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Michel M.J. Shore

The Zionism of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Benzion Netanyahu (9)

Zionism- Its Thinkers and Implementers (9)

As this series on Zionism, its thinkers and implementers, draws to a close, it is necessary to recognize, acknowledge and understand the various currents and cross-currents that have influenced Zionist thinkers and implementers.

Doctor Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Benjamin Netanyahu, was an instrumental figure of Revisionist Zionism. As a renowned historian, Benzion Netanyahu taught at various universities in the United States, including Cornell.

Benzion Netanyahu’s career included having been the co- editor of  Davaar, a Hebrew monthly, the editor of the Revisionist Zionist daily newspaper, HaYarden, (until it was ordered closed by the British Mandate authorities) and then the editor of the Zionist political library.

In 1940, Benzion Netanyahu became the secretary to Ze’ev Zabotinsky, the father of Revisionist Zionism, in the same year that Jabotinsky died. It is then that Benzion Netanyahu became executive director of the New Zionist Movement Organization of America; a post he held until 1948, the year of the creation of the State of Israel.

Benzion Netanyahu was against the 1947 Partition Plan of the United Nations, as he believed that the option was not viable due to the real possibility of renewed conflict. He viewed the demarcation of borders of the Partition Plan as unrealistic for the security of the State of Israel. Benzion Netanyahu advocated “practical realism” to Zionism, to ensure that the creation of the State of Israel would be built on a solid foundation.

Just as this series began with reflections on modern Zionism, as advocated by Theodor Herzl, so, it is necessary to envision the passage of time in Zionist thought, influenced by the Second World War, and the Holocaust.  The creation of the State of Israel, subsequent to the UN partition plan and the borders that have changed hands due to wars and peace Initiatives have impacted Zionist thought and implementation.

The vision of Zionism remains in the eyes of the beholder, dependent on periods of greater or lesser tranquility in regard to security.

Just as in the pivotal writings of Herzl in Altneuland, “The Old New Land” and Der Judenstaadt, The Jewish State, the father of modern Zionism brings clarity to the age-old idea of Zionism, adapted to the reality of modern history, prior to the partition plan of the U.N. (for which Herzl was no longer alive), it is necessary to envision the work of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and its influence on Zionism by subsequent Israeli governments .

To ensure that each current of thought is understood in its interpretation, in as much as any thought can be implemented in reality–based situations, that play themselves out on political scenes and spectrums,  Benzion Netanyahu’s book, “The Founding Fathers of Zionism” is significant to the understanding of the cross -current’s vision that exists as to the secure viability of the State of Israel and its place in the world.

As this series closes, the idealism and practical realism of the Zionist idea and its implementation is a work in progress for the needs of Israeli society, coming together in its challenges; and, for its house not to be divided in the face of these internal and external challenges.

The vision of Zionism continues to be imbued with a spiritual dimension, whether consciously or subconsciously, in all sectors of Israeli society, whether secular or religious. How that vision will be implemented depends on the fortitude necessary, for all sectors to come together, for the sake of present and future generations in the practical realism of the world in which Israel finds itself.

About the Author
Michel M.J. Shore is a retired judge of the Federal Court of Canada and recently made a home in Israel. He is the writer of several published books and poetry collections.
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