Labor Zionism, although by far the largest organization in the
Yishuv (the prestate Jewish community in Palestine), did not go
unchallenged. The largest and most vocal opposition came from
a Russian-born Jewish intellectual residing in Odessa, Vladimir
Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky was both a renowned writer and the first
military hero of the Zionist revival; he was commander of the
Jewish Legion. While residing in Italy, Jabotinsky became attached
to the notions of romantic nationalism espoused by the great Italian
nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi. Like Garibaldi, Jabotinsky viewed
nationalism as the highest value to which humans can aspire. He
called for massive Jewish immigration to Palestine and the immediate
declaration of Jewish statehood in all of biblical Palestine.
He viewed the world in Machiavellian terms: military and political
power ultimately determine the fate of peoples and nations. Therefore,
he called for the establishment of a well-armed Jewish self-defense
Jabotinsky sharply criticized Ben-Gurion's single-minded focus
on creating a Jewish working-class movement, which he felt distracted
the Zionist movement from the real issue at hand, Jewish statehood.
He gained wide popularity in Poland, where his criticisms of socialism
and his calls for Jewish self-defense appealed to a Jewish community
of small entrepreneurs hounded as a result of anti-Semitism.
Data as of December 1988