Jabotinsky, Vladimir Ze'ev (1880–1940)

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Zionist ideologist, born in Odessa. Vladimir Jabotinsky studied in Switzerland and Italy, where he was influenced by romantic nationalism. Advocating a radical Zionism, he had begun propounding his concept of a Jewish state by 1903. In 1918, during World War I, he helped create a Jewish battalion that was integrated into the British army and fought the Ottoman army. He made a name for himself there. In 1923 students supporting Jabotinsky's ideas founded the Betar movement, which was transformed into a paramilitary force. In 1925 he created the Union of Revisionist Zionists, an independent branch of the Zionist movement. Between 1928 and 1929 he lived in Jerusalem, where he directed an insurance company and published a daily, Do'ar ha-Yom. Confrontations on 1 May 1928 between young Betar members and communist militants were evidence of a scission, which over time grew larger, between the revisionists and the socialist majority of the Zionists. From that time on, Betar found itself spearheading the fight for the "liberation of Palestine."

In 1930, when Jabotinsky was visiting South Africa, British authorities prevented him from returning to Palestine by refusing to renew his visa, obliging him to live in Paris. In 1931 he broke with the leadership of the Zionist Congress, which refused to pronounce itself openly in favor of creating a Jewish state in all of Palestine. In 1935, at the time of the Vienna Zionist Congress, he announced the creation of a new movement, of which he was the president, the New Zionist Organization, whose headquarters were in London. He rejected the British plan to partition Palestine and made numerous attempts to further his cause with any government that approved of creating a Jewish national homeland, obtaining financial and material help from Poland. In 1937 Betar and the Irgun coordinated their actions against British forces in Palestine. In September 1938, at the Betar conference in Warsaw, he was strongly criticized by party members, in particular by Menachem Begin, who favored passing to the "military phase." After the start of World War II, he recommended the creation of a Jewish brigade, which would participate in combat against Germany. Jabotinsky died of a heart attack during a visit to a Betar youth camp in New York State. His ashes were long barred from entry into Israel by the Zionist Labor leadership but were finally transferred to Mount Herzl, in Jerusalem, in 1964.

SEE ALSO Begin, Menachem;Betar;Ottomans;Zionism.