The Statesman

Newspaper: Jewish Herald
posted on:
1 In aug 1978
Security - Army. States - Britain/England. Individuals - Ze'ev Jabotinsky
Begin writes about Ze'ev Jabotinsky and provides examples to prove that Jabotinsky was a statesman. First Begin compares a statesman to a musician, painter, and sculptor. He does this to show that it takes time to realize that someone is a statesman, just how it takes time to realize someone is a musician, a painter, or a sculptor. Then Begin provides examples through history that led people to see Jabotinsky as a statesman. For example, he predicted that Britain would open a front in the Middle East. Additionally, he argued that Zionists must not be neutral and help Britain fight Turkey. Also, he realized that a Jewish British High Commissioner was an anti-Zionist. Lastly, Begin mentions that Jabotinsky knew that for survival, there must be a Jewish Army. In all of these circumstances, Jabotinsky was correct, proving he is a statesman.
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IS THERE such a thing as a statesman?  Or is the domain of politics just an open field where anyone can pitch his tent and declare: I am a statesman.

It is, at times, strange to see the lack of understanding of this conception or rather—let us not hesitate to say so—this particular science and wisdom which is called statesmanship.

Why do we recognise the outstanding talents of a man who takes a small instrument into his hands and draws from it sounds so heavenly that they carry us into the lofty realms of beauty whither—according to the primitive thinkers—the soul, which has become detached returns on hearing or seeing splendor reincarnated?  The violinist can do it.  You, with the same fingers, with the same instrument, cannot do it.

Why do we recognise the rare gifts of the man who takes a brush into his hands and produces a picture before the beauty of which we bow our heads in admiration?—we and the generations that follow us.

Or for what reason do we recognise the particular creative talents of the man who takes a stone, a hammer and a chisel and creates beauty and splendour?

Let us recognise that just as there is the great musician, the painter and the sculptor—and there are but few in the history of mankind—so there is the statesman, who is a statesman by virtue of specific talents which are not bestowed upon many.

But by what do we recognise the statesman?  How can he be recognised?  In order to answer this question let us ask another one: how does one recognise virtuoso?  One does not realise immediately that one is in the presence of talent.  Years go by, talent ripens, proof is here, the melody is heard, hearts are conquered, and one day we say—now we know.  Here is the Maestro!

So it is also in politics.  The statesman is not immediately recognised.  But if, one fateful and tragic day, one man gets up and declares: "Britain will open a front in the Middle East" at the very time when most British leaders and foremost among them Kitchener, the soldier, say the contrary; and after a short time such a front is actually opened in the Middle East—then everyone agrees: the statesman was right, he foresaw events correctly.

If during World War I, all the officials believed in and demanded "neutrality," but one man alone declared: "accursed and forbidden be neutrality.  We must act, we must rise against Turkey for, if her rule over Eretz Israel is not eliminated, then there is no justification for our hopes!" And days go by and years elapse, and all admit—subsequently—that neutrality was vanity, while the alliance was justified.  And all knew: the statesman hath spoken.

If under the rule of a British High Commissioner of Jewish origin, while everyone says that he is the "Ezra of our times," and unannointed prince and bearer of all the hopes of our people—one man gets up and says: "Herbert Samuel's rule is the first attempt to liquidate Zionism"—and after but a few years all see that it is thus and not otherwise—again it is recognised that the statesman hath spoken.

And if, in the days when leaders abuse the idea of a Jewish State, oppose it, ban it, repudiate it, fight it—one man stands up and declares: "A Jewish State is the command of supreme justice, it will arise, in our generation it will come true"—and but a few years elapse, and all ask themselves: "How could we ever have lived without a Jewish State?"—then it also becomes clear to all: the magic fiddle of the statesman has brought forth the melody of faith in national resurrection.

If in the days when we had no weapons, no army and no strength, and on the forehead of the eternal wanderer was written the terrible word "Hefker" (outcast)—one man stood up and ordered: "Jews learn to shoot" and added: "The Jewish Army will come into being.  In it there is hope, without it there is no expectation and there will be no survival."

And years later all the "pacifists" and all the "anti-militarists" ask themselves in naive wonderment: "How could we have done it without a Jewish army?"  then it is clear that it was the wise statesman, he who foresaw, who had spoken.

Such was Ze'ev Jabotinsky the Statesman.  And let us remember: the captain proves himself in a storm, the maestro in his music, and the statesman in his analysis, in his prescience.