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The previous article in this series chronicled the salient events that took place in the kibbutz movement in the years 1985 to 1997. The events set the stage for the major transformation which was to occur in the years 1998 – 2010.

Two central events and one non-event highlighted the period between 1997 and 2010.

First and foremost, the new (privatized) kibbutz emerged as the preferred kibbutz framework. By 2010 the kibbutz mitchadesh1 , the “new kibbutz”, constituted the majority of the movement. In 1998 there were 14 privatized (“new”) kibbutzim. By 2011 there were 202 privatized or partially privatized kibbutzim and 54 collective kibbutzim.

The above figure does not include the 19 kibbutzim of Hakibbutz Hadati five of which are collective. This number is somewhat misleading for two reasons. Firstly, the collective kibbutzim are the leadership of Hakibbutz Hadati. Secondly, Hakibbutz Hadati continues to function as did the other movements before the crisis in matters of mutual help and responsibility.

Consequent to the rezoning of agricultural land, many privatizing kibbutzim developed neighborhoods for non-kibbutz members adjacent to existing residential areas. In many cases a significant number of the non-kibbutz members are the grown up children of the kibbutz.

The emergence of different types of kibbutz was officially recognized by the government (2005). Could the kibbutz movement still be called “movement” or had it become a federative organization – this was (and is) an open question.

The second event was a formal parting of the ways between the “blue shirt” youth movements and the kibbutz movement. The Dror-Israel movement for graduates was established in 2006 as the preferred framework for self-realization (hagshama atzmit). Cooperation continues, in particular with the minority Collective Council (Mate Shitufi) of the kibbutzim – see below. Ironically, the kibbutz movement as a whole continues to finance much of the youth movements’ activity without any real control.

The significant non-event during this period was that that the minority collective stream did not split off from the kibbutz movement dominated by the new kibbutzim. The reasons for this “non-event” that at the grass roots level, collective stream kibbutz members were indifferent to the whole issue and not prepared to invest energy and money in order to establish a new movement.

Chronology

  • 1999 – Twenty-eight kibbutzim within the Collective Circle formally organize as the Collective Stream. In general, they are the kibbutzim that formed the informal “Kibbutz Tamid” group in 1994. The Collective Stream also includes leading kibbutzim of the Hakibbutz Hadati movement most of whose veteran kibbutzim remains traditional. Another 40 kibbutzim remain collective but are loathe to formally affiliate and prefer passive membership in the Collective Circle.
  • 2000 – Formal unification of the United Kibbutz Movement and Hakibbutz Haartzi – Hashomer Hatzair Into The Kibbutz Movement (henceforth capitalized) – Hatnua Hakibbutzit. Two General Secretaries elected – Natan Tal (Shefayim) UKM and Gavri Bargil (Ramot Menashe) Hakibbutz Haartzi. Natan Tal militantly furthers privatization. Gavri Bargil remains officially neutral.
  • 2002 –The government appoints a Public Committee for Classification of Kibbutzim (the Ben-Rafael committee) in order to review the definition of “kibbutz” within the framework of the Cooperative Societies Regulations. After 15 months the committee concludes that there are now three different categories of kibbutz:
    1. Collective kibbutz (kibbutz shitufi) – a settlement society, which is a separate village, organized on the basis of communal ownership of property, of self-labor and of equality and cooperation in production, consumption and education.
    2. New kibbutz (kibbutz mitchadesh) – a settlement society , which is a separate village, organized on the basis of communal participation in the ownership of property, of self-labor, equality and cooperation in production, consumption and education which maintains mutual responsibility for its members in accordance …with the regulations for Mutual Responsibility in the New Kibbutz – including provisions on one or more of the following matters:
      1. Allocations to its members in accordance with their contribution, position or seniority in the kibbutz.
      2. Attribution of dwellings…
      3. Attribution of means of production other than land, water and production quotas to its members on condition that control of the means of production not be transferred to its members.
    3. Urban kibbutz (kibbutz ironi) – a cooperative society that functions for social contribution to and participation in Israeli society, organized on principles of self-labor and of cooperation in income, consumption, and education on the basis of its members’ equality.2
  • 2005 – The recommendations of the Ben Rafael committee are passed into law. However, the interpretation of “mutual responsibility” on the new kibbutz remains open. Pension rights of veteran members constitute a source of great tension. “Attribution of dwellings” (private ownership of up to 500 square meters of residential land) has run into difficulty with the Israel Lands Authority. “Attribution of means of production” means that if the economic holdings (mainly agricultural) of the kibbutz make a profit the members receive dividends. Only the urban kibbutzim are recognized as intentional communities seeking to impact on the surrounding society.
  • 2005 – Elections for one General Secretary of the Kibbutz Movement. Natan Tal is challenged by Zeev (Velvele) Shor of Kibbutz Ein Gev. Shor promises “benevolent neutrality” between the collective stream and the new kibbutzim. Voter turnout in the new kibbutzim is relatively low. However, Natan Tal has become anathema to the collective kibbutzim. and Shor is narrowly elected because of their massive turnout The possibility of a split in the kibbutz movement recedes.
  • 2006 – The Collective Stream and the Collective Circle integrate activity and morph into the Collective Council (Mate Shitufi)
  • 2006 – Dror-Israel is established as an adult movement of educational communes with which organized groups (garinim) of youth movement graduates of the Hanoar Haoved and HaMachanot Haolim affiliate (Dror Israel is to play a central role in the social protest movement which erupts in the summer of 2011).3

The 2010 Kibbutz Centenary marks the end of this period and the opening phase of the current period. Our next and final article will deal with the dramatic dynamics which are beginning to unfold within the Kibbutz Movement as it enters the second decade of this century.


Footnotes

1 The literal translation of kibbutz mitchadesh is “renewing kibbutz”. In my opinion, this term is misleading and I have followed the precedent of Aryeh Greenfield (A.G. Publications – Haifa) who translated the Cooperative Societies Regulations into English and used the term “New Kibbutz.”
In most cases the community foregoes direct responsibility for the economy and transfers economic authority to a Board of Directors. There is a minimum guaranteed income for everyone but basically everyone is employed (or self-employed) and is paid according to the value of their work on the open market.

2These definitions are excerpted from the English translation by A.G. Publications, Haifa, 2007. Bold emphases are mine ( M.L.) The definitions of the cooperative (collective) kibbutz and the urban kibbutz are given in full. The definition of the new kibbutz has been abbreviated – the details are beyond the scope of this brief review and were at the core of heated discussions in the Ben Rafael committee

3For an English video clip on Dror-Israel see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ6RzEEL1HM