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Dr. Wise Withdraws His Support from the Revisionist Movement

March 12, 1935
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Declaring that “Revisionism is a surrender to the stark acceptance of the rightfulness of Fascism,” Dr. Stephen S. Wise in an address Sunday at the Free Synagogue at Carnegie Hall made it clear that he will not support Jabotinsky and the Revisionist movement.

“It is one thing,” Dr. Wise said, “to have stood by Jabotinsky when he was greatly serviceable to Zion and Zionism. It is another and very different thing to stand behind Revisionism today when I consider it greatly menacing not only to the security of Israel but to the very future of Zion and the Zionist movement.

“No one can truly say that there have not been days and years during which the founder and leader of the Revisionist movement was not immensely serviceable to Zion alike in war and in peace.”

Dr. Wise, citing Jabotinsky’s formation of a Jewish legion on the side of England and the Allied cause during the war and his heroic role during the savage attacks of the Arabs, said:


“But that is not all. It would be most unjust to Jabotinsky to deal with him today as if he were nothing more than a valiant soldier, only a heroic leader of a military force. There have been times in the last fifteen years when his services were of a high order and of the greatest value to Zionism, I mean, his vigorous and aggressive insistence upon the fulfillment by the mandatory government of its obligations when these obligations were insufficiently pressed upon the mandatory government by the Zionist Executive, though that is no longer true, and even by the party which is strongest today in the Zionist movement.

“Again that is not all. Jabotinsky has done even more than that. I believe that he has done much to hold Jewish youth within Jewish life, steadfast in allegiance, however erring in method, to the cause of Zion. When Jabotinsky stood for an honorable defense of Jewish life and property, I stood at his side. When Jabotinsky’s powerful voice was lifted up in protest against the restrictive policies and the inhibitive practices of the mandatory government, I stood at his side. And even at the last Zionist Congress and in a sense against the party for which today I seem to stand, I stood with the Revisionist party insofar as the Labor party did the unwise and injust thing of seeming to pass judgment upon the guilt of men who were charged with the murder of Dr. Arlosoroff, of men who at the time were lodged in Palestinian jails, a judgment, direct or indirect, from which the Zionist Congress should, I insist, have sedulously refrained.


“I feel that in justice to the facts, if not to myself, I must make clear that I do not today advocate the downright rejection of Revisionism because of any ill-will against its leaders whom I held and hold in personal affection and whose services I do not hesitate to say will be writ in the annals of the Jewish people.”

Amplifying his topic, “Why Zionists Cannot Accept Revisionism,” Dr. Wise explained:

“Revisionism on the ethical-social side runs counter to every ideal and idealism of the Jewish people and of the Jewish tradition. Revisionism does not mean peace in Palestine. Revisionism speaks of peace in Palestine but it actually means war in Palestine against the Jewish workers, war in Palestine upon the Jewish pioneers, above all, war in the name of truce upon all that for which Jews have stood and fought and died throughout the ages.

“I grieve to say it, for my battle is not with Jabotinsky but with Hitlerism and with Nazism, but the truth is that Revisionism is a species of Fascism in Yiddish or Hebrew, uttering its commands in the Hebrew language and therefore doubly baleful to us who believe that Hebrew should be the medium of a forward-looking hope, not of a dangerously reactionary movement. We zionists cannot accept Revisionism. We cannot support its leadership because we are resolved to be true to the Jewish tradition. For all that is best in Jewish life is permanently and indissolubly allied with the social and democratic ideals of our day and age even though for a time these have come under the displeasure and the shadow of the forces of wealth as is conscienceless and power that is limitless.”

Other reasons given by Rabbi Wise for his rejection of the Revisionist program are, “because Revisionism regards lightly and inadvisedly the claims of the Arabs in Palestine,” and “because the whole tradition of the Jewish people is against militarism.”

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