More than Poetry and Music: How and Why the Secular Jabotinsky Adopted Religiosity as a Solution to the Crisis of the Liberal
Response to Ofri Ilany, »Singling Out: Towards Progressive Politics of Chosenness«
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Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, is largely portrayed in the research literature as a committed or even radical secularist. In this view, it was his successor as leader of the movement, Menachem Begin, who brought a pro-religious dimension into right-wing Zionist ideology, a combination that continues to be influential today in Israel's ruling party, Likud. This essay argues that, while Jabotinsky was and remained alienated from traditional observance, his attitude toward religious – as spirituality, or religiosity – and its role in national societies began to change in the 1930s. The metamorphosis was spurred by the rise of racism and prejudice in European national movements. Jabotinsky came to believe that religious values needed to be understood, and could be used, as a spiritual moor to bolster the human spirit, and instill moral and liberal values.