Ze'ev Jabotinsky on Antisemitism


"I would like to point out one permanent assignment that is entrusted to each of us, old and young, men and women, educated and ignorant, as a group and as individuals; this assignment is the defense of our people's honor.

All too easily we allow this honor to be impinged. So far have we become used to humiliation, that in a simple curse we no longer find insult, and just say to ourselves: 'thank you for only swearing at us – after all you could also have beaten us!' Everywhere, even in public places, our ears pick up vulgar outbursts against our people, and we pretend that we did not hear them, and console ourselves that 'they did not mean us'.

This is a lie: It is always aimed at us, and we must respond. We must end this abuse of ourselves, at all costs. And it is very easy. They spit in our faces without fear, 'in passing', for no reason – not because our insulters are blessed with courage and want to pick a fight with us, but because this pleasure is so cheap for them: they will spit at us and go on their way, and nothing will happen.

We must accustom them to the thought that from now on this pleasure will come at a hefty cost. A new commandment must enter our hearts: that even where there is only one Jew, the word 'Zhid' must not be heard without response. Wise people will come and try to dissuade us: 'You are weak – what can you do?' But it is not our purpose to win in every single incident. Our objective – to create about us the belief that a slur on our national feelings is no longer what it once was, a small diversion free of cost – but will rather, with an absolute certainty and a mathematical precision, result in a sharp and unpleasant confrontation

It is the hour to prove what we truly are: A proud people, or filthy scum whose only calling is to be trodden upon."

-Ze'ev Jabotinsky, What are we to do?, published 1905

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