A day before Israel celebrates Ze’ev Jabotinsky Day on the 18th of July and to mark 100 years since his formative essay “The Iron Wall,” a poll demonstrates that Israeli youth have little familiarity with Jabotinsky or knowledge of his writings or the Revisionist movement in general.
The survey, conducted for Jabotinsky Day by the Shiluv polling agency for the Middle East Forum’s Israel Victory Project, surveyed 500 Jewish youths aged 16-25 years old.
Even though the Jabotinsky Day Law was passed in 2005, to “bequeath Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s vision, heritage, and achievements for generations, to commemorate him, and to bring about the education of future generations”, 55% of respondents said that they did not learn about Jabotinsky during their school years and 84% did not learn about him during informal educational settings.
“Jabotinsky has a lot to say of relevance to us today, even from 100 years ago, so it is a great shame that despite the passage of the Jabotinsky Day Law, very few younger Israelis have learned about him and his vision,” said Nave Dromi of the Middle East Forum Israel Office. “Especially after his ideological descendants, the Right-wing parties, have been largely in power for the last four decades, it is a shame that Zionist education appears to still be tilted away from the Revisionist Movement. It could be argued that now more than ever, its principles, including the necessity of defeating one’s enemies, are vital as the Jewish State’s enemies are increasing.”
Other main findings of the survey, conducted last week, are:
- After 40 years of mostly Right-wing rule, the Revisionist Movement is the least known Zionist Movement, compared to the Socialist/Labor Movement and Religious Zionism, among youth in Israel.
- Only about 10% of high school students have learned about the Revisionist Movement at school, compared to 31% who learned about the Socialist/Labor movement. In the national religious sector, 30% reported learning about the Revisionist movement.
- 100 years since the “Iron Wall” essay, about 95% of high school students are not familiar with the essay or its contents.
- 70% of pre-army youth agree with Jabotinsky’s assertion that only a strong Jewish military force will solve the Palestinian problem.
- 71% of those polled agree that the enemies of the State of Israel will only accept its existence if they know that it cannot be defeated in war. Among high school students, 75% agreed with this statement.
- About 70% of the Jewish youth in 2023 define themselves as Right-wing, but only 9% of them could name Jabotinsky, the father of the Right-wing movement, as a prominent Jewish leader in the history of Zionism.
- Only 12% of high school students knew that former Prime Minister Menachem Begin was a member of the Revisionist Movement. 60% of the students did not know which movement he belonged to.
- 63% of the respondents could not say who former Lehi leader Geula Cohen was, or anything about her.
The survey was conducted on the 9th of July and had a sampling error of 4.4%.
The Israel Victory Project seeks to steer Israeli policy toward backing an Israel victory over the Palestinians to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. This new paradigm of defeating Palestinian violent rejectionism and terrorism, seeks to convince Palestinians that the Jewish state will endure, drawing on Israel’s earlier and successful strategy of deterrence.