The Spartan Youth of Israel:
A Generation Searches for Its Soul
The presence and predominance of Israel’s youth—in a swaggering, wholly physical sense—in the streets of Tel Aviv, in the settlements, and in army and government offices, which are sometimes uncannily like Boys’ Towns, is overpowering. It sweeps in on the newcomer to the land with the suddenness of a breaker, and it has burdened Israelis, even on the friskier side of forty, with a mounting sense of insecurity, manifest in their approbatory head-nods and sheepish grins over even the most fatuous and outrageous impudence of the young. These grins are an implicit comment on the general explanation: “After all, these young won the war for us,” an explanation to be heard everywhere with the dull frequency of an alibi. In this self-effacing remark by the no-longer-so-young, there is commingled an implied apology for having aged at all, a genuine pride in the native-born sabra, a trace of uncertainty, and a readiness to disclaim responsibility for this new type of Jew they helped to shape.
In Israel, the middle-aged and older walk somewhat furtively in the shadow of youth, like conquered populations in the shadow of a benevolent occupation force; even in their sleep, the fatigued elders are haunted by the uneasiness of the dispossessed, waking past midnight to the boisterous loud talk and irrepressible group-singing of gangs of youth returning from a rally.
About the Author