Zeev Vladimir Jabotinsky was born in Odessa, Russia on the 12th of Heshvan 5631 (18.10.1880). He studied law in Italy and Switzerland, and worked there as a newspaper correspondent. His articles and writings made him famous as one of the most illustrious journalists in the Russian language. He signed the articles he submitted from Italy with the literary nom de plume “Altalena”. The pogrom against the Jews of Kishinev in 1903 spurred Jabotinsky to enlist for action in the Zionist cause. He organized units for Jewish self defense and fought for the rights of the Jewish minority in Russia.
Jabotinsky was chosen as a delegate to the 6th Zionist Congress, the last Congress that was attended by Benjamin Zeev (Theodor) Herzl. At that time Jabotinsky was very active on behalf of Hebrew language and culture all over Russia, and was involved in the work to establish a Hebrew University in pre-State Palestine. After the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he went to the front as a military correspondent.
Jabotinsky met Yosef Trumpeldor and from that time began to work on the establishment of a Jewish brigade. Jabotinsky was not prepared to be satisfied with an auxiliary unit, so he went to London, where he continued his efforts until, in August 1917, he was granted official approval to set up the first Jewish Brigade. Jabotinsky himself served in this Brigade with the rank of lieutenant, and took part in the battle for the Jordan crossings and in the capture of A-Salt in the campaign to liberate Palestine from Turkish rule.
By Passover 1920 Zeev Jabotinsky was the leader of the defense of Jerusalem against Arab rioters, for which he was sentenced by the British Mandate Authorities to 15 years hard labor. As a result of the storm aroused by this sentence, he was pardoned and released from Acre Prison. From 1921 Jabotinsky served as a member of the Zionist Executive and was one of the founders of Keren Hayesod (United Jewish Appeal). Due to his disagreement with Zionist policy, he resigned and in 1925 set up the Alliance of Revisionist Zionists, which demanded the immediate establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
In 1923 the Beitar (Yosef Trumpeldor Alliance) youth movement was set up. This movement, which sought to educate its members in the national and military spirit, was headed by Jabotinsky. In the years 1928-1929 he lived in Palestine, where he worked as the editor of the daily newspaper Do’ar Hayom, and was engaged in wide-ranging political activity. When he left the country in 1929 for a series of lectures, the British authorities refused to allow him to return, and he remained in the Diaspora until the end of his life.
In 1935, when the Zionist Executive rejected Jabotinsky’s political demands and refused to give a clear definition of “the ultimate purpose of Zionism” (the establishment of the Jewish state), Jabotinsky decided to resign from the Zionist Federation and set up the New Zionist Federation, which conducted independent political activity on behalf of a Jewish state and free Jewish immigration to Palestine.
In 1937 the Etzel (the National Military Organization in the Land of Israel) became the military arm of Jabotinsky’s movement. The three entities headed by Jabotinsky – the New Zionist Federation (NZF), the Beitar Youth Movement and the Etzel – became the three arms of that movement: The NZF was the political arm, Beitar educated Jewish youth in the Diaspora for the struggle to liberate and build Palestine, and Etzel was the military arm. These entities worked together to organize the “Nevertheless” immigration, which arranged more than 40 ships that sailed from European ports bringing tens of thousands of clandestine immigrants to Israel without the permission of the British authorities.
Jabotinsky wrote poems, novels, short stories and articles on political, social and economic subjects, and also translated selected works of world literature into Hebrew. After the outbreak of World War II, Jabotinsky worked in Britain and in the United States to establish a Jewish army to fight alongside the Allies against Germany.
On 29th Tammuz 5700 (4.8.1940), during a visit to a Beitar summer camp in New York, he died of a heart attack. In his will he instructed that his remains should only be brought to the Land of Israel on the orders of a future Hebrew government. His last wish was granted by Levy Eshkol. On 29th Tammuz 5724 (1964), the remains of Jabotinsky and his wife Yoanna were brought to the State of Israel and interred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Jabotinsky Institute In Israel
38 King George St, Tel Aviv, Israel