Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

Basic HTML Version

Legion and by his subsequent racial troubles in America. As a
result, Lobagola abandoned Judaism and, in Jerusalem, espoused
Catholicism. Jabotinsky, deeply moved at the thought of “the
silent despair of a primitive soul such as this,” writes: “There are
times when you are filled with hatred for the entire world, as for
example, after reading a book like this.”
What emerges from the totality of Jabotinsky’s feuilletons is his
overriding sincerity (and authenticity) as a cultivated and sensi­
tive intellectual, who was drawn to the halcyon calm of the classics
but seized by defiant pride for everything Jewish from Shylock to
the “smell of garlic” in the ghetto. When Jabotinsky was being
propagandistic and manipulative in his writing, he was so blatant
and transparen t about it, that for this reader, at least, his
genuineness cannot be impugned. This reader believes Jabotin­
sky’s emotional declaration of 1906, after he was accused of being
insensitive, of having no “philosophy of pogroms”:
Whatever may take place in my soul — I will never come to
[the scene of] the terrible conflagration of my people hold­
ing a tear-drenched hankerchief in my hand, and I will not
desecrate either my people or myself with cheap consola­
Jabotinsky’s recourse to rhetoric was a product of the fear —
particularly, in the thirties — that he was doing too little too
slowly. He utilized another Passover analogy to express this sense
of urgency in the feuilleton “Pound the Iron Flat.” The time will
come, he writes, when our grandchildren will peer into our eyes
on the Seder night, and we will have to answer with bowed heads
and voices choked with shame: “We are slaves . . . I was a slave,
and in my slavery have I remained.” Amidst “the flood of histori­
cal currents,” Jabotinsky feared, one might be left behind, cling­
ing to the shore.
In attempting to sketch Jabotinsky’s literary profile, primarily
as it was before that frightfully intense and fanatical era of the
thirties, we have assembled various etchings of that profile from
his feuilletons. Jabotinsky himself gave us a clue when he noted
his immense respect for the feuilleton as a literary genre in his