It was originally published in Russian , the language in which Jabotinsky wrote for the Russian press. He wrote the essay after the British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill prohibited Zionist settlement on the east bank of the Jordan River , and formed the Zionist Revisionist party after writing it. Jabotinsky argued that the Palestinian Arabs would not agree to a Jewish majority in Palestine , and that "Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population — behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach. A week following the publication of this essay, Jabotinsky followed with "The Ethics of the Iron Wall," in which he argued that morality comes before everything else, and that Zionism is "moral and just," since it subscribes to "national self-determination" as a "sacred principle," which Arabs may also enjoy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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I am reputed to be an enemy of the Arabs, who wants to have them ejected from Palestine, and so forth. It is not true. Emotionally, my attitude to the Arabs is the same as to all other nations — polite indifference. Politically, my attitude is determined by two principles. First of all, I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine.
There will always be two nations in Palestine — which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority. And secondly, I belong to the group that once drew up the Helsingfors Programme , the programme of national rights for all nationalities living in the same State. In drawing up that programme, we had in mind not only the Jews, but all nations everywhere, and its basis is equality of rights.
This seems to me a fairly peaceful credo. But it is quite another question whether it is always possible to realise a peaceful aim by peaceful means.
Now, after this introduction, we may proceed to the subject. There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future. I say this with such conviction, not because I want to hurt the moderate Zionists. I do not believe that they will be hurt. Except for those who were born blind, they realised long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting "Palestine" from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.
My readers have a general idea of the history of colonisation in other countries. I suggest that they consider all the precedents with which they are acquainted, and see whether there is one solitary instance of any colonisation being carried on with the consent of the native population. There is no such precedent. The native populations, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilised or savage. And it made no difference whatever whether the colonists behaved decently or not.
Yet the native population fought with the same ferocity against the good colonists as against the bad. Every native population, civilised or not, regards its lands as its national home, of which it is the sole master, and it wants to retain that mastery always; it will refuse to admit not only new masters but, even new partners or collaborators.
This is equally true of the Arabs. Our Peace-mongers are trying to persuade us that the Arabs are either fools, whom we can deceive by masking our real aims, or that they are corrupt and can be bribed to abandon to us their claim to priority in Palestine , in return for cultural and economic advantages. I repudiate this conception of the Palestinian Arabs. Culturally they are five hundred years behind us, they have neither our endurance nor our determination; but they are just as good psychologists as we are, and their minds have been sharpened like ours by centuries of fine-spun logomachy.
We may tell them whatever we like about the innocence of our aims, watering them down and sweetening them with honeyed words to make them palatable, but they know what we want, as well as we know what they do not want.
They feel at least the same instinctive jealous love of Palestine, as the old Aztecs felt for ancient Mexico, and the Sioux for their rolling Prairies. To imagine, as our Arabophiles do, that they will voluntarily consent to the realisation of Zionism, in return for the moral and material conveniences which the Jewish colonist brings with him, is a childish notion, which has at bottom a kind of contempt for the Arab people; it means that they despise the Arab race, which they regard as a corrupt mob that can be bought and sold, and are willing to give up their fatherland for a good railway system.
There is no justification for such a belief. It may be that some individual Arabs take bribes. But that does not mean that the Arab people of Palestine as a whole will sell that fervent patriotism that they guard so jealously, and which even the Papuans will never sell.
Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonised. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of "Palestine" into the "Land of Israel. Some of us have induced ourselves to believe that all the trouble is due to misunderstanding — the Arabs have not understood us, and that is the only reason why they resist us; if we can only make it clear to them how moderate our intentions really are, they will immediately extend to us their hand in friendship.
This belief is utterly unfounded and it has been exploded again and again. I shall recall only one instance of many. A few years ago, when the late Mr. Sokolow was on one of his periodic visits to Palestine, he addressed a meeting on this very question of the "misunderstanding. The Zionists are making a fuss about nothing. There is no misunderstanding. All that Mr. Sokolow says about the Zionist intentions is true, but the Arabs know that without him. Of course, the Zionists cannot now be thinking of driving the Arabs out of the country, or oppressing them, not do they contemplate a Jewish Government.
Quite obviously, they are now concerned with one thing only- that the Arabs should not hinder their immigration. The Zionists assure us that even immigration will be regulated strictly according to the economic needs of Palestine. The Arabs have never doubted that: it is a truism, for otherwise there can be no immigration. This Arab editor was actually willing to agree that Palestine has a very large potential absorptive capacity, meaning that there is room for a great many Jews in the country without displacing a single Arab.
There is only one thing the Zionists want, and it is that one thing that the Arabs do not want, for that is the way by which the Jews would gradually become the majority, and then a Jewish Government would follow automatically, and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews; and a minority status is not a good thing, as the Jews themselves are never tired of pointing out.
So there is no "misunderstanding". The Zionists want only one thing, Jewish immigration; and this Jewish immigration is what the Arabs do not want. This statement of the position by the Arab editor is so logical, so obvious, so indisputable, that everyone ought to know it by heart, and it should be made the basis of all our future discussions on the Arab question.
It does not matter at all which phraseology we employ in explaining our colonising aims, Herzl's or Sir Herbert Samuel's. Colonisation carries its own explanation, the only possible explanation, unalterable and as clear as daylight to every ordinary Jew and every ordinary Arab. Colonisation can have only one aim, and Palestine Arabs cannot accept this aim. It lies in the very nature of things, and in this particular regard nature cannot be changed. We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine.
And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say "non" and withdraw from Zionism. Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else pive population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population — behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.
That is our Arab policy; not what we should be, but what it actually is, whether we admit it or not. What need, otherwise, of the Balfour Declaration? Or of the Mandate? Their value to us is that outside Power has undertaken to create in the country such conditions of administration and security that if the native population should desire to hinder our work, they will find it impossible.
And we are all of us ,without any exception, demanding day after day that this outside Power, should carry out this task vigorously and with determination. In this matter there is no difference between our "militarists" and our "vegetarians". We all demand that there should be an iron wall. Yet we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about "agreement" which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall, but discussions.
Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous. And that is why itis not only a pleasure but a duty to discredit it and to demonstrate that it is both fantastic and dishonest. Two brief remarks:. But that is a question that we should have settled before we became Zionists. Actually we have settled that question, and in the affirmative. We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmet agree with it or not.
There is no other morality. In the second place, this does not mean that there cannot be any agreement with the Palestine Arabs. What is impossible is a voluntary agreement. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people. And when a living people yields in matters of such a vital character it is only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall.
Not till then will they drop their extremist leaders, whose watchword is "Never! Then we may expect them to discuss honestly practical questions, such as a guarantee against Arab displacement, or equal rights for Arab citizen, or Arab national integrity.
And when that happens, I am convinced that we Jews will be found ready to give them satisfactory guarantees, so that both peoples can live together in peace, like good neighbours.
But the only way to obtain such an agreement, is the iron wall, which is to say a strong power in Palestine that is not amenable to any Arab pressure. In other words, the only way to reach an agreement in the future is to abandon all idea of seeking an agreement at present. Let us go back to the Helsingfors Programme. Since I am one of those who helped to draft it, I am naturally not disposed to question the justice of the principles advocated there.
The programme guarantees citizenship equality, and national self-determination. I am firmly convinced that any impartial judge will accept this programme as the ideal basis for peaceful and neighbourly collaboration between two nations. But it is absurd to expect the Arabs to have the mentality of an impartial judge; for in this conflict they are not the judges; but one of the contending parties.
And after all, our chief question is whether the Arabs, even if they believed in peaceful collaboration they would agree to have any "neighbours", even good neighbours, in the country which they regard as their own. Not even those who try to move us with high-sounding phrases will dare to deny that national homogeneity is more convenient than natural diversity.
So why should a nation that is perfectly content with its isolation admit to its country even good neighbours in any considerable number? I want neither your honey nor your sting", is a reasonable answer. But apart from this fundamental difficulty, why must it be the Arabs who should accept the Helsingfors Programme, or, in that matter any programme for a State which has a mixed national population? To make such a demand is to ask for the impossible. The Springer theory is not more than 30 years old.
The Iron Wall
I am reputed to be an enemy of the Arabs, who wants to have them ejected from Palestine, and so forth. It is not true. Emotionally, my attitude to the Arabs is the same as to all other nations — polite indifference. Politically, my attitude is determined by two principles. First of all, I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine. There will always be two nations in Palestine — which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority. And secondly, I belong to the group that once drew up the Helsingfors Programme , the programme of national rights for all nationalities living in the same State.
An iron wall – revisioning Jabotinsky in light of Trump
In the s, hard-line Zionists developed the doctrine of the Iron Wall: negotiations with the Arabs must always be from a position of military strength. This doctrine, argues Avi Shlaim, became central to Israeli policy; dissenters were marginalized and many opportunities lost. Drawing on a great deal of new material and interviews with many key participants, Shlaim places Israel 's political and military actions under an uncompromising lens. The result is a fresh and informed account of one of the world's most intractable conflicts of modern times.