Orwell, Jabotinsky, Fascism and Islam - Part 4

The Arab Riots focussed Jabotinsky's attention on the practical urgency of saving European Jews from being murdered and securing for them their national home. The Helsingfors Programme was immediately to hand. If it was good enough to understand Russia, it was good enough to understand Palestine

Orwell, Jabotinsky, Fascism and Islam - Part 4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

No doubt, what I say below will be revised after I have read the two biographies of Ze'ev Jabotinsky that I have just found. I share my thoughts as a work in progress.

The Iron Wall anticipates that the iron wall will eventually propel moderate Arab leaders to the fore to replace hitherto leaders who only ever said, "Never!" "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."

Ze'ev Jabotinsky's optimism here seems almost comical in light of what we have since seen about Muslim deception and their determination to annihilate Israel and the Jews: the Oslo Accords; “Palestinians” proudly raising their children to one day kill themselves killing Jews; ISIS believing that after the Final Battle at Dabiq, their focus will shift to Jerusalem; Iran establishing “Al-Quds Day” ("Jerusalem Day,"), a day of stoking the clamour for Jew-killing;[1] Iran raising its IRGC-Quds Force, a jihad super-army, and adopting as the country's national slogan, “Death to Israel!”; the Arab League turning the EU into an arm of both its jihad against Europe and its jihad against Israel; the OIC turning the UN into an anti-Israel propaganda machine and world intimidator; the UN permitting its refugee agencies to become instruments of jihad against Israel; and British police officers dancing in the streets chanting, "Free, free, Palestine!"

Jabotinsky might have had the excuse that none of these clues were there when he wrote The Iron Wall. Contemporary Jews have all the advantages that Jabotinsky did not have, yet manage to bring mounting disasters upon themselves. Israeli leaders, with the "peace movement" behind them, putting the cart before the horse, offer the "Palestinians" every possible guarantee in the vain hope of securing moderate outcomes. Of course such outcomes will never materialise. The fact that they keep doing this, despite failing time after time after time, negotiation after negotiation after negotiation, ceasefire after ceasefire after ceasefire, makes a mockery of themselves and their pseudo-morality. As Jabotinsky puts it:

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. (My emphasis)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, for all his “blind spot” about Islam, under different circumstances would have seen Islam for what it was, and developed an even more incisive position on the Arab Muslim question. Between the collapse of the caliphate centred on Turkey and the rise of the caliphate centred on Iran, Muslims saw first the Nazis, then the Soviets, as their saviours, and were ready to go to such infidels, turban in hand, to beg for help. Today, they no longer have need of such humiliation. The one ready to attack on all fronts, soon to be equipped with nuclear weapons, is Muslim, albeit heretical. Alhamdulillah! This time, Allah will be pleased, insha-Allah. This time, they will kill all the Jews.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky might not have seen that the extermination facing the Jews in Europe, also faced them wherever Muslims rule or had ruled, especially in Palestine, since the offenders were Jews, their worst and eternal enemies, regardless of nations, colonies or high principles of equality, good neighbourliness and self-determination. As far as Jabotinsky was concerned, they were fighting the Ottoman Empire, not the Ottoman Caliphate.

The Sultan and the Caliph may have been the same person, but they had two very different functions and jurisdictions. The Sultan's law held sway over all within his empire (notwithstanding Western Powers forcing him to withdraw his authority from their own citizens present within his borders). The Caliph, by contrast, was Defender of the Faithful, meaning Muslims. As the custodian of Shari'a, his authority extended over all Muslims, both those within the Ottoman Empire, and those outside of it. The Caliph concerned himself more with Muslims in China than with Christians in Anatolia. The entry of the Ottoman Empire into WWI was not by the Sultan observing Western convention of issuing a Declaration of War, but by the Caliph declaring jihad against the Allies, backed with a fatwa calling on all Muslims in the world to fight and die for their Caliph.[2]

The British understood this relationship perfectly well, and got the Caliph in Constantinople to order the Muslims in India to obey the British, which they then did, since the highest earthly authority over them had spoken. When, at the end of WWI, the caliphate was threatened with abolition, it is the British-obeying Indian Muslims who did more than any other Muslims to save it, ignoring the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic.

The Caliphate did not recognise ethnicities or nations, only religions, and when the Ottoman Empire could no longer avoid modernisation and conversion to a nation-state, it came up against the Ottoman Caliphate. The nation of "Ottomans" that it reluctantly tried to fashion out of the Empire's disparate religions would have to be Muslim, naturally, which triggered, or at least contributed to, the waves of jihad from the late 19th century onwards aimed at either converting all the Empire's non-Muslims to Islam or exterminating them. Mustafa Kemal simply shifted the ground from religion to ethnicity, and embarked on a programme of ethnic cleansing from the end of WWI onwards aimed at either converting all the Republic's non-Turks to Turks or exterminating them. Kemal remained far more Muslim than he would have cared to admit.

Significantly, the lens through which both Ze'ev Jabotinsky viewed the Turks, whether the Young Turks or the Ottoman state, was a narrow one, capable of taking in little more than the immediate need for a Jewish state in Palestine. According to Jerry Klinger:

[Jabotinsky's] interviews with the leading Young Turks had convinced him of the futility of political negotiations with them. He realized that Zionists could expect no more from that regime than they could from the crafty, grasping old Sultan. No large commercial transactions and no amount of substantial bribes would induce the Turks to grant the Jews the autonomous status they were seeking in Palestine. The Turks, themselves a minority in the far-flung Ottoman Empire, could not risk aggravating the threat to their hegemony by granting independence to the Jews.

Herzlian Zionism centered on the proposal that the Jews would assume the Turkish debt in return for autonomy in Palestine. Jabotinsky knew it would never work. He knew that only a conflict, with Turkey on the losing side and the Jews on the victorious side, would change the future of Zionism.[3]

Both Jabotinsky and Herzl were wrong. They saw only the Ottoman Empire and were blind to the Ottoman Caliphate. The "crafty, grasping old Sultan," in Klinger's words, was the crafty, grasping old Caliph, behaving towards an infidel exactly as the Leader of the Muslims is supposed to behave towards an infidel. The Caliph would have taken offence at kufaar, Jews to boot, having the temerity and impertinence to propose a deal to him. The Sultan might have presided over the sick man of Europe, but he was still a Muslim, and the world's top Muslim at that, presiding over a caliphate. Zionist offers of "large commercial transactions", "substantial bribes" and undertaking to "assume the Turkish debt" were offensive and guaranteed to fail, just as, in our day, any attempt to bribe the Islamic Republic of Iran would be offensive and guaranteed to fail.

Jabotinsky's interpretation of the Ottoman rejection of a Jewish state as motivated by fear of encouraging nationalisms that might break up the Empire is a curious one, since such nationalisms had been breaking up the empire for almost a century. Greece had won independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1822. By the outbreak of WWI, the Ottoman Empire had already lost practically all of the Balkans, all of the north African coastline, all of Egypt and all of the western, northern and eastern Black sea coasts to nationalism. The reason for Ottoman refusal to entertain Zionist proposals lay elsewhere.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky saw no shortcoming in the Helsingfors Programme itself, rather, he saw the shortcoming in the Arabs: "It would be useless now to the Arabs. They would not understand, and they would not place any trust in its principles: they would not be able to appreciate them." Jabotinsky commits the same error as the Jews he criticises for thinking that the Arabs simply don't understand that the Jews mean them no harm and want to coexist with them. Jabotinsky was wrong because the Arabs would not reject the Helsingfors Programme because they do not understand it; they would reject it because they do understand it.

Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and Arab Muslims are superior to all other Muslims. Jabotinsky's Helsingfors Programme would have been doubly offensive to Arabs, both offences failing to register with Jabotinsky. Muslims are forbidden from treating Christians and Jews as their equals, something their religion only permits if they intend to deceive the Christians and the Jews.[4] Qur'an 2:191 commands the Muslim to "slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter." (My emphasis) Giving a Muslim a hard time is worse than a Muslim killing you. That is what the Jews are up against, and they still refuse to believe it. It is not enough to shoot dead a Muslim terrorist and demolish his house, his mosque must be raised to the ground. The staggering naïvity of thinking of a mosque as a "place of worship" continues to this very day. When the IDF finally attacked a mosque in Jenin, a notorious terrorist lair in northern Samaria, Arutz Sheva reported a hilarity that will be going around Muslim circles for weeks:

The IDF condemned the use of mosques by terrorists as bases of operation and for cover. “Holy places, such as the Al-Nasr Mosque, should not be used as a front for terrorism,” said the IDF in a statement.[5]

The Arab Riots of 1920-21 focussed Jabotinsky's attention not on interrogating theories of why they were happening, but on the practical urgency of saving European Jews from being murdered and securing for them their national home. The Helsingfors Programme was immediately to hand. If it was good enough to understand Russia, then it was good enough to understand Palestine, even if, as he believed, the Arabs would not be interested. Jabotinsky's full-time preoccupation with creating the future Jewish military force to protect the Jewish homeland, with leading the Haganah in the defence of Jerusalem, and seeing Jews in the Old City pay the ultimate price for their "misguided faith in their friendly relations with local Arabs," all fed into his polemic against the Labour Zionists, as laid out in The Iron Wall.

It cannot reasonably be expected of Jabotinsky, under such pressures, even to have been aware of the farcical trials of Ottoman war criminals underway in Istanbul in 1919-1920. He did not see that the force motivating the Arabs of Palestine to massacre the Jews was the same force that motivated the Ottomans to massacre the Christians, and that motivated Muslims to go on jihad against (infidel) colonial powers elsewhere. Despite "Allahu akbar!" propelling every single Arab attack, Jabotinsky saw only nationalism at work; not Islam, and so not jihad.

Jihad, as the permanent war of Muslims against non-Muslims, easily overlapped with other types of war between peoples, be they nations, ethnicities, language groups, classes, etc., or religions. The editors of the Shari'a manual, Reliance of the Traveller, offer the following summary of Sufi involvement in such "anti-colonial" jihad:

Among the Sufis who aided Islam with sword as well as pen, according to B.G. Martin's Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth Century Africa, are such men as the Naqshbandi sheikh Shamil Daghestani, who fought a prolonged war against the Russians in the Caucasus in the nineteenth century; Sayyid Muhammad 'Abdullah al-Somali, a sheikh of the Salihiyya Order, who led Muslims against the British and Italians in Somalia from 1899 to 1920; the Qadiri sheikh 'Uthman ibn Fodi, who led jihad in Northern Nigeria from 1804 to 1808 to establish Islamic rule; the Qadiri sheikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri, who led the Algerians against the French from 1832 to 1847; the Darqawi faqir al-Hajj Muhammad al-Ahrash, who fought the French in Egypt in 1799; the Tijani sheikh al-Hajj 'Umar Tal, who led Islamic jihad in Guinea, Senegal, and Mali from 1852 to 1864; and the Qadiri sheikh Ma' al-'Aynayn al-Qalqami, who helped marshal Muslim resistance to the French in northern Mauritania and southern Morocco from 1905 to 1909.

Among the Sufis whose missionary work Islamized entire regions are such men as the founder of the Sanusiyya order, Muhammad' Ali Sanusi, whose efforts and jihad from 1807 to 1859 consolidated Islam as the religion of peoples from the Libyan Desert to sub-Saharan Africa; the Shadhili sheikh Muhammad Ma'ruf and Qadiri sheikh Uways al-Barawi, whose efforts spread Islam westward and inland from the East African Coast; and the hundreds of anonymous Naqshbandi sheikhs who taught and preserved Islam among the peoples of what is now the southern Soviet Union and who still serve the religion there despite official pressure.[6]

Historiography generally treats jihad during the colonial period as simple anti-colonial struggles, just as it conflates the Ottoman Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire, but the distinctions are crucial. Consider, for example, how the Turkish bureaucrat was to keep his hatred for the non-Muslim away from his duties in his new secular Turkish Republic. It is highly unlikely that, in that first generation of Turks (as opposed to Ottomans), their hatred of non-Muslims was in any way diminished. Sydney Nowill describes the reintroduction in the Turkish Republic of the Ottoman Caliphate's jizya, in 1942:

1942 witnessed the so-called Varlik Vergisi or 'Wealth Tax' - a vindictive and destructive decree brought in by Prime Minister Sükrü Saraçoglu (and presumably sanctioned by President [Mustafa İsmet] İnönü). ...The pretext was to tax wartime speculative profits, and it was levied on the wealthy, mainly non-Muslim, ...to reduce the influence of the minority non-Turkish citizens on the country's affairs. Those mainly afflicted were the Greeks, Jews, Armenians, and, to some extent, foreign-passport Levantine families.

Lists of individuals were drawn up by local Finance Ministry officials, and once your name was there, there was no possibility of appeal. You had to hand over all your assets, and in some cases a sum greater than all your assets.

Businesses, homes and properties were seized, and those unable to pay were packed off to a camp at Askale, near Erzerum - an area colder than Moscow in the winter - where they were put to work breaking stones. Women dependents were left behind - they were allowed to keep their clothes and a mattress to lie on, but their homes and everything else were liable to be taken.

The Askale victims were later sent south to a camp in the Tigris Valley.

Shortly after the introduction of the Varlik Vergisi, President Inönü was due to have a wartime meeting with [British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill in Adana. According to a story I was told, Churchill refused to meet Inönü unless he released all the people in the camps - Inönù complied...

The Varlik Vergisi brought about a permanent demographic change within the minority population. Many (especially within the Greek minority) felt that there was no future for them in Turkey, and they left their ancestral homes, and became refugees in Greece. On the other hand, some, especially within the Jewish community, had managed to secrete assets abroad, and they were able to re-start a reduced and hesitant life in Turkey, being careful to abstain from displaying any sign of affluence...

The tax was not based on any reality, but just on a whim of the Authorities.[7]

Furthermore, just because a raid carried out by Muslims bore all the hallmarks of jihad, did not mean that it was religiously motivated. Hatred is a base emotion hardwired into Muslims at a very young age. Violence is integral to Muslim life. Should the child grow up to be, say, a bandit, he would have a ready inner resource to tap into, and in the middle of a jihad or pogrom, ready victims without protection. To this day, Muslim towns across Eretz Israel are plagued by armed Muslim criminal gangs. Where was the line between jihad and gangsterism in the 2021 Hamas-inspired pogroms across Israel's predominantly Muslim cities, such as Lod, Acre and Ramla, the so-called "mixed cities"? So it was with the opportunities opened up for warlords by the actual jihad against Christians in Anatolia.[8]

The distinction between jihad and warlordism/gangsterism is just one more layer of complexity on top of the distinction between jihad and ethnic cleansing, and between the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Caliphate. While one must acknowledge this deficiency in Jabotinsky's perspective, it would be unfair to take him to task over it. Some commentators' though, such as Muslim ideologue Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi, play fast and loose with the distinction between the Ottoman Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire. Setting aside Qadhi's fantasies and factual inaccuracies in rabble-rousing his congregation, the following extract illustrates the point:

It [the Ottoman Empire] reached its pinnacle, its zenith, in the 16th century. At the time, the Muslim ummah was the superpower of the entire globe and why would it not be? It had conquered the capital of Eastern Christendom, Constantinople. It had converted Constantinople—if you know your history, Constantinople and Rome were the two big cities—and the Ottomans had conquered in 1453 Constantinople, changed it to Istanbul. Of course, they’re going to rise from power to power to power, and they laid siege to the city of Vienna not once, but twice. The Ottoman Empire, the Muslim ummah, without a doubt, was the only global superpower of its time in this phase.[9] (My emphasis)

The distinction between the Ottoman Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire further helps to explain the periodicity of the different genocides the Ottomans/Turks perpetrated: the first type was jihad; the second, ethnic cleansing. Yet, as we saw in the 1942 case cited above, jihad overlapped with the secular Turkish Republic, whose officials could not let go of their enmity towards non-Muslims. Uğur Ümit Ügnör even conflates the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic, attributing both of their respective mass killings to the former:

An incomplete list of mass violence in the Ottoman Empire would include: the 1909 Adana massacre, the violent expulsion of European Muslims especially after 1912, the 1915 deportation and genocide of Armenians and Syriacs, the 1921 Koçgiri and Pontus massacres, [and in the Turkish Republic, AP] the mass violence against Kurds from the 1925 Sheikh Said conflict to the 1938 Dersim massacre, the 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in Thrace, all the way up to and including the 1955 pogrom against Greeks and Armenians in Istanbul.[10] (My emphasis)

The 1921 Koçgiri and Pontus massacres are particularly illuminating. The Ottoman Empire had been defeated in 1917, but was only formally abolished in 1922. Over the intervening five years, the de jure government sat in Constantinople (later Istanbul), while the de facto government of Mustafa Kemal, the Government of the Grand National Assembly, sat in Angora (later Ankara). The caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate, with the full participation of the Kurds, had started the slaughter of the Armenians in the 1890s and 1915, Greeks in 1913 and Assyrians in 1915 as jihad. The fiercely anti-Muslim Mustafa Kemal, who was soon to abolish the caliphate, in 1921 continued the slaughter of the Greeks, this time as ethnic cleansing. In the same year, he started slaughtering the Kurds after the latter had refused to give up their ethnicity and assimilate themselves into the Turkish nation. After 1921, therefore, both the Greeks (Christians) and the Kurds (Muslims) fell victim to nationalist Turkish ethnic cleansing, while outbreaks of jihad within ethnic cleansing and outbreaks of secular banditry within jihad, continued sporadically.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky's thoughts and writing that resulted in The Iron Wall developed right in the middle of this bewildering and sometimes paradoxical ferment. The crimes of the dying Ottoman Caliphate merging into the crimes of the nascent Turkish Republic unfolded from well before the Helsingfors Programme of 1906 till well after it, which makes a mockery of the lofty Helsingfors dreams of “citizenship equality” and “peaceful and neighbourly collaboration,” especially as the same Ottoman Empire also ruled over Palestine. Turks have settled in Palestine throughout Ottoman overlordship (1069-1917) with some periods of mass migration. The question of how the Arabs stood to the Turks seems not to have exercised Jabotinsky. Yet his own early years in Russia would lead one to wonder about this.


  1. Anwar Faruqi, "Muslims Around The World Rally For Israel’s Extermination," APNews, 11 March 1994.  https://web.archive.org/web/20220209190857/https://apnews.com/article/1b4fd83b8646da55e2c0479cde224234
  2. An imperfect analogy would be the Pope, who is the Head of State of a country of less than half a square Kilometre, but who makes laws for Catholics across the globe. In the different countries, though, Catholics abide by their country's secular law, rather than the Pope's religious law. Here the analogy breaks down, for the Pope, at least since the Reformation, does not raise armies; he only blesses fascist ones. Pope Francis's blessing of jihad is in this vein. To Muslims, wherever they may find themselves, Shari'a always supersedes secular law. Even if, at a particular point in time, they have no choice but to obey secular law, one can be certain that they are plotting and scheming tirelessly to substitute Shari'a for secular law, and subjugate all non-Muslims to themselves. A common Western misconception about Shari'a is that it is law obeyed by Muslims and nobody else, whereas it is law enforced by Muslims on everybody else.
  3. Jerry Klinger, "The Struggle for the Jewish Legion and The Birth of the IDF," The Jewish Magazine, October 2010. https://jewishmag.com/148mag/jewish_legion/jewish_legion.htm
  4. In Part 6 we consider the pressures that cause Muslims to want to rein in Islam, and why the Abraham Accords, while being a step towards peace, are no guarantee of it.
  5. The IDF spokesperson added, "We began this operation with a tactical surprise - we added aerial attacks, and that allowed us to surprise them." Israel deploying a high-tech weapon is not a surprise. This is Israel. Blowing up the mosque with everything inside it – that would be a surprise. "Pits with weapons, explosives found in Jenin mosque," 7 Israel National News, 3 July 2023. https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/373622. It gets worse, much worse. Here is Caroline Glick, writing in Arutz Sheva:

    "In a remarkable exchange, journalist Elchanan Groner asked the unnamed top officer whether the Palestinian Authority is Israel’s enemy. 'Absolutely not. The Palestinians are not an enemy and the P.A. is not an enemy and really doesn’t encourage terrorism,' the top officer said. The statement by the top officer was jaw-dropping. As Palestinian Media Watch reported last week, Fatah, the PLO faction led by P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas, bragged in its official media organs last week that U.S.-trained P.A. security personnel carry out two-thirds of all terrorist attacks against Israel. The P.A. devotes 7% of its U.S.-funded budget to paying salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails and pensions to the families of dead terrorists. These salaries rise with the severity of the crimes. The base salary is NIS 1,400 a month for rock throwers. Terrorists receive extra money if they murder Jews and the more Jews they murder, the more money they make. On average, the salary of terrorists is three times the average income in P.A.-ruled areas. Yet, the top Central Command officer insisted that the P.A. opposes terrorism."

    And worse still:

    "On Saturday, a cowherd from the region was attacked by hundreds of Palestinian Arabs from Umm Tzafa. When the IDF failed to deploy forces to protect him from the hundreds of Palestinian Arabs attacking him and his cows with fireworks and rocks, he called the residents in the surrounding villages, who broke the Sabbath restrictions to save him. Rather than thank the Jewish villagers, the IDF joined Peace Now and other leftist and anarchist groups in castigating them as violent thugs for brandishing their weapons to protect the cowherd." —  Caroline Glick, "The limited potential of the operation in Jenin," 7 Israel National News, 3 July 2023. https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/373623

    When Benjamin Netanyahu castigates the Jews of Judea and Samaria for "taking the law into their own hands," what law, exactly, does he have in mind?
  6. Reliance of the Traveller, Appendix W.
  7. Nowill, Sidney E. P. (December 2011), Constantinople and Istanbul: 72 Years of Life in Turkey, Matador, pp. 76-77.
  8. Nicholas Doumanis, Before the Nation: Muslim-Christian Coexistence and its Destruction in Late Ottoman Anatolia, OUP, 2013, p156.
  9. Shaykh Dr Yasir Qadhi, "Ninety-nine Years After The Collapse of the Ottomans," EPIC MASJID, YouTube, 12 Mar 2023 https://youtu.be/wMbnJQ84LUY
  10. Uğur Ümit Ügnör, "Seeing like a nation-state: Young Turk social engineering in Eastern Turkey,1913–50," Journal of Genocide Research(2008), 10(1), March, 15–39.