Obedient children and reckless rebels: Jabotinsky's youth politics and the case for authoritarian leadership, 1931-1933

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Abstract

This article traces the pivotal role that ideas about "youth" and "generationhood" played in Vladimir Jabotinsky's political strategy as leader of the Union of Revisionist Zionists and its youth movement, Brit Yosef Trumpeldor (Betar). During the leadership struggle within the movement between 1931 and 1933, Jabotinsky believed that he could draw upon debates sweeping across Europe about the nature of youth, their role in politics, and the challenges of "generational conflict" in order to convince his followers that his increasingly authoritarian behavior was the only mode of leadership available to Zionist leaders in the 1930s. The article demonstrates that Jabotinsky's deliberately ambiguous and provocative constructions of "youth" and "generationhood" within the movement's party literature and in articles addressed to the Polish Jewish public, as well as the innovative ways in which he delimited "youth" from "adult" in his movement's regulations, allowed him to further embrace authoritarian measures within the movement without publicly abandoning his claim to be a firm proponent of democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-68
Number of pages24
JournalThe Journal of Israeli History
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • authoritarianism
  • Betar
  • Jabotinsky
  • Revisionism
  • youth movements

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