Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a man of paradoxes, and one of them has always been a source of some unease among certain of his followers. The founder of Revisionism had a secular view of the world, and practiced none of the rituals of Judaism. Yet the Likud, his political heir, owes its rise to power in good measure to traditional and religious Jews.
Paradox? The historian Avi Shilon, over at Mosaic, has written an essay claiming that this isn’t such a contradiction, since the “mature” Jabotinsky had begun a personal reconciliation with the faith.
I’ve written a response to Shilon, and there I take a different stand on the question. (So did Hillel Halkin, a Jabotinsky biographer, in an earlier response.) But I then follow another paradox opened by Shilon’s essay: Jabotinsky’s view of Jewish settlement. Jabotinsky and David Ben-Gurion came down on opposite sides in a famous debate just over a century ago, surrounding a place called Tel Hai. Over time, Jabotinsky’s view has prevailed, but not in the way you might think. Read my full response here.