The Kibbutz Movement: A History, Crisis and Achievement, 1939-1995 v. 2

BookThe Kibbutz Movement: A History, Crisis and Achievement, 1939-1995 v. 2

The Kibbutz Movement: A History, Crisis and Achievement, 1939-1995 v. 2

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


February 21st, 2008

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This volume continues the narrative account of the history of the kibbutz movement from the outbreak of the Second World War onwards. This period included a number of dramatic and complex developments: the effects of the world war and the Holocaust on the kibbutzim and their youth movements; the political struggles which led to the end of the British mandate; the War of Independence, including the role of the Palmach and the political controversy it engendered; the crises which followed the establishment of the State of Israel and the politics of the kibbutz movement in the early years of independence; and the kibbutzim’s gradual adaptation to their new position in Israeli society and to the problems and challenges of a multi-generational society in the late twentieth century.

Although the detailed narrative ends in 1977 (when the Israeli political system, and the status of the kibbutz, underwent a radical change), it is followed by a detailed overview describing the many developments which took place between 1977 and 1995.

 Much of the material is new in any language, and virtually all is new in English. Throughout, economic developments, immigration and agricultural settlement, political and ideological issues, and internal social developments are presented as interdependent and as vitally affected by—and often affecting—the changing fortunes of the Jewish people, the Zionist movement, and the Jewish community in Palestine/Israel. But the kibbutzim are also presented as a special instance of a widespread social phenomenon: communal and co-operative societies.

'Near's achievement in writing this work is to have produced the first complete history of the kibbutz movement in English ... Near accomplished it with what seems like an effortless ability ... Near does an outstanding job of making intelligible issues that may not have been clear even to all of the contemporary Zionists who struggled with them ... Near had made a major contribution not only to the history of the kibbutz but to the comprehensive history of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. The fact that he is a kibbutz member, yet can write so critically and objectively about his subject, is a tribute to the author as well. We can only hope that Near continues to toil in this field for many years to come.'
- Allen Glicksman, Contemporary Jewry
 'The writing is accessible and reasonably taut. As a narrative, it should keep readers intrigued. Sub-headings clearly mark the volume's organization. These qualities, combined with the overviews in each chapter, make the volume useful for novices and for those moderately familiar with the topic... Although the perspective and the range of topics addressed are broad, this is a history in a fairly traditional sense. More attention is paid to institutions than to experience, to leaders than to ordinary people, to economic organization than to social relations of gender or power, and to overall patterns rather than to individual kibbutzim. Palestinian Arabs are discussed from the perspective of the kibbutz movement-as neighbours, enemies, victims, and so on. Within these parameters, the strength of this volume is the way in which it places the trends and conflicts within the kibbutz movement and between the kibbutz movement and the Jewish world into perspective. This is Near's main task, and he does a fine job of it.'
Alan F. Benjamin, H-Judaic
'Eminently readable account.'
Allan E. Shapiro, Jerusalem Post Magazine
 'An important contribution to kibbutz history and a valuable resource for students and scholars.' Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Studies in Contemporary Jewry 'About ninety years after the founding of the Deganyah in 1910, Professor Henry Near has completed a pioneering and highly important enterprise: the writing of a two-volume history of the kibbutz movement ... [In comparison to previous histories of the kibbutzim], Near's originality lies in the broad scope of his research, covering all the kibbutz movements and treating various social aspects ... historic, wide-ranging, important, and interesting.'
Yuval Dror, Zmanim
 'Of great importance ... The most comprehensive history of the kibbutz movement to date.'
Yuval Dror, Zmanim

Author Information

Henry Near was Professor Emeritus in the Jewish History and Education Departments at Oranim Academic College and the University of Haifa and had been a member of Kibbutz Beit Ha’emek since 1955. He was the author of The Kibbutz and Society, 1923–1933 (1984), Studies in the Third Aliyah, 1919–1924 (with B. Ben-Avram, 1995), and Living in a Kibbutz (5th edition 1991). The prize-winning first volume of his history of the kibbutz movement appeared in 1992. He died in 2012.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover 1
Half Title2
Title Page4
List of Tables11
Note on Translation, Transliteration, and References12
Rates of Exchange and Inflation 1935–I99013
1: The Kibbutz Movement in the War 23
The War Effort24
The Politics of Mobilization27
Jewish Self-Defence34
2: The Kibbutz Movement and the Holocaust45
The European Youth Movements45
Middle Eastern Youth Movements57
The Yishuv57
The Role of the Kibbutz Movements59
Attitudes and Ideologies62
3: The War Years: Settlement, Economics, and Politics66
Immigration and Absorption66
Economic Developments73
The Politics of the Kibbutz Movements78
4: Flight and Struggle: The Pre-State Period88
The Exodus from Europe89
Revolt and Reaction: The Struggle100
Economics and Settlement, 1945-1948111
5: The War of Independence121
The War and the Kibbutzim122
The Palmach in the War of Independence131
The War of Independence and the Arab Refugees141
6: Economics, Settlement, and Politics, 1947–1949152
Settlement: The Peak of Achievement, 1948–1949159
Political Developments171
The Kibbutz Movement after the War179
7: The End of Pioneering? The Kibbutz in the 1950s181
The Crisis: Symptoms and Causes183
The Kibbutz in the State193
Successes and Failures207
8: Politics and Crisis, 1949–1954209
The Politics of the Kibbutz Me'uhad215
The Division228
The Prague Trial233
9: Towards Prosperity: Settlement, Economics, and Politics, 1954–1977238
The Religious Kibbutzim273
The Kibbutz in Israeli Society275
10: The Dilemmas of Prosperity: Social Developments, 1954–1977279
Demography and Social Change281
Patterns of Consumption307
Research and the Social Sciences322
Seventeen Fat Years325
11: Achievement and Crisis327
Seven Decades-Seven Crises327
Sources of Strength332
Sources of Weakness: Privileges and Penalties336
Elitism and its Discontents339
May 1977346
Laws of Change346
12: Twenty Years On: 1977–1995352
Politics and War352
Social Developments360
The 'New Kibbutz'364
Reflections and Conjectures368
Appendix 1: New Settlement by Movement, 1939–77375
Appendix 2: Population of Kibbutzim as Percentage of Jewish Population, 1939–77377
Appendix 3: The Kibbutz Movement 1995378
Appendix 4: Guide to Other Settlements Mentioned in this Volume385
Map: The Kibbutz Movement in 1995386