Zhabotinsky, Vladimir

Zhabotinsky, Vladimir [Жаботинський; Žabotinskii] (Jabotinsky, Ze’ev), b 18 October 1880 in Odesa, d 4 August 1940 near Hunter, New York State, USA. Writer, journalist, and Zionist activist. He worked in Bern and Rome as a foreign correspondent for the newspapers Odesskii listok and Odesskie novosti and then continued his journalistic activity in Odesa, where he became an active Zionist. From 1903 he lived in Saint Petersburg, where he espoused a strong Zionist viewpoint in the journals Evreiskaia zhizn’ and Razsvet and undertook extensive organizational work among Jewish journalists and politicians. With the outbreak of the First World War Zhabotinsky approached Great Britain with a proposal for the creation of a Jewish Legion, in the belief that such an organization would assist in the eventual creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His idea was accepted, although it did not have the impact he had anticipated. After the war Zhabotinsky continued to write and promote the idea of massive Jewish emigration to Palestine.

Zhabotinsky's writings were largely devoted to the national question. He was favorably disposed to Ukrainian national concerns, which he saw as compatible with Jewish ones, and he developed links with Ukrainian activists. Those links caused a falling out with Zionist leaders in 1921, after he had negotiated an arrangement with his friend Maksym Slavinsky (a representative of the Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic) to have a Jewish gendarmery follow an anticipated invasion force (led by Symon Petliura) into Ukraine in order to protect the Jewish population from possible pogroms. Ultimately the controversy prompted Zhabotinsky to resign from the executive of the World Zionist Organization. A two-volume biography of Zhabotinsky by Joseph B. Schechtman was published in New York (1956, 1961). A collection of his works was published in Ukrainian translation as Vybrani statti z natsional’noho pytannia (Selected Articles on the National Question, 1983).

Brenner, Lenni. The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir (London 1984)
Schechtman, Joseph B. The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, 2 vols (1956, 1961); repub as The Life and Times of Vladimir Jabotinsky, 2 vols (Silver Spring, Maryland 1986)
Kleiner, Israel. From Nationalism to Universalism: Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky and the Ukrainian Question (Edmonton–Toronto 2000)

Andrij Makuch

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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