Comparisons with Weimar

David Biale

  • The False Prophet. Rabbi Meir Kahane: From FBI Informant to Knesset Member by Robert Friedman
    Faber, 282 pp, £14.99, June 1990, ISBN 0 571 14842 5

The formation of a new Israeli government made up of the ultra-nationalist Right and the ultra-Orthodox is a propitious moment to reflect on the role of the radical Right in the history of Zionism. The state of Israel was created by left-wing elements, led by the social-democratic Labour Party. The Revisionists were the right wing of Zionism prior to 1948, but they were a small constellation in the Zionist firmament, a minority opposition in a largely socialist movement. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionists, articulated an anti-socialist, anti-liberal view of the world animated by Social Darwinism, militarism and Futurism. Jabotinsky’s party encompassed both conservative nationalist and radical elements. While Jabotinsky himself was cosmopolitan and often politically pragmatic, his followers, among the Stern group and the Irgun, were much more xenophobic and extreme.

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