“That Jewish Belief in the Living God of Israel”: Jewish Tradition in the Thought of Ze’ev Jabotinsky

Elad Nahshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scholars who have dealt with Jabotinsky’s attitude toward Jewish tradition have shared the premise that he was a secular thinker who went through a significant ideological shift in the 1930s, or at least displayed a more favorable approach to religion thereafter for political reasons. However, close examination of his early writings shows that almost all the views he expressed in the 1930s are to be found decades before. Hence, Jabotinsky should be viewed as a thinker who for most of his life held a multifaceted, yet fairly consistent approach to tradition: criticizing Jewish halakha and calling for its reform, while considering religion a great moral force for human progress, describing Jewish tradition as integral to national culture, past and future, and to a certain extent, even romanticizing religious experience. This inclination establishes Jabotinsky as a moderate-secularist easily able to ally himself politically with Religious-Zionists while remaining a non-observant Jew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-95
Number of pages20
JournalIsrael Studies
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Indiana University. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Jewish tradition
  • Secularism
  • Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky
  • the New Zionist Organization
  • the Zionist Revisionist Movement

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