James Bond, Jabotinsky and the Holocaust
By Moshe Phillips
A new motion picture in which James Bond fights Nazis and saves
Jews during the Holocaust is scheduled for release this Chanukah season. Well,
not exactly. Daniel Craig is the British actor who stars in the new blockbuster
James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Craig will play another character in
2008 and unlike Bond, this character is based on a real life hero. Craig plays
Tuvia Bielski in the movie Defiance. Bielski and his brothers, Zus and
Asael, led the Jewish effort that rescued 1,200 fellow Jews from the Nazis and
started a partisan brigade that battled the German Wehrmacht. Zus Bielski is
portrayed by Liev Schreiber.
The movie is based Nechama Tec's 1993 book, Defiance: The
Bielski Partisans. An additional work, 2003's The Bielski Brothers: The
True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and
Saved 1,200 Jews was written by Peter Duffy. Duffy's book did much to bring
the heroism of the Bielski brothers to the wider audience that they so rightly
Tuvia Bielski (1906-1987) was the leader of the partisan group
known as the Bielski Partisans. The group was situated in the Naliboki forest in
the border area between Belarus and Poland. The Bielski group rescued Jews from
the ghettos and brought them to a forest sanctuary where they created a society
based on surviving the war, fighting the Nazis and preserving the Jewish way of
life. And they succeeded. There was simply no other similar group during the
Holocaust that has such success.
The Bielski Brothers story is worth telling - they fought back,
saved other Jews, survived and sought revenge. Their story should become one of
the stories that people think of when they recall the Holocaust.
offers an opportunity to correct the history of the Holocaust by remembering the
contributions made by the Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky and his Betar student
movement. Jabotinsky molded and commanded Betar from its inception in 1923
through his death in 1940. The political enemies of Jabotinsky and his movement
have worked since the 1930s to delegitimize them. First lies and slander were
hurled at them. Later the Leftists made every effort to write them out of
history, so their views, and the views of their ideological heirs, would seem
less valid. The Jabotinsky Zionists introduced an authentically Jewish worldview
to Zionism. Many of the fighting heroes of the Holocaust embraced the new
ideology. Peter Duffy writes that Zus Bielski attended Betar meetings before the
war. The man the Bielskis entrusted with the role of chief of staff of their
partisan group was a former Polish army officer and Betar veteran named Layzer
Malbin. Malbin and Zus commanded the fighting units while Tuvia ran the camp and
made political decisions. In Defiance Malbin is played by Mark Feuerstein
who is perhaps best known for the NBC sitcom Good Morning, Miami.
There are other well known Betar trained men who fought the Nazis
and led underground fighters during the war, and these heroes must be remembered
The most famous Jewish leader of armed resistance was Mordechai
Anielwicz commander of the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) during the 1943
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Anielwicz received paramilitary training in Betar as a
young teenager and left Betar before the war. The ZOB had a Socialist
orientation and Betar as an organization did not participate in it.
The Jewish Military Organization, (ZZW) was the other armed
resistance group in Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The ZZW was led and manned by Betar
members and their allies. Betar's fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising were
largely written out of history by the Left. Moshe Arens, Israel's former defense
minister and a Betar alum, recently wrote a yet to be published book on Betar's
heroic battle against the S.S. in the ghetto. Articles by Arens about the ZZW
were published in Yad Vashem Studies, Haaretz and The Jerusalem
Post and have helped to create a far more accurate account of the ZZW's
participation in the Uprising.
In the Vilna Ghetto, Betar leader Joseph Glazman was deputy
commander of the United Partisan Organization, the only armed Jewish resistance
group in that ghetto.
Professor Daniel J. Elazar (1934-1999) was a scholar of the
Jewish political tradition. In the May 15, 1981 edition of the journal Sh'ma,
Elazar remarked about Jabotinsky's legacy writing:
"Would there be serious public commemoration of the 100th
birthday of Zev Jabotinsky had it not been for the fact that the Likud won the
election in Israel in 1977? Not likely. For thirty years and more, Jabotinsky
was one of those non-persons in Israel and the Jewish world… The ruling Labour
Party made him a non-person for the same reasons that it portrayed Menachem
Begin and his supporters as uncivilized fascists -- it is easier to beat the
opposition by painting it as irrelevant, intolerable and non-existent, until it
is too strong to be dismissed."
offers an opportunity to remind today's Jews about Jabotinsky's vital
contribution to Jewish Thought. His words and ideas animated a generation to
resist the Nazis and fight for the freedom of Israel. The Islamists and
Iranians are focused on destroying Israel and the Jewish People in a future
Holocaust more intense than the original. Jabotinsky needs to be remembered.
Moshe Phillips is a member of the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel – AFSI. The chapter's website is at: www.phillyafsi.com and Moshe's blog can be found at http://phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com.
from the December 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine