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WHAT? Socialism helped Israel survive?? - 11

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Would you believe it if I told you that socialism helped young Israel survive? That was what I told a conservative talk show radio host some 30 years ago, and he simply could not believe it.

Personally, I am a fan of the free market. But about 40 years before Israel become a nation, they realized that the only way they could survive was to start collective farms where everything was equal. They called these farms Kibbutzim. It comes to form the Hebrew word לקבץ l’kabets, to gather.

During my time in Israel, I’ve spent much time on kibbutzim, possibly staying in a hotel there or interviewing them about their unique area of expertise for Out of Zion (see below). While most began as farms, over the years, they’ve branched out into running event halls for weddings and bar mitzvahs or some other type of industry.

The Jewish Farmer

When the Jews returned to the promised land, it had been badly neglected by the Ottoman Empire and the Arabs who lived there. It was unfarmable. In the south, rocks had to be cleared, and in the north, malaria-infested swamps had to be drained. The Jewish people worked together for the common good.

AD Gordon is considered the father of Jewish Agricultural. He made Aliyah in the early 1900's and, while rejecting socialism, promoted the idea of the "Jewish Farmer." He understood, that of the Zionist dream to be realized, the new "olim" immigrants from Eastern Europe, who were used to city living (often forced into ghettos) would have to embrace a life of agriculture—they would have to work the land. He was quite prophetic, as Israel has indeed caused even the desert to blossom like a rose.

Degania—from the Hebrew word for grain—was the very first kibbutz located at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The idea of reclaiming the soil had become something of a religion for the early Jewish chalutizm, or pioneers. The young men and women came mostly from Eastern Europe. They were not used to physical labor and knew little about agriculture. But they had memorized the prophecies about rebuilding the land.

They overcame these odds to create the foundation for Israel’s booming agriculture. Israel is famous for her creativity, but few people believed you could grow potatoes in the desert. Kibbutz Yotvata, after failing with fruits and vegetables, determined to grow potatoes. They were told it wouldn’t work, and yet 60 years later, it is one of their main products.

By bringing the Jewish people back to this barren land, the Lord would test his people. It would take faith. Author Moshe Kempinsky says, “God says, ‘I’m going to do something miraculous—I'm going to create a land that even though those climate issues don't call for it, it's going to be a land that's going to be filled with dates and honey, and also with milk so that you know that... nothing in this land comes here except when it’s from Me.’”

Is that not what we see in the Scriptures? Did not God say that the desert will blossom like a rose? Isaiah predicted that “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit (Isa 27.6), and Ezekiel said, “The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase” (Ezek 34.27)

And did not God promise a land flowing with milk and honey?

CBN’s Julie Stahl writes, “It appears God has delivered on that promise. Despite the heat, humidity and limited resources, Israeli cows produce more milk per year than cows in the United States, European Union, and Australia.”

The aforementioned Kibbutz Yotvata is the largest milk-producing facility in the country. They were laughed at when they said they would raise cows in the desert heat. It was an impossible mission, but by 2008 they were churning out 62 million liters of milk per year.

Stahl claims that ancient honey came mainly from dates. She writes, “Today, Israel's dates are still famous throughout the world. Israel exports some 12,000 tons of dates each year to 20 countries.”

The Kibbutz movement is largely to thank for Israel’s becoming a world leader in agriculture. But it was not without controversy. Socialism is a failed economic system. The Kibbutz movement was great when Israel’s existence depended on it, but would it survive once Israel stabilized? That's a story for a future Sunday Story...

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I agree with Brian. Yet I am not happy with the term "collectivism". It is a lot better than the term Socialism but, as usual, I need to explain. The kibbutz did come about by eastern European Jews who were imbibed with European Socialism but soon in Israel found that their living together, sharing with one another, defending against the Arabs necessitating fighting shoulder to shoulder and together, and because of all this a sort of natural differentiation pushing forward to the recognition of all who was good at farming, raising of animals, taking care of the babies (naturally falling to the women, who can do the best job) at carpentry, supervising that is management, etc. etc. all these things…

Brian Kaufman
Brian Kaufman
Aug 29, 2021

Ron- I appreciate you, your messages, and your approach. I might be “splitting hairs“ but I do feel it’s important to point something out. Your title “Socialism Helped Israel…” is a bit misleading. With the dangers of socialism, the past harm it’s done, and it’s more recent popularity; much caution needs to be taken. What you described, was accurately described as collectivism- not Socialism. A free people, decided to work together (collectively), out of their own free will to increase their chance of success and survival. The government did not own, control, or regulate the means for production, distribution, or trade. And the government left them alone VS taking away these wonderful pioneers freedom. How wonderful it…

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Shalom from Israel! I am Ron Cantor and this is my blog. I serve as the President of Shelanu TV.

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