The savage Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel last weekend they already left at least 1,300 dead and hundreds of injured, kidnapped and missing. The offensive that took the Jewish State by surprise was especially suffered near the border with Gaza, where most of the kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz).
Inspired, in part, by socialist elements of Zionist ideology, but also due to the unviability of individual cultivation of the land in a water-stingy area, this model of agricultural collectivization was successful and attracted thousands of Jews from all over the world who, by joining a kibbutz, could feel part of the shared utopia . Currently, there are in Israel 250 of these collective farms. They live around 125 thousand peoplewhich represents approximately 1.3% of the population. The number of members of a kibbutz can range between 100 and 1,000.
These volunteer communes, created more than 90 years ago, played an essential role in the creation of the Jewish state and they became its distinctive feature and symbol par excellence.
In the kibbutzim, people live according to a specific social contractbased on egalitarian and community principles in a social and economic framework.
“The main characteristics of kibbutz life were established in the adherence to collectivism in property along with a cooperative character in the spheres of education, culture and social life. With this, the understanding was reached that the member of the kibbutz is part of a unit larger than your own family“, explain it Jewish Agency on their website.
Kibbutzim operate under the premise that “all income generated by the kibbutz and its members goes to a common fund”according to Jewish Agency. The income is allocated to the administration of the community, to investments and to guarantee mutual and reciprocal help and responsibility among members, who receive the same budget depending on the size of the family.
This type of community is governed by a “system of direct participatory democracy, in which the individual can directly influence the affairs and events of the community”specifies the Jewish Agency. Collective work and work ethic play a fundamental role in the well-being of the community.
Over time, things changed and these communities have sacrificed a good part of their socialist essence to today’s mercantile and individualistic tendencies. Example of this is Degania, the first kibbutz, built in October 1910, on the shores of Lake Tiberiade (Sea of Galilee), in what was still Ottoman territory at that time. Most of the colony has been privatized to avoid the hemorrhage of money and followers.
Currently, different issues that historically corresponded to the entire community are now under the care and responsibility of each member and their family. “Somewhat romantic in the past, today’s kibbutz has evolved dramatically and the focus of kibbutz life on society has diminished substantially,” says the Jewish Agency.
Kibbutzim are found throughout Israel and vary in size, location, climate, agriculture, types of industry, population, ideological or religious convictions and general character.
“Issues of privatization and the extent to which communal life continues are factors influencing the style and development of most kibbutzim today. Some have more or less resolved the issue, while others remain immersed in heated debates about its character and that of kibbutz life as it has been known for most of the last century“, adds the Jewish Agency.