The Revisionists

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Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume These shifts in Western opinion happened to coincide with changes in the direction of Soviet historiography that followed the accession of Brezhnev in , when Soviet scholars were told to devote greater attention to the historic role of the "masses," especially industrial labor.

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This role had been minimized under Stalin who preferred to give credit for Soviet successes to the party and himself. Through contacts with Soviet academic institutions which encouraged their endeavors, the revisionists gained access to some archives. During Gorbachev's perestroika a few found sufficient approval in Moscow's eyes to have their books and articles published in the Soviet Union. Before proceeding to the tenets of revisionism, something needs to be said about its political ramifications. On the face of it, events that had occurred in distant Russia decades ago are not a subject likely to exercise Western academics.

THE REVISIONISTS by Thomas Mullen | Kirkus Reviews

If some of the latter nevertheless have come to feel passionately about them, it is because the origins of the communist state bear directly on its legitimacy. If the Soviet state had come into being as the result of a conspiracy, as argued by traditional Western and non-Communist Russian historians, then its claim to rule was tenuous at best.

If, on the other hand, it had been conceived in a popular revolt then it was a legitimate government with which the West had to come to terms, regardless of its feelings about it. To demonstrate the need for accommodation with the communist regime, the Western revisionists, like their counter-parts in the USSR, felt the need to assert both the legitimacy and the permanence of the Soviet state with reference to its allegedly popular beginnings.

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An unknown error has occurred. Robert Stricker's Neue Welt in Vienna served the Revisionist movement as long as Stricker himself was one of its leaders. In Palestine, the daily Do'ar ha-Yom purchased by Jabotinsky in had a Revisionist-oriented editorial policy. It continued to be published for about two years. Yeivin, and U. The daily Ha-Yarden existed in Jerusalem for several years in the mids but for lack of funds became a weekly and was transferred to Tel Aviv in In , Ha-Mashkif began to appear again and continued to be published through the period of statehood.

The monthly Beitar , edited by Joseph Klausner and B. Netanyahu was published in Jerusalem in the mids and became the ideological and literary organ of the Revisionist-oriented public in Palestine. The latter closed in The history of the parties of the "right" within the Zionist movement and the development of a society outside that of the General Labor Federation the Histradrut is much less known than that of the latter and of the Labor movement. The political dominance and ideology of the latter went unchallenged, both in theory and in practice, at least since the early s.

The "national right" or the "radical right" 1 was, in this respect, in a much better position than the "liberal" or "civil" right but its historiography nevertheless concentrated on several periods and a succession of events and is far from being complete.

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The Zionist "right" was generally credited with a monolithic image: for its supporters, the national and political movement was the only one in Zionism that fought, without aberrations, for the establishment of a Jewish State; for its opponents, it was an expression of "reactionary" foundations, a barren movement, whose historical function was negative from beginning to end. Both attitudes are generalizations with a clear ideological coloring.

Both, to a large extent, ignore one of the questions that interest historians and sociologists dealing with political and social movements, namely, that of the internal dynamic during times of change and the appearance of adaptation or response to changing circumstances. This interest focused mainly not on the history of the movement but on the political and spiritual heritage of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist movement.

The intention is to throw some light on a few of the basic problems in the development of the Zionist and Israeli "right," and to concentrate in particular on the above-mentioned question of continuity and change, of tradition and alteration, on both the ideological and socio-organizational levels.

The avowed fidelity to Jabotinsky's heritage, identical ingredients of leadership and political style, a certain organizational continuity, partial social-demographic identity, and a continuance of fundamental axioms, have created and given root to this. In fact, Revisionism did undergo a process of change and adaptation to the reality of the sovereign Jewish State after May , as did all the other political and social movements in Israel.

The Revisionists, however, were faced, at least in theory, with one problem of principle that did not worry the other Zionist and Israeli movements. In , Ze'ev Jabotinsky wrote to David Ben-Gurion: "It is a matter of indifference to me whether the state of the Jews will be an orthodox Jewish state or a socialist state — the main thing is that there should be a state. Schechtman in the Russian-language Revisionist organ, Rassviet , in December " Revisionism 's program and ideology contain no socialist or religious aspects that are unacceptable to Zionism as a whole… Revisionism is a political movement… On socialist questions our opinion, like that of the World Zionist Federation, is neutral.

But Revisionism did not dissolve in Revisionism was a social and ideological movement deeply anchored in Jewish public life, and, from its very beginning, had set aims beyond the establishment of a sovereign state. It considered establishment of the state as a partial and incomplete achievement both in terms of its territorial boundaries and from the point of view of its social and cultural image. Revisionism, therefore, had to adjust to the decisive change in reality in the Land of Israel with the transfer from an autonomous society to a sovereign society equipped with the apparatus of statehood.

It had to reexamine its philosophy, renew its organizational structure and find new social support. Prior to , Revisionism's main strength as a social and cultural movement in Eastern Europe was principally in Poland. There Revisionism quickly developed from a small political faction and a number of youth and student organizations into one of the largest and most crystallized popular movements within Zionism.

This base was destroyed immediately on the outbreak of World War II.


Revisionism's strength in the Land of Israel was relatively weak; it grew much more slowly and its organization was feeble. This affected both the style of the movement, which acquired a new popular image, and the contents of its philosophy. The adaptation to changes was not achieved without a severe organizational upheaval. Even prior to Revisionism was far from being a one-dimensional movement in terms of the opinions held by its members, and its organizational structure was split as well.

There was a big difference between the Zionist Revisionists, the political arm, and Betar, the youth organization, and in the tension between the various groups caused the first split in Revisionism with the breaking away of a group of veterans headed by Meir Grossman and the founding of the Jewish State Party. Within the party there was a tendency to undermine the basic axioms of Revisionism that expressed a nationalist-activist philosophy and demanded a change in the methods of operation of the movement.

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The latter was not the underground arm of a bona fide political party as was the Haganah , but a sovereign underground organization. Jabotinsky and Revisionism believed in the need for the existence of the movement as a bona fide party, functioning on a political plane and believing in the power of moral pressure and in the moral stand of Zionism, and in the force of common interests between Zionism and Great Britain.

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The Zionist Revisionist leadership brought the party back into the Zionist Federation in and took part in the Provisional Council of State; three of its members were amongst the signatories of the Scroll of Independence. Some of them joined the General Zionists, while others, such as Dr.

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Revisionism was a social and ideological movement deeply anchored in Jewish public life, and, from its very beginning, had set aims beyond the establishment of a sovereign state. The names register in my Contemporary Persons, Locations, and Events file, linked to my brain via the implanted chip. Paul Blustein, "U. The Japanese hated the Chinese, who hated the Taiwanese and the Tibetans. Murnane,

Benjamin Lubotsky, after a short-lived attempt to establish an independent party called Mifleget ha-Am, even joined Mapai. The new party's main problem was twofold: on the one hand it had to establish its right of legitimization as a democratic-parliamentary movement, free of its past as a breakaway underground movement and meriting widespread political support irrespective of any sympathy for its struggle against the British; and, on the other, for the right of legitimacy as a political party in opposition to a political and national structure it considered faulty and negative.

The claim-cum-aspiration for Israeli sovereignty over Transjordan was dropped from the party platform, and it adjusted to the rules of parliamentary-electoral contest, particularly after the serious crisis that broke out in the wake of the dispute over German reparations and the violent demonstration against the Knesset in January The various groups and schools of thought within Revisionism had no uniform position with regard to the Arab problem.

Begin's Peace Plan was anchored in Jabotinsky's political program by offering provisional autonomy to the Arabs of the territories, but not in the context of Jewish sovereignty. The question of national sovereignty over Judea and Samaria remained open, at least theoretically, although there was a declared objection to the application of any other. This opinion — supported by that of Revisionism — maintains that for Zionism to relinquish, even with reservations, any part of Western Palestine, would be tantamount to recognizing the legitimacy of another national claim over it.

The Premier, on the other hand, considered his Peace Plan as taking due account of current political facts as well as of Jabotinsky's political heritage, inasmuch as it proposed autonomy for the Arabs of the territories but opposed the introduction of any other national sovereignty over them. As Prime Minister, Begin continued to practice Jabotinsky's belief in the power of the moral claim, of historical right and cooperation based on common interests with the Western Power the U. It is an irony of history that the argument between Begin and his opponents within his movement recalls to a certain extent the dispute between Jabotinsky and Mapai at the 17 th Zionist Congress in Jabotinsky had demanded that the Congress publicly declare that the aim of Zionism was to establish a Jewish state in Palestine and Transjordan, while the leaders of Mapai considered such a declaration dangerous and superfluous and preferred a vague formulation.

Jabotinsky failed in his attempt to gain the political cooperation of the "civilian" parties in the Yishuv and Zionist movement. This amalgamation was not based solely on the assumption that only a unification of the camp of the right would be able to overcome the continued hegemony of the Labor movement. Both parties considered this involvement as strengthening the base of the ruling party. Jabotinsky, more than any other Zionist leader, accredited the bourgeoisie and private initiative with moral justification and moral validity within a comprehensive socio-economic theory that had no room for partisan-class interests.

During the first year of the Likkud rule, this internal tension did not surface, but it can be clearly seen as one of the most difficult problems of the Likkud as the party in power, having to honor both ideological commitments and its loyalty to the ideological heritage of Revisionism and Jabotinsky as well as its electoral commitments to the voting public at large.

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During the Mandatory period, Revisionism did not attach political importance to the pioneering settlement activity and strategy adopted by the Labor Movement. It viewed collective settlement as an element that channeled to itself vast amounts of money from the capital, beyond the degree of its importance, which were thus wasted on superfluous collectivist experiments.

Collective settlement was seen in the main as the great rival of the private economy and its victor over the monies of the limited resources of national capital. The advantage of the various forms of agricultural settlements was judged by the criterion of how many jobs they could ensure. On the political level, Revisionism believed that political facts should be determined by political negotiations, their commitments, and not by the creation of settlements.