For Jabotinsky's Yahrzeit: Jabotinsky enlists Tuvia in the Haganah

Publication Date09 Jul 2021
AuthorTzvi Fishman
When it comes to other heroes of Modern Zionism, people like Shlomo Ben Yosef, David Raziel, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Yair Stern, Abba Achimeir, and others, a large percentage of Jews know nothing at all.

The series of novels "Tevye in the Promised Land" is an entertaining way to learn about these larger-than-life fathers of the State of Israel and to become acquainted with their passionate ideals. In honor of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's yahrtzeit, here is a chapter from the historical fiction authored by this writer, Tzvi Fishman.

From the novel "Arise and Shine!"

Jabotinsky was convinced that the storm on the horizon was quickly approaching – not desert sands or locusts, but Jihad, sparked by Ishmael's old resentment of Isaac, and abetted by the British. With his usual singlemindedness and refusal to take no for an answer, he hounded the Jerusalem-based Zionist Commission with his foreboding premonitions, pointing out that the promises contained in the Balfour Declaration had not been fulfilled on the ground. On the contrary, the British Military Administration in Palestine demonstrated clear favoritism toward the Arabs, to the point,

Jabotinsky asserted, "The Arabs believe that the British would welcome a massacre of the Jews." With the unofficial approval of the local Zionist Committee, and with the 800 young Jewish men and women who responded to his call, Jabotinsky formed the "Haganah," the first Jewish defense force in the Land of Israel since the days of Bar Kochva. Veterans of the disbanded WWI Hebrew Brigade, and pioneers who had learned how to shoot as Shomerim guards in the settlements in the north, brought their experience to the youth of Jerusalem who rushed forward to join the new Jewish military legion.

Though he lacked the physical stature of Trumpeldor, the scholarly and bespectacled Jabotinsky was no-less charismatic. He was a soldier, writer, visionary, and passionate orator, all in one. Responding to Jabotinsky's promise that, "Tel Hai shall not fall again!" the youth of Jerusalem found a leader with a towering new spirit of Jewish valor and pride.

A full-fledged military training camp was established on the outskirts of the city, where recruits gathered to learn how to march and shoot, though there were only a few rifles to share. Without money to purchase grenades, the enthusiastic trainees threw rocks instead. "We may not be the most impressive army in the world, but we won't be an embarrassment," Jabotinsky asserted. "In our own country, no one is going to treat us as they do in the Diaspora!"

Once again, Tevye was making deliveries on his milk route in the Old City when Perchik Aronov appeared with the news that Jabotinsky wanted to see him.

"Jabotinsky wants to see me?" the milkman responded.

"Yes, you," Perchik insisted.

"I don't deliver milk outside the Old City. That's Yankela's district."

"He doesn't want milk," Perchik responded. "He wants to form a Jewish army."

Tevye glanced around cautiously.

"A Jewish army? To fight who?"

"Arab marauders."

That made sense. At least he wasn't talking about fighting the British, as Trumpeldor had hinted on the eve of his last battle.

"We can't let them stand in our way," Perchik continued.

"Stand in the way of what?" Tevye asked.

"In the way of Jewish destiny?"

Jewish destiny? What was that, Tevye wondered? He had heard of Jewish holidays, and Jewish prayer, and Yiddish stories, but what destiny did a Jew have other than to suffer in this world and to pray that he would have better luck in the World-to-Come?

"Didn't he already have a Jewish army with the Hebrew Brigade?" Tevye observed.

"That was a part of the British Army. This new army will be completely ours. Instead of receiving orders, we will give them. With our own army, and an economy built through the labor of our hands, we will have the foundations we need to be self-sufficient. Come with me to speak with Lieutenant Colonel Jabotinsky and he will tell you himself."

Tevye tugged on the rein of his mule and led him slowly down the alley.

"You've enlisted?" Tevye asked.

"I am to be one of the commanders," Perchik answered with a tinge of pride in his voice.

"Mazel tov. What about the kibbutz and your wife?"

"I have taken a leave of absence."

"From the kibbutz or from your wife?"

"From both if I have to. The welfare of the collective must be our prime concern, not our private lives."

Tevye nodded. That was the old Marxist dribble of the...

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