Youth Movements and Organizations

Israel Table of Contents

During the Yishuv period and in the early 1950s, youth movements associated with political parties were important institutions of political education and socialization. Affiliated branches even existed in the European and American diasporas. They were training grounds for future members, and especially for the future elite, of the parties. Each party of any size had one: Mapam (the original Labor-oriented youth movement was HaShomer HaTzair-- see Appendix B), Herut (Betar--see Appendix B), National Religious Party (Bene Akiva), as well as the Histadrut and other organizations. The fate of these youth movements over the years has reflected the broader changes that have occurred in Israeli society. The relatively apolitical and nonideological Boy Scout organization has grown; left-of-center movements have not. The Bene Akiva, on the other hand, has also grown, more than three-fold since 1960. In the late 1980s, it enrolled more than 30,000 Israeli religious youths, who make up a large part of the "knitted skullcaps." The Bene Akiva has acted as a training ground for many of the young extremist and right-wing Orthodox political activists who have gained prominence since the June 1967 War.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress