stereotype, but she is sick, yeah, 100 percent.

Schwab: Oh no, I was saying she literally is a sickly Jew.

Yael: But she is from that Ben Gurion-Weizmann camp, even though she was American. And I think you can look at every prime minister of Israel as being part and parcel of one of these two stereotypes or mixing the two of them together. Menachem Begin in particular was some say a protege of Jabotinsky and the Herut far-right party was based on Jabotinsky’s principles. Likud today, many, most say also comes from these principles, though as we mentioned, does not entirely represent Jabotinsky’s full worldview.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky (bottom right) meets with Betar leaders including Menachem Begin (bottom left) in Warsaw, Poland, circa 1939. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Schwab: Sounds like, there should be a movie about Jabotinsky, called Jabotinsky, and obviously there’s only one choice about who should play him, Bradley Cooper.

Yael: I mean, maybe without the nose?

Schwab: But with a nice pair of wire rim glasses.

Yael: I think he’d look cute.

Schwab: Bradley Cooper, if you’re listening, we have a pitch for you.

Yael: I never say no to Bradley Cooper, but, and interestingly enough, he is currently dating a Palestinian, so I don’t know how he would feel about being Jabotinsky in a movie. That would be really interesting. Man of many contradictions. And I know that we’ve jumped all over the place, and I do apologize for that. There are just so many anecdotes and stories and little things about him. I think it is important that we’re talking about him because that contradiction is coming to life every day in the state of Israel right now, as it engages in a war and it struggles with its identity, what it means to be a self-sufficient nation, defending itself from harm, defending its citizens from people who want to exterminate them, and also existing in the “modern” world where what’s on the surface seems to matter more than what’s beneath the surface because of the way that information is consumed. It’s all obviously very complicated. But I think Jabotinsky is an interesting character to talk about at this moment because of the ways in which he himself grappled with many of these issues.

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