From Zionism to Diaspora-Zionism: the history of the Zionist youth movements in Australia

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Copyright: Lander, Jonathan Ari
This thesis examines the history of four Zionist youth movements in Australia: Bnei Akiva, Betar, Habonim and Hashomer Hatzair. All four movements were established in Australia in the 1940s and 1950s by European Jews who wanted to re-create the organisations they had grown up with in Europe. The movements were, originally, activist political organisations dedicated to educating Jewish youth towards immigrating to Palestine/Eretz Israel (making aliyah) in order to help build the Jewish state. While all four movements shared the same basic aim of aliyah they also possessed distinct political ideologies. The movements were inspired by a kaleidoscope of European intellectual thought, but in particular they were influenced by the German youth movement and the British scouts as well as nationalism, socialism, romanticism and fascism. Historians of Zionism and European Jewish history have written a great deal about the origins of the movements and their important role in the history of Jewish nationalism. While scholars have examined the importance of the movements in Europe, Palestine and elsewhere, current academic research is largely silent on the history of the movements since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The historiography on the youth movements in Australia is even sparser. In this thesis I examine what the success of the movements in Australia may tell us about Jewish identity. I explore the ideological developments within the movements in Australia, their successes in convincing members to make aliyah, as well as their attempts to adapt their ideologies to suit a rapidly changing world. Originally the movements were dedicated to aliyah, but it is clear that an ideological shift has begun to take place with their embrace of a Diaspora-Zionism. This ideological development represents the most dramatic change in the ideology of the movements since their original establishment. The idea of an ideologically based Diaspora-Zionist identity raises important questions about the nature of Jewish identity in the Diaspora and the connection between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. By charting the history of the movements in Australia I suggest how this complex and fascinating story highlights the uncertainty of Jewish identity in the modern world.
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Lander, Jonathan Ari
Kalman, Julie
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PhD Doctorate
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