Dialogues with young people David Ben-Gurion's youths campaigns, 1939-1954

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Abstract

The growing focus on the social roles of the young generation in modern times has raised contradictory feelings towards them. On the one hand they were expected to fulfil the hopes and goals placed on them by the older generation and at the same time they were criticized for their independence and rebelliousness. This was also the case in Israel during its nation-building era, both before and after its establishment. During the late 1930s-1950s, a public discourse arose regarding the image of young people in society, their role and their general status. This phenomenon was inspired by the growing interest of the Israeli founding father and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in the young generation of the country. From 1939 and during the next two decades the issue remained on his agenda. Overall, the leader expected the young generation to serve the national goals and not to define them, but at the same time, and in spite of his powerful position, he abstained from unilateral or coercive actions towards them and focused on convincing them of his national agenda. These efforts are revealed in the course of this article through the analysis of two case studies, two junctures in the history of Israel where the founding leader conducted a 'youth campaign' thus placing youth as a major issue on his agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-236
Number of pages19
JournalIsrael Affairs
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2008

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