International

The Times They Are A-Changin’

The Guardian reports this morning on Israel’s first and most famous kibbutz, Degania, which has voted to give up its early socialist ideals and to privatise itself.

Founded in 1910 on land bought for the Jewish National Fund the pioneers wrote of their project: “We came to establish an independent settlement of Hebrew labourers, on national land, a collective settlement with neither exploiters nor exploited – a commune.”

On the banks of the Jordan, Degania, where Israeli general Moshe Dayan was the first child to be born, is to give up its socialist past and go private with members in future being paid a salary instead of seeing their cash paid into a communal account.

Allan Shapiro, 79, a retired university lecturer in law and political science and a long-time resident of Degania, said: “I feel sad and in a way I am nostalgic for the traditional kibbutz, but I have to realise that I am nostalgic for my dream of a community that I had before I came. We depended on loyalty to the community and ideology to take the place of the market.

“The socialist part was really sort of minor here. The important thing was that there were Jews working the land with their own hands and if there was a search for anything it was a search for community.

“What we have done is to allow the market to take the place of the idealism. I think the search for community still exists. It is still the basic concept.”

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