Page 142 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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I f Jabotinsky idealized America as the quintessential frontier, if
he celebrated the democratizing influence of American dance,
jazz music and movies, he also wrote penetrating analyses of
American moral dilemmas. His review of Helen Hunt Jackson’s^
Century o f Dishonor
is a thorough, absorbing and jarring piece of
reportage on the plight of the American Indian. Similarly, his
analysis of the fact and fiction represented by the movie
The Birth
of a Nation
contains highly interesting insights into Lincoln’s ul­
terior motives for freeing the slaves, into Reconstruction and the
Ku Klux Klan. Jabotinsky also made a provocative negative com­
ment in 1929 on the dubious purpose of the war-story fad,
suggesting that these stories, plays and films actually titillate and
attract more than they frighten and deter. Finally, on the subject
of America, Jabotinsky wrote a critique of Jack London’s fiction,
bemoaning the fact that London too often ruined a good plot with
contrived philosophizing.
Such ability to converse about many many things was, for
Jabotinsky, an important trait of the Jewish gentleman. In fact, in
one artful dialogue of social criticismJabotinsky lamented the fact
that so many Jewish lawyers, doctors and engineers have become
so narrowly pragmatic as not to be interested “even in the gossip”
of any field other than their own. By contrast, the old-time Jewish
merchants were often knowledgeable about a whole variety of
things. The thrust of this article is to point out the unfortunate
consequences of the flight of Jews from the business-world be­
cause of the stigma of its being “too Jewish” a vocation. Our point
is that Jabotinsky as a feuilletonist attempted to demonstrate that
a Jew could be
: intensely commerce-minded, intensely
chauvinistic, and, at the same time, extraordinarily worldly. For
that reason Jabotinsky wrote on topics such as: Socrates’ view of
women as more suited by their natures for political administra­
tion; the unfortunate fact that the great classics are relegated to be
“children’s literature”; the various types of “fools” in the world;
linguistic features of the languages of the Boers and Bushmen in
South Africa; Sinclair Lewis and Theodore Dreiser; Rousseau
and Tolstoy; and travel-diaries of Odessa, Vilna, Provence and
All of these topics were deliberately not “Jewish,” although