The popular image of the Jews who took part in battles for black civil rights is of liberal activists and idealistic college students. Yet several important early civil rights efforts in the United States and South Africa were undertaken by—of all people—officers of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, the Jewish underground militia in British Mandatory Palestine.
This week’s 70th anniversary of the passing of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism and the Irgun, is an occasion to reflect on Jabotinsky’s little-known legacy of anti-racism.
There were times, when I was one of three students that would stay awake late enough to hear Rabbi Shlomo Riskin when he would stop by our beit midrash at Yeshivat Hamivtar to give a late night class. What I was so profoundly moved by was the fact that Rav Riskin would speak to the three of us as if there were 200 people present. He offered his normal passionate and engaging class since we were the right people in the room.
These are the Nine Days of the Three Weeks, when Jerusalemís melancholy comes naturally. These are the Eight Weeks of the final illusion, the eerie wait between Camp David and the Palestinian promise to proclaim a state in September. There are rumors of war. The doves have flown.