08 April 2013

The kibbutz as a paradigm for Israeli national politics

Excerpts from an article in The Spectator, written by someone who had volunteered at one in 1984 and recently returned to find major changes:
In my middle age, I found myself wondering how my old kibbutz was getting on, and how its ideals had survived the collapse of communism, Thatcherism, Reaganism, and all the other isms. This March, I went back...

The kibbutz was a third of the size it used to be, and there was no communal dining hall. Instead, everyone stayed home at night, watching TV. And the average age of the members was 80. I found Alec Collins, who, together with his wife Edna, had been our ‘mother’ and ‘father’ and fed us brownies. ‘It started with the volunteers,’ he said. ‘When they came, we were no longer a closed society. Then we had the 1960s, sex drugs and rock’n’roll.’ He scratched his leg, in his khaki shorts. ‘The world changed, and the kibbutz changed with it.’ ..

As I left Galilee, I realised that it would be simplistic to say that the changes in the kibbutz movement mirror the changes in politics, the economy, and the population. In Israel, things are always more complicated. But a country that was once socialist, secular, and led by men who’d all been on kibbutzim, like David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Ehud Barak, has turned religious, nationalist and capitalist. There is only one kibbutznik left in the Knesset, but two settler MPs are already ministers.
Via The Dish.

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