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My Answer to Dr. Wise

March 17, 1935
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The present article by Mr. Jabotinsky, leader of the Revisionists, is in answer to an address last Sunday by Dr. Stephen S. Wise in which he announced his reasons for no longer supporting the Revisionist movement.

Long ago, an unkind American Jew told me this about Dr. Stephen Wise: “He has one great quality—he says what he thinks; but he has one great defect—he doesn’t think.” I now begin to see how such an opinion, rather widespread in America, could have arisen. For “thinking” really implies also inquiring, and thoroughly inquiring; what is known as “documentation.” Dr. Wise, in his recent attack on Revisionism, has been singularly careless about consulting authentic sources or documents to get his facts.

“Revisionism demands sacrifices from Labor only, but not from Capital?” Our Vienna conference resolution of 1928, which proclaimed the Arbitration principle, clearly says, black on white: The Board of Arbitration shall have the right to fix both the minimum of fair wages for Labor and the maximum of fair profit on capital. The resolution, further, outlaws both strike and ###out as well as (“boycott of Jewish labor by Jewish employers”). Besides the principle of compulsory arbitration, by its very nature, is bound to hit both ways: honest arbitrators sometimes rule against the workers’ demands and sometimes against the employers’.

One might fear bias if it were a question of arbitrators appointed by a government but in our scheme, the arbitrators are to be elected by common consent of both the workers’ and the employers’ organizations. Those who have the habit of thinking before they speak would see the difference.

Elimination of strikes is “reactionary?” Let me recommend to Dr. Wise, for his documentation, one of the volumes he seems to have overlooked. A good authority on what is reactionary and what is progressive is the League of Nations: and, insofar as social problems are concerned, particu#arly its international labor office in Geneva. (run mostly by Socialists). This office published in 1933 a report of some 700 pages under the title “Conciliation and Arbitration in Industrial Disputes.” Now observe how this book defines “the general purpose” of that portion of the League of Nations Covenant “on which the International Labor organization is based”: “the improvement of the economic and social position of the workers, and the removal of the existing antagonism between employers and workers by peaceful means.” And further, in general conclusions, “conciliations and arbitration are thus a symbol of that idea of the community of interests between workers, employers is the basis of modern labor law and also of the constitution of the international labor organization.” (Page 141.)

A few more remarks — which would not be necessary had there been a superficial effort at thinking before speaking:

1. The question whether it be liberal or unliberal for the State to “prohibit” strikes has no bearing on the Revisionist scheme. The Palestinian State is not to be asked for any intervention whatsoever. It is a matter of a free voluntary covenant between Jews and Jews. If both sides agree, well and good; if not, there will be no covenant; and even if all did agree, but a minority, however small, would still prefer to go on class-warring, it would (to my regret) be free to do so.

Equally safe, under that scheme is the principle of “organized labor”: no covenant can obviously have any value unless signed in the name of organizations. Still safer is the principle of “collective bargaining between all the workers and all the employers of one national community.

2. Safest of all is, under this scheme, the principle of “social justice.” Nobody can seriously and honestly maintain that strike and lockouts are methods of achieving “justice”; it is the side which has the largest war chest, not the side which has the fairest case, that wins in a strike or in a lockout. “Justice” excludes settlement of any strife by a direct clash between the parties: “justice” begins with the appointment of an impartial tribunal. Can Dr. Wise cavil at this elementary truth? What, then, are in his opinion those “Jewish ideals”—he involves: stopping work in Jewish workshops of a Jewish country, scaring “pickets,” calling each other “class enemies” instead of going to a judge? Where, in what Scriptures, has Dr. Wise found authority for such a conception of “Jewish social ideals?” The answer is unfortunately obvious: he just omitted the little formality of research before speech.

But there also is a comical side to this arbitration controversy here in America. Before the end of this month the left wing Histadruth is to ratify, by a referendum, the “Labor Agreement” Mr. Ben Gurion and I signed in London; and that agreement culminates in the pledge to promote a Covenant implying — black on white — “obligatory arbitration.” What will these Tuxedo-clad strikefans of America do if the Histadruth ratifies the agreement?

Another brilliant sample: “To Revisionism, as to Fascism, the state is everything and the individual nothing.” Where, in what resolution or declaration or authoritative article have you read it? Personally I hate the very idea of a “totalitarian State,” whether Communist or Fascist, call them all “Polizei-Staat,” and prefer old-fashioned parliamentarism however clumsy or inefficient; and ninety-nine per cent of my hardy comrades share this attitude. What Dr. Wise obviously mistook for his bogey is the fact that we maintain and will go on maintaining—that the striving for the creation of a Jewish State should be, to all those who accept it as their ideal, miles above any class or individual interest. But so did Garibaldi hold the creation of the Italian State paramount, so did Lincoln the unity of America; which does not mean that they wanted an Italy or an America where the State would be everything and the individual nothing. To those who think before speaking, the difference should again be clear.

As to the charge that Revisionism wants “an Arabless Palestine”—in other words, the eviction of Arabs from Palestine—I very seriously warn Dr. Wise and any possible imitators of his: if I hear anything of this kind again, I will demand a Court of Honor, on the strength of that other London agreement which prohibits “aililoth”—and “alila,” in good colloquial Hebrew, means calumny. Revisionism, in all its documents, official and unofficial, has always contended that in Palestine there is room for all the Jews who will ever need it and for all the Arabs with their progeny. But (to those who think before speaking) one thing ought to be clear even without “documents,” a party which stands for a “Jewish majority in Palestine” obviously foresees the presence of a “minority.”

There is, however, one point on which I should prefer not to deny Dr. Wise’s “documentation” but much rather simply to ask for his source and authority in making such a statement: this is his emphatic affirmation that it is “arrant nonsense or unforgivable to hold that the Jewish labor party is introducing class war in Palestine.” This is really cheering news, and I should love to know who authorized Dr. Wise, on behalf of the “Mapai” to dissociate that party from the class war principle. No, say—is it really true? Hurrah! Shall I cable the glad news to Palestine? “The Jewish Palestine Labor Party announces via New York that it no longer adheres to the class war idea.” Only I fear that the cable would provoke an angry denial; that the beautiful dream is premature, and that for the present we shall have to be satisfied with the reality— with the same phenomenon of eloquence dispensing with enquiry.

The present article by Mr. Jabotinsky, leader of the Revisionists, is in answer to an address last Sunday by Dr. Stephen S. Wise in which he announced his reasons for no longer supporting the Revisionist movement.

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