THE ETHICS OF THE IRON WALL
By Vladimir Jabotinsky
(‘The Jewish Standard’, 5/9/1941 (London). Originally Published in Rassviet (Paris) 11/11/1923 as a continuation of the previous article.)
Let us go back to the Helsingfors Programme. Since I am one of those who helped to draft it, I am naturally not disposed to question the justice of the principles advocated there. The programme guarantees citizenship equality, and national self-determination. I am firmly convinced that any impartial judge will accept this programme as the ideal basis for peaceful and neighbourly collaboration between two nations.
But it is absurd to expect the Arabs to have the mentality of an impartial judge; for in this conflict they are not the judges; but one of the contending parties. And after all, our chief question is whether the Arabs, even if they believed in peaceful collaboration they would agree to have any “neighbours”, even good neighbours, in the country which they regard as their own. Not even those who try to move us with high-sounding phrases will dare to deny that national homogeneity is more convenient than natural diversity. So why should a nation that is perfectly content with its isolation admit to its country even good neighbours in any considerable number? I want neither your honey nor your sting”, is a reasonable answer.
But apart from this fundamental difficulty, why must it be the Arabs who should accept the Helsingfors Programme, or, in that matter any programme for a State which has a mixed national population? To make such a demand is to ask for the impossible. The Springer theory is not more than 30 years old. And no nation, not even the most civilised, has yet agreed to apply this theory honestly in practice. Even the Czechs, under the leadership of Masaryk, the teacher of all autonomists, could not would not do it.
Among the Arabs, even their intellectuals have never heard of this theory. But these same intellectuals would know that a minority always suffers everywhere: the Christians in Turkey, the Moslems in India, the Irish under the British, the Poles and Czechs under the Germans, now the Germans under the Poles and Czechs, and so forth, without end. So that one must be intoxicated with rhetoric to expect the Arabs to believe that the Jews, of all the people in the world, will alone prove able, or will, at least, honestly intend to realise an idea that has not succeeded with other nations who are with much greater authority.
If I insist on this point, it is not because I want the Jews, too, to abandon the Helsigfors Programme as the basis of a future modus vivendi. On the contrary we- at least the writer of these lines – believe in this programme as much as we believe in our ability to give effect to it in political life, though all precedents have failed. But it would be useless now to the Arabs. They would not understand, and they would not place any trust in its principles: they would not be able to appreciate them.
And since it is useless, it must also be harmful. It is incredible what political simpletons Jews are. They shut their eyes to one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not “meet halfway” those who do not want to meet you.