Study and Theory/
Tel Hai

Joseph Trumpeldor

Hero or Pacifist – From a Letter to Echad Ha'am

In the past, my views were close to Tolstoyism and when I was recruited (in 1903) to the army, I also intended to avoid taking the vow. Yet I gave up this idea, mainly, perhaps out of suspicion that "they" may say: "The Jew is fallacious: he mentions philosophies, yet he actually fears the army service..." Perhaps, I didn’t do the right thing, perhaps I should have not considered the opinions of people whom I do not respect, yet my semi-Tolstoyism and with my anti-militarism, there were many weak points I was aware of myself. Whatever the case may be, in my view I am not a military man and I will use arms, only when I see no other option.

 

Written in 1916, at the time of the prevailing controversy regarding the question of the Hebrew Legions, that Trumpeldor was an initiator of their establishment while Echad Ha'am opposed this. At that time the Jewish settlements and Zionism argued over the question of militarism.   

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