In Jabotinsky’s footsteps

Haleli Jabotinsky, the great-granddaughter of Zionist pioneer Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, is trying to motivate Canadian Jews to become closer to Israel.

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November 27, 2013 22:50
2 minute read.
Haleli Jabotinsky, great-granddaughter of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

Haleli Jabotinsky 370. (photo credit: JAFI)

Haleli Jabotinsky, the great-granddaughter of Zionist pioneer Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, is trying to motivate Canadian Jews to become closer to Israel and, she hopes, make aliya.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist movement, was a militant offshoot of Herzl’s political Zionism and is best known as the spiritual father of the Irgun – the militia credited by many with expelling the British from Mandatory Palestine – and for his travels throughout pre-Holocaust Europe, urging Jews to leave the Diaspora before it was too late. He was a journalist, orator and the driving force behind the creation of the British army’s Jewish Legion, which took part in the campaign to conquer Palestine from the Turks in World War I.

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Jabotinsky was a controversial figure who advocated the use of force and an “iron wall” in dealing with Arab opposition to the establishment of a Jewish State.

Following his example, Haleli has been working as a Jewish Agency Israel campus fellow at the Hillel in Montreal, Canada since August. The Israel campus fellows program brings young Israelis to campuses, for two years “in order to create an ongoing Israel presence for Jewish students and the broader community,” according to the agency.

A writer since high school, and currently a columnist with news website Israeli mako, she seems very much like her great-grandfather, who started out as a correspondent, columnist and poet for the Russian media. Having worked as a newspaper writer during her high school and college years, she said writing is in her family’s blood.

“[Jabotinsky] is in our genes,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

Growing up in the settlement of Timrat in the Jezreel Valley as one of five siblings, Haleli said she was raised with the “true essence of liberalism” in that she was encouraged to read, explore and think for herself.

“I find myself being a Revisionist because I think that he captured the essence of my political views and social views just like the one thing I feel most connected to,” she said. “Out of everything that I have read and heard throughout the years I connect the most with my great-grandfather’s writings and opinions.”

After graduating from Tel Aviv University, where she was a student activist studying Bible studies, Haleli decided to go abroad to serve the Jewish people there. And while her family history does not play a part in her day to day activities, she said, it did play a part in her decision to go abroad.

“I grew up very Zionistic and very proactive so I cannot say that my great-grandfather is the reason why I went out to do this shlichut, but I can say that growing up in a Zionist family that brought me up as a very opinionated person definitely held a huge part in me wanting to do things on the ground.”

Asked if her work in encouraging aliya reminds her of her great-grandfather’s tours throughout Europe telling the local Jews that “Either you liquidate the Diaspora or the Diaspora will liquidate you,” she replied that Jabotinsky was the “ultimate shaliach.”


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