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  Originally, a special type of Israeli agricultural community (plural: kibbutzim). The kibbutz movement began in the early twentieth century and was one of the principal means whereby Jews recolonized Palestine (Rayman, 1981). Early proponents combined elements of Zionism (the belief that Jewish people must exercise self-determination by creating a Jewish-majority nation-state in Palestine) and European socialism (Mittleberg, 1988). Kibbutzim were established in rural areas both to introduce Jewish settlers to agriculture and to gain territorial control. The new settlements were collectives and were autonomous from the surrounding (often hostile) Palestinian-Arab community; many were protected by stockades and watchtowers. Decisions on each kibbutz were collectively reached, meals eaten in common, and children were usually educated, housed and raised in communal facilities. After 1948, the military role of kibbutzim waned and was replaced by a stronger emphasis on mechanization and export-oriented agriculture. Many also established factories to augment their crop and livestock production. Standards of living rose as more land was acquired and a state-controlled water distribution was introduced (a system that privileged kibbutzim). In recent years, this standard has been difficult to maintain, especially after the near economic collapse that occurred in Israel in the 1980s (Warhurst, 1996).

Increasingly, the collectivist ideologies of the kibbutz are redefined as more formalized management structures and new income-generating initiatives are introduced (Maron, 1994; Warhurst, 1996). Recent statistics suggest that fewer than half of all children born on kibbutzim remain there, and less than 2.5 per cent of the Israeli population now live a kibbutz lifestyle. Still, new (small-scale) kibbutzim are being created and the movement continues to be a powerful national symbol, both for Israelis and the thousands of tourists who elect to visit and work on kibbutzim each year. (DH)

References Maron, S. 1994: Recent developments in the kibbutz: an overview. Journal of Rural Cooperation 22: 1-17. Mittleberg, D. 1988: Strangers in paradise: the Israeli kibbutz experience. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books. Rayman, P. 1981: The kibbutz community and nation building. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Warhurst, C. 1996: The management of production and the changing character of the Kibbutz as a mode of production. Economic and Industrial Democracy 17: 419-45.

Suggested Reading Palgi, M. 1993: Kibbutz women: gender roles and status. Israel Social Science Research 8: 108-21. Rosolio, D. 1993: The impact of the economic crisis on ideology and life-style of kibbutzim. Israel Social Science Research 8: 1-10.



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