Huberman Jabotinsky

  • Issue: December 1990
  • Designer: R. Beckman
  • Stamp size: 40 x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 83
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Born in Odessa (Russia) in October 1880 and died near New York in August 1940, Ze'ev Jabotinsky was one of the most outstanding leaders of the Zionist movement, following the death of the prophet of the Jewish state, Dr. theodor Herzl. Jabotinsky was a statesman, one ot the most brilliant Orators of the time, an astute reporter and a writer, poet and translator.

He was among the leaders of the Jewish defence movement in Tzarist Russia, and founded the Jewish Legion in the First World War. He served as Commander of the Hagana in Jerusalem during the Arab riots (1920) and became a "Prisoner of Zion". He was also a member of the Zionist Executive and among the heads of the Keren Hayesod. In 1925 he founded the Zionist-Revisionist Movement (Hatzohar). Political differences and refusal of the Zionist Congress to allow his demand to define the ultimate Objective of Zionism as being the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel, forced him and his comrades to resign from the Movement and, in 1935, to found the New Zionist Organization. He served as its President and from 1937 to 1940 as Commander of the Etzel (Underground Fighters) in Palestine.

The Government of Israel has declared 5751 (1990/91) as Jabotinsky Year, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death, following 5750 (1989/90), the year dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of the rebirth of the Hebrew language.

The stamp, and its tab, now issued by the Philatelic Service of the Posts Authority, highlights, amongst other things, the connection between Jabotinsky and the Hebrew language and its rebirth, mainly among Diaspora Jews.

Jabotinsky saw in the Hebrew language "a national tongue which came into being together with the Jewish people and which has accompanied it, in one form or another, throughout its long history" ("Betar Ideology", 1933). In the poem "The Vow", he calls Hebrew "a language living in age, in grief and in anger; a language of work and of thought; my son's language; an eternal link between the song of Tel Hal and the marvellous thunder of Sinai".

As early as 1913, in his lecture on "the Language of Education" at the Zionist congress in Vienna, he declared: "From this day forth anyone who seeks to be active in Zionist leadership will be obliged to know the national tongue, since without it he will not be able to take part in our Zionist meetings".

Most of his fellow delegates at the Congress regarded this demand of Jabotinsky's as mere lip-service to the idea. But close to his death, he returned to this theme, claiming in an article; published in "Hamashkif" in April 1940, "The apes of Zionist achievement is decidedly the rebirth of our language - and its common use".

Jabotinsky saw in the Hebrew language and its ongoing proliferation, the connection between our distant past and the rebirth of our people. In his eulogy on Bialik, he defined the Hebrew language as "the language of the Ten Commandments and of the Song of Moses, the language of the Prayers for Dew and for Rain, the language of Isaiah, the forgotten and never-forgotten language, which was buried long ago and which still lives forever - that is the language of Bialik".

Throughout his years of political activity, Jabotinsky was highly involved in a variety of projects concerned with national Hebrew education in the countries of the Diaspora. He regarded this education, which made Hebrew in its Sephardic pronunciation the language of instruction for all disciplines, as part and parcel of his efforts to establish a Jewish state, and he constantly lobbied on its behalf. He demanded that Hebrew kindergartens be established, and then elementary and high schools, and, from the beginning of the twenties, a Hebrew University.

In the "Tarbut" system of Hebrew schools that were set up in Eastern European countries after the first World War, Jabotinsky saw "the driving force of the Hebrew spirit and the laboratory for creating the new Hebrew character". Jabotinsky worked to recruit Hebrew teachers and to put together Hebrew textbooks and other reading materials. As was common practice for foreign educational systems in those days, he suggested translating foreign textbooks into Hebrew, including reading-books for children. At the same time, while looking for ways of making the language easier to teach, he suggested that, in the initial stage, Latin script should be used and also suggested teaching the reading of Hebrew without using the vowel-points which he thought should be replaced by letters. In order to bring young students closer to the language he composed the first Hebrew atlas ever to be published in the world. He wrote a dictionary for adults and a reader of 200 words for Jewish Legion volunteers in the First World War and a Hebrew textbook "613 Words" in Latin script which was published in 1949. He was concerned about the correct Hebrew pronunciation and published a booklet on this subject, having taught correct Hebrew diction to the actors of "Habima" Hebrew Theatre, while they were in Berlin.

Jabotinsky had called for the setting up of a Hebrew University in Jerusalem to enable young Jews from the Diaspora and Palestine to obtain a higher education, particularly because at that time Jews had little possibility of being accepted to the European universities. At the same time he was greatly distressed and showered much criticism on the establishment of individual, expensive research institutes, which were not capable of attracting first-class scientific minds, on Mt. Scopus. He believed that efforts should be concentrated instead on establishing a proper university which would gradually expand and be able to absorb more and more young Jews.

Jabotinsky initiated the establishment of a fund for the translation of classic works of world literature into Hebrew and himself translated Giovagnoli's "Spartacus", the poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Verlaine and Edmond Rostand, part of Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy" and Goethe's "Faust". These, and poems about Zion which he wrote himself, contributed much to Hebrew literature and poetry. Throughout his public life, Jabotinsky promoted the Hebrew language, not only as a subject of scientific-linguistic interest but turned it into one of the key factors in his political and national struggle.

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50th anniversary of the death of Ze'ev Jabotinsky