This article surveys the ideal of the cult of the leader among Revisionist Zionist circles in inter-war Palestine. Relying on the writings of Itamar Ben Avi, Abba Ahime‘ir, Wolfgang von Weisl, Joshua Yevin, Zwi Kolitz and Abraham Stern, it examines how this leader’s cult evolved within the Revisionist movement and what role it played in the Revisionist thought. It concludes by examining this admiration towards national leaders in the context of Robert Paxton’s model of generic fascism, demonstrating how this leader’s cult can be considered as a ‘mobilising emotion’ of local generic fascism.
The Lehi, a fringe Jewish paramilitary group created in 1940, conducted a
concerted terrorist campaign against the British authorities in
Palestine during and after World War II, proclaiming that its activities
were undertaken in the name of national liberation. Lehi was founded
and led by Avraham Stern, also known as “Yair.” Scholar, intellectual,
and poet, Stern developed a fundamental ideology of national and
messianic Jewish terrorism, which became the ideological basis not only
for the work of the Lehi, but also for later Jewish terrorist activism.
The present article examines the intellectual foundations of Lehi
terrorism and how its intellectual and ideological principles influenced
Lehi’s most controversial activities—internal terrorism and the
execution of its own members. In conclusion, the author traces the
impact of Stern’s intellectual legacy on later generations of Jewish