Poll: Israeli education ignores right-wing Zionist hero, movement

Today is Ze’ev Jabotinsky day, but only 10 percent of Israeli youth reported learning about Revisionist Zionism in school, despite the movement’s profound impact on modern-day Israeli politics.

By World Israel News Staff

The majority of Israeli youth have never been taught about arguably the most influential leader of the right-wing Revisionist Zionism and the political movement itself, according to a recent poll.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky is widely viewed as the father of Revisionist Zionism, which promoted expanding Israel’s territorial borders and prioritized a fierce military defense of the fledgling Jewish state.

Many of the right-wing parties in modern Israeli political history can trace their ideological roots back to Jabotinsky and the movement, but according to a survey commissioned by the Middle East Forum, most youth today are not formally educated on the topic.

Fifty-five percent of Israelis between the ages of 16 and 25 reported that they had never been taught about Jabotinsky either in middle school or in high school, and an additional 84 percent said the subject was never broached in informal educational settings, such as after-school programs and youth groups.

That knowledge gap is particularly striking, considering that this year, July 18th – the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, the anniversary of his death in 1940 – is officially Ze’ev Jabotinsky Day in Israel, an occasion aimed at commemorating his legacy since 2005. A state memorial is held annually on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

“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, a right-wing Israeli journalist and director of the Middle East Forum’s Israel Office, in a media statement.

“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.”

The poll also found that despite Revisionist Zionism’s clear impact on Israeli politics today, youth were far more likely to be familiar with the history and principles of the Socialist Zionism of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and Religious Zionism.

Only 10 percent of Israeli youth said they had been educated about the Revisionist Movement, while triple that number said they were formally taught about Socialist Zionism.

In recent months, a number of incidents indicating left-wing bias in Israel’s education system, particularly in secular schools, have made headlines.