Jerusalem (May. 10)
Uri Zvi Greenberg, considered one of Israel’s greatest poets and frequently compared to Chaim Nachman Bialik, was buried today on Mount Olives. He died last Friday in Tel Aviv at the age of 87. Greenberg had requested in his will that there be no state funeral nor any eulogies. He left behind him a rich legacy of fiery and passionate nationalist poetry.
Greenberg was born in Bialy Kamien in eastern Galicia on Jan. 10, 1894. He was a scion of the renowned Strelisk-Stretin Hasidic dynasty. In 1915 he published his first book in Yiddish, “Somewhere in the Field.” In 1924, at the age of 30, he immigrated to Palestine and a year later, when the Histadrut newspaper, Davar, was founded, he became a regular contributor to its columns. Four years later, however, with the outbreak of Arab hostilities toward the Jews, he split from the labor movement and joined the Revisionists.
REGARDED HIMSELF AS A DIVINE MESSENGER
Greenberg’s differences with the labor movement intensified in later years. He firmly believed that the return to Zion was the fulfillment of the vision of the Prophets and he felt that he could not accept political compromises in the implementation of those visions. He later regarded himself as divine messenger to warn the Jews of Palestine of the visions which he believed they could not see themselves. Imbued with this zeal, Greenberg was often bitter and frustrated by his failure to reach the hearts and minds of his readers.
Until World War II he divided his time between Palestine and Poland. He published several volumes of poetry in which he sharply criticized the lack of action on the part of the Jews in Palestine in the face of Arab aggression and also predicted the European Holocaust. He also predicted the end of the British Mandate and the eventual takeover of the Temple Mount by Israeli soldiers.
VARIED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
During the war Greenberg remained silent. Afterwards he published his book, “The Streets of the River,” in which he dealt with the trauma of the Holocaust. He was a Herut member of the Israel’s first Knesset but resigned from the parliament four years later. In subsequent years his relations with Menachem Begin, who until Likud’s electoral victory in 1977 was in the opposition, cooled considerably des-
pite the fact that both men shared the views of Revisionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky and were both members of the Irgun.
Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War in 1967 was interpreted by Greenberg as a fulfillment of his visions and prophecies. He was uncompromising in his nationalist views and rejected all suggestions of territorial compromises. He pleaded repeatedly for a national revival of Eretz Yisrael.
Greenberg frequently complained that people in Israel, particularly the younger generation, did not accept the historic challenges of the times. He was particularly critical of the political leadership of the Labor Party and often charged that democracy was tantamount to anarchy. He suggested that the Knesset be dissolved and that all political forces be united in a national emergency government.