Heller, Daniel Kupfert. “Obedient Children and Reckless Rebels: Jabotinsky’s Youth Politics and the Case for Authoritarian Leadership, 1931–1933.” Journal of Israeli History (early view, online first).
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.
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.