Saturday, 26 April 2008


"We looked death straight in the face, and it lowered its eyes before us"
Shmuel Gonen ('Gorodish'), commander of the 7th Brigade in the 6-Day War

"If you can't face death you can run. But remember, if you run, you can't run just a mile. You must run a thousand miles."
Attributed to Haganah officers addressing recruits - from Israel there's nowhere to retreat to

"He would wake up with a hundred ideas. Of them ninety-five were dangerous; three more were bad; the remaining two, however, were brilliant."
Ariel Sharon [on Moshe Dayan]

"Courage is a special kind of knowledge; the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared."
David Ben-Gurion, 1st prime minister

"In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."
David Ben-Gurion, 1st prime minister

"Now you'll be able to aim better".
[Jocularly, while visiting a wounded soldier, who lost an eye]
Ezer Weizman, former Airforce commander and State President

interviewer Sam Donaldson: "But on Friday, you were very pessimistic. You said, 'No good,' when someone asked you how things were going."
PM Ehud Barak: "No, I'm saying even now, if I have to summarize the situation - in one word it's good, in two words, not good."
[an Israeli figure of speech]
Attribution: Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on ABC News, September 10, 2000


-A legal decision depends not on the teacher's age, but on the force of his argument.
-A tree in the desert is still a tree.
-Better an ounce from the ground than a pound from the roof.
-Breed not a savage dog, nor permit a loose stairway.
-Do not attempt to confute a lion after he's dead.
-Don't use the conduct of a fool as a precedent.
-Doubt cannot override a certainty.
-He who promiseth runs in debt.
-He who sacrifices a whole offering shall be rewarded for a whole offering; he who offers a burnt-offering shall have the reward of a burnt-offering; but he who offers humility to God and man shall be rewarded with a reward as if he had offered all the sacrifices in the world.
-Into the well which supplies thee with water, cast no stones.
-Iron sharpens iron; scholar, the scholar.
-The world is only saved by the breath of the school children.
-Throw no stones into the well whence you have drunk.
-Underneath the wings of the seraphim are stretched the arms of the divine mercy, ever ready to receive sinners.
-Trust not your own powers till the day of your death.
-Join the company of lions rather than assume the lead among foxes.
-Sheep follow sheep.
-The burden is equal to the horse's strength.
-Let your left hand turn away what your right hands attracts.
-When choosing a wife look down the social scale; when selecting a friend, look upwards.


For the sake of peace one may lie, but peace itself should never be a lie.

God said: you must teach, as I taught, without a fee.

He that gives should never remember, he that receives should never forget.

Live well. It is the greatest revenge.

Never expose yourself unnecessarily to danger; a miracle may not save you...and if it does, it will be deducted from your share of luck or merit.

Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.

Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.


Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (March 19, 1821October 20, 1890) was an English explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, linguist, poet, hypnotist, fencer and diplomat. He was known for his travels and explorations within Asia and Africa as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages.

Burton's best-known achievements include traveling in disguise to Mecca, making an unexpurgated translation of The Book of One Thousand Nights and A Night (the collection is more commonly called The Arabian Nights in English because of Andrew Lang's abridgment) and the Kama Sutra and journeying with John Hanning Speke as the first white men guided by the redoubtable Sidi Mubarak Bombay to discover (for himself and his contemporaries) the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. He was a prolific author and wrote numerous books and scholarly articles about subjects including travel, fencing and ethnography.

He was a captain in the army of the East India Company serving in India (and later, briefly, in the Crimean War). Following this he was engaged by the Royal Geographical Society to explore the east coast of Africa and led an expedition guided by the locals which discovered Lake Tanganyika. In later life he served as British consul in Fernando Po, Damascus and, finally, Trieste. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded a knighthood (KCMG) in 1886.

Early life and education (1822–1841)

Burton was born in Torquay, Devon, at 9:30 p.m. on 19 March 1821 (in his autobiography, he erroneously claimed to have been born in the family home at Barham House in Elstree in Hertfordshire). His father, Captain Joseph Netterville Burton, 36th Regiment, was an Irish-born British army officer of Anglo-Irish extraction, the son of the Rev. Edward Burton, a Church of Ireland clergyman from Westmorland, England, and an Irish mother; his mother, Martha Baker, was an heiress of a wealthy Hertfordshire squire, Richard Baker. He had two siblings, Maria Katherine Elizabeth Burton and Edward Joseph Burton. He was baptised on 2 September 1821 at Elstree Church in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

Burton's family travelled considerably during his childhood. In 1825, his family moved to Tours, France; over the next few years, they traveled between England, France and Italy. Burton's early education was provided by various tutors employed by his parents. He showed an early gift for languages and quickly learned French, Italian and Latin, as well as several dialects, such as the Neapolitan dialect. During his youth, he was rumored to have carried on an affair with a young Romani (Gypsy) woman, even learning the rudiments of her language. Some adduce this as a possible reason why he was able later in life to learn Hindi and other Indic languages almost preternaturally quickly, as Romani is related to this language family. However, these same Indian languages are members of the Indo-European family of languages, along with English, French and German. The peregrinations of his youth may have encouraged Burton to regard himself as an outsider for much of his life. As he put it, "Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause..."

Burton entered Trinity College, Oxford, in the autumn of 1840. Despite his intelligence and ability, he soon antagonized his teachers and peers. During his first term, he is said to have challenged another student to a duel after the latter mocked Burton's moustache. Burton continued to gratify his love of languages by studying Arabic; he also spent his time learning falconry and fencing. In 1842, he attended a steeplechase in deliberate violation of college rules and subsequently dared to tell the college authorities that students should be allowed to attend such events. Hoping to be merely "rusticated"— that is, suspended with the possibility of reinstatement, the punishment of some less provocative students who had visited the steeplechase— he was instead permanently expelled from Trinity College. In a final jab at the environment he had come to despise, Burton reportedly trampled the College's flower beds with his horse and carriage while departing Oxford.

Army career (1842–1853)

In his own words "fit for nothing but to be shot at for six pence a day",Burton enlisted in the army of the East India Company at the behest of his ex-college classmates who were already members. He hoped to fight in the first Afghan war but the conflict was over before he arrived in India. He was posted to the 18th Bombay Native Infantry based in Gujarat and under the command of General Sir Charles James Napier. While in India he became a proficient speaker of Hindustani, Gujarati and Marathi as well as Persian and Arabic. His studies of Hindu culture had progressed to such an extent that "my Hindu teacher officially allowed me to wear the Janeu (Brahmanical Thread)" although the truth of this has been questioned since it would usually have required long study, fasting and a partial shaving of the head. Burton's interest (and active participation) in the cultures and religions of India was considered peculiar by some of his fellow soldiers who accused him of "going native" and called him "the White Nigger". Burton had many peculiar habits that set him apart from other soldiers. While in the army, he kept a large menagerie of tame monkeys in the hopes of learning their language. He also earned the name "Ruffian Dick" for his "demonic ferocity as a fighter and because he had fought in single combat more enemies than perhaps any other man of his time."

He was appointed to the Sindh survey, where he learned to use the measuring equipment that would later be useful in his career as an explorer. At this time he began to travel in disguise. He adopted the alias of Mirza Abdullah and often fooled local people and fellow officers into failing to recognise him. It was at this point that he began to work as an agent for Napier and, although details of exactly what this work entailed are not known, it is known that he participated in an undercover investigation of a brothel said to be frequented by English soldiers where the prostitutes were young boys. His life-long interest in sexual practices led him to produce a detailed report which was later to cause trouble for Burton when subsequent readers of the report (which Burton had been assured would be kept secret) came to believe that Burton had, himself, participated in some of the practices described within his writing.

In March 1849 he returned to Europe on sick leave. In 1850 he wrote his first book Goa and the Blue Mountains, a guide to the Goa region. He travelled to Boulogne to visit the fencing school there and it was there where he first encountered his future wife Isabel Arundell, a young Catholic woman from a good family.

First explorations and journey to Mecca (1851–1853)

Burton in Arabic dress.

Motivated by his love of adventure, Burton got the approval of the Royal Geographical Society for an exploration of the area and he gained permission from the Board of Directors of the British East India Company to take leave from the army. His seven years in India gave Burton a familiarity with the customs and behaviour of Muslims and prepared him to attempt a Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca and, in this case, Medina). It was this journey, undertaken in 1853, which first made Burton famous. He had planned it whilst travelling disguised among the Muslims of Sindh, and had laboriously prepared for the ordeal by study and practice (including being circumcised to further lower the risk of being discovered).

Although Burton was not the first non-Muslim European to make the Hajj (Ludovico di Barthema in 1503 is believed to hold that distinction), his pilgrimage is the most famous and the best documented of the time. He adopted various disguises including that of a Pashtun to account for any oddities in speech, but he still had to demonstrate an understanding of intricate Islamic ritual, and a familiarity with the minutiae of Eastern manners and etiquette. Burton's trek to Mecca was quite dangerous and his caravan was attacked by bandits (a common experience at the time). As he put it, although "...neither Koran or Sultan enjoin the death of Jew or Christian intruding within the columns that note the sanctuary limits, nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever." The pilgrimage entitled him to the title of Hajji and to wear green head wrap. Burton's own account of his journey is given in A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah (1855).

Early explorations (1854–1855)

Following his return to Cairo from Mecca, Burton sailed to India to rejoin his regiment. In March 1854, he transferred to the political department of the East India Company and went to Aden on the Arabian Peninsula in order to prepare for a new expedition, supported by the Royal Geographical Society, to explore the interior of the Somali Country and beyond, where Burton hoped to discover the large lakes he had heard about from Arab travelers. It was in Aden in September of this year that he first met Captain (then Lieutenant) John Hanning Speke who would accompany him on his most famous exploration. Burton undertook the first part of the trip alone. He made an expedition to Harar (in present day Ethiopia), which no European had entered (indeed there was a prophecy that the city would decline if a Christian was admitted inside). This leg of the expedition lasted three months, although much of the time was spent in the port of Zeila, where Burton, once again in disguise, awaited word that the road to Harar was safe. Burton not only travelled to Harar but also was introduced to the Emir and stayed in the city for ten days, officially a guest of the Emir but in reality his prisoner. The journey back was plagued by lack of supplies, and Burton wrote that he would have died of thirst had he not seen desert birds and realised they would be near water.

Following this adventure, he prepared to set out for the interior accompanied by Lieutenant Speke, Lieutenant G. E. Herne and Lieutenant William Stroyan and a number of Africans employed as bearers. However, before the expedition was able to leave camp, his party was attacked by a group of Somali tribesmen (the officers estimated the number of attackers at 200). In the ensuing fight, Stroyan was killed and Speke was captured and wounded in eleven places before he managed to escape. Burton was impaled with a javelin, the point entering one cheek and exiting the other. This wound left a notable scar that can be easily seen on portraits and photographs. He was forced to make his escape with the weapon still transfixing his head. However, the failure of this expedition was viewed harshly by the authorities, and a two-year investigation was set up to determine to what extent Burton was culpable for this disaster. While he was largely cleared of any blame, this did not help his career. He describes the harrowing attack in First Footsteps in East Africa (1856).

In 1855, Burton rejoined the army and travelled to the Crimea hoping to see active service in the Crimean War. He served on the staff of Beatson's Horse a corps of Bashi-bazouks, local fighters under the command of General Beatson, in the Dardanelles. The corps was disbanded following a "mutiny" after they refused to obey orders and Burton's name was mentioned (to his detriment) in the subsequent inquiry.

Exploring the lakes of central Africa (1856–1860)

Routes taken by the expeditions of Burton and Speke (1857–1858) and Speke and Grant (1863).

In 1856 the Royal Geographical Society funded another expedition in which Burton set off from Zanzibar to explore an "inland sea" which was known to exist. His mission was to study local tribes and to find out what exports might be possible from the region. It was hoped that the expedition might lead to the discovery of the source of the River Nile, although this was not an explicit aim. Burton had been told that only a fool would say his expedition aimed to find the source of the Nile because anything short of that would be regarded as a failure.

Before leaving for Africa, Burton became secretly engaged to Isabel Arundell. Her family would never accept the marriage since Burton was not a Catholic and was not wealthy.

Speke again accompanied him and on the 27 June 1857 they set out from the east coast of Africa heading west in search of the lake or lakes. They were helped greatly by their experienced local guide, Sidi Mubarak (also known as "Bombay"), who was familiar with some of the customs and languages of the region. From the start the outward journey was beset with problems such as recruiting reliable bearers and the defalcation of equipment and supplies by deserting expedition members. Both men were beset by a variety of tropical diseases on the journey. Speke was rendered blind for some of the journey and deaf in one ear (due to an infection caused by attempts to remove a beetle). Burton was unable to walk for some of the journey and had to be carried by the bearers.

The expedition arrived at Lake Tanganyika in February 1858. Burton was awestruck by the sight of the magnificent lake, but Speke, who had been temporarily blinded by a disease, was unable to see the body of water. By this point much of their surveying equipment was lost, ruined, or stolen, and they were unable to complete surveys of the area as well as they wished. Burton was again taken ill on the return journey and Speke continued exploring without him, making a journey to the north and eventually locating the great Lake Victoria, or Victoria Nyanza. Lacking supplies and proper instruments Speke was unable to survey the area properly but was privately convinced that it was the long sought source of the Nile. Burton's description of the journey is given in Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa (1860). Speke gave his own account in The Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1863).

Both Burton and Speke were in extremely poor health after the journey and returned home separately. As usual Burton kept very detailed notes, not just on the geography but also on the languages, customs and even sexual habits of the people he encountered. Although it was Burton's last great expedition his geographical and cultural notes were to prove invaluable for subsequent explorations by Speke and James Augustus Grant, Sir Samuel Baker, David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. Speke and Grant's (1863) exploration began on the east coast near Zanzibar again and went around the west side of Lake Victoria to Lake Albert and finally returning in triumph via the Nile River. However, crucially, they had lost track of the river's course between Lake Victoria and Albert. This left Burton, and others, unsatisfied that the source of the Nile was conclusively proven.

Burton and Speke

Lake Tanganyika photographed from orbit. Burton was the first European to see the lake.

Burton and Speke's exploration to Tanganyika and Victoria was, arguably, his most celebrated exploration but what followed was a prolonged public quarrel between the two men, which severely damaged Burton's reputation. From surviving letters it seems that Speke already mistrusted and disliked Burton before the start of their second expedition. There are several reasons why they became estranged. It seems obvious that the two men were very different in character, with Speke being more in tune with the prevailing morality of Victorian England and imperialistic attitude to other cultures. There was obviously a great element of professional rivalry. Some biographers have suggested that friends of Speke (particularly Laurence Oliphant) stirred up trouble between the two. It also seems that Speke resented Burton's position as expedition leader and claimed that this leadership was nominal only and that Burton was an invalid for most of the second expedition. There were problems with debts run up by the expedition that were left unpaid when they left Africa. Speke claimed that Burton had sole responsibility for these debts. Finally, there was the issue of the source of the Nile, perhaps the greatest prize of its day to explorers. It is now known that Lake Victoria is a source, but at the time the issue was controversial. Speke's expedition there was undertaken without Burton (who was incapacitated by several illnesses at the time) and his survey of the area was, by necessity, rudimentary, leaving the issue unresolved. Burton (and indeed many eminent explorers such as Livingstone) were very sceptical that the lake was the genuine source.

After the expedition, the two men travelled home to England separately with Speke arriving in London first. Despite an agreement between them that they would give their first public speech together, Speke gave a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in which he made the claim that his discovery, Lake Victoria, was the source of the Nile. When Burton arrived in London he found Speke being lionised, and felt his own role was being considered as that of sickly companion. Furthermore, Speke was organising other expeditions to the region and clearly had no plans to include Burton.

In the subsequent months, Speke did much to attempt to harm Burton's reputation, even going so far as to claim that Burton had tried to poison him during the expedition. Meanwhile Burton spoke out against Speke's claim to have discovered the source of the Nile, saying that the evidence was inconclusive and the measurements made by Speke were inaccurate. It is notable that in Speke's expedition with Grant he made Grant sign a statement saying, amongst other things, "I renounce all my rights to publishing... my own account [of the expedition] until approved of by Captain Speke or the R. G. S. (Royal Geographical Society)".

Speke and Grant undertook a second expedition to prove that Lake Victoria was the true source of the Nile, but again, problems with surveying and measurement meant not everybody was satisfied the issue had been resolved. On 16 September 1864 Burton and Speke were due to debate the issue of the source of the Nile in front of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at that body's annual meeting in Bath. Burton was regarded as the superior public speaker and scholar and was likely to get the better of such a debate. However, the previous day Speke died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while hunting on a relative's nearby estate. There were no direct witnesses to the shooting, and it has been widely speculated that he might have committed suicide; however, the coroner declared it to be a hunting accident. Burton was at the debate hall in Bath waiting to give his presentation when the news of Speke's death arrived and, considerably shaken, he elected not to give his planned talk.

Diplomatic service, scholarship, and death (1861–1890)

Richard and Isabel Burton's tomb at Mortlake, Surrey.

Close up of inscription on the tomb.

In January 1861, Richard and Isabel married in a quiet Catholic ceremony although he did not adopt the Catholic faith at this time. Shortly after this, the couple were forced to spend some time apart when he formally entered the Foreign Service as consul at Fernando Po, the modern island of Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. This was not a prestigious appointment; because the climate was considered extremely unhealthy for Europeans, Isabel could not accompany him. Burton spent much of this time exploring the coast of West Africa.

The couple were reunited in 1865 when Burton was transferred to Santos in Brazil. Once there, Burton traveled through Brazil's central highlands, canoeing down the Sao Francisco river from its source to the falls of Paulo Afonso.

In 1869 he was made consul in Damascus, an ideal post for someone with Burton's knowledge of the region and customs. However, Burton made many enemies during his time there. He managed to antagonize much of the Jewish population of the area because of a dispute concerning money lending. It had been the practice for the British consulate to take action against those who defaulted on loans but Burton saw no reason to continue this practice and this caused a great deal of hostility. He and Isabel greatly enjoyed their time there and befriended Lady Jane Digby, the well-known adventurer, and Abd al-Kader al-Jazairi, a prominent leader of the Algerian revolution then living in exile.

However, the area was in some turmoil at the time with considerable tensions between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim populations. Burton did his best to keep the peace and resolve the situation but this sometimes led him into trouble. On one occasion, he claims to have escaped an attack by hundreds of armed horsemen and camel riders sent by Mohammed Rashid Pasha, the Governor of Syria. He wrote "I have never been so flattered in my life than to think it would take three hundred men to kill me."

In addition to these incidents, there were a number of people who disliked Burton and wished him removed from such a sensitive position. Eventually, to resolve the situation, Burton was transferred to Trieste (then part of Austria-Hungary) during 1871. Burton was never particularly content with this post but it required little work and allowed him the freedom to write and travel.

In 1863 Burton co-founded the Anthropological Society of London with Dr. James Hunt. In Burton's own words, the main aim of the society (through the publication of the periodical Anthropologia) was "to supply travellers with an organ that would rescue their observations from the outer darkness of manuscript and print their curious information on social and sexual matters". On February 5, 1886 he was awarded a knighthood (KCMG) by Queen Victoria.

He wrote a number of travel books in this period that were not particularly well received. His best-known contributions to literature were those considered risqué or even pornographic at the time and which were published under the auspices of the Kama Shastra society. These books include The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (1883) (popularly known as the Kama Sutra), The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885) (popularly known as The Arabian Nights), The Perfumed Garden of the Shaykh Nefzawi (1886) and The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night (sixteen volumes 1886– 1898).

Published in this period, but composed on his return journey from Mecca, The Kasidah has been cited as evidence of Burton's status as a Sufi. The poem (and Burton's notes and commentary on it) contain layers of Sufic meaning, and seem to have been designed to project Sufi teaching in the West. "Do what thy manhood bids thee do/ from none but self expect applause;/ He noblest lives and noblest dies/ who makes and keeps his self-made laws" is The Kasidah's most oft-quoted passage.

Other works of note include a collection of Hindu tales, Vikram and the Vampire (1870); and his uncompleted history of swordsmanship, The Book of the Sword (1884). He also translated The Lusiads, the Portuguese national epic by Luís de Camões, in 1880 and wrote a sympathetic biography of the poet and adventurer the next year. The book The Jew, the Gipsy and el Islam was published posthumously in 1898 and was controversial since it was virulently anti-Semitic in tone and asserted the existence of Jewish human sacrifices. (Burton's investigations into this had provoked hostility from the Jewish population in Damascus, see Damascus affair. The manuscript of the book included an appendix discussing the topic in more detail, but by the decision of his widow it was not included in the book when published).

Burton died in Trieste early on the morning of 20 October 1890 of a heart attack. His wife Isabel convinced a priest to perform the last rites, although Burton was not a Catholic and this action later caused a rift between Isabel and some of Burton's friends. It has been suggested that the death occurred very late on 19 October and that Burton was already dead by the time the last rites were administered.

Isabel never recovered from the loss. After his death she burned many of her husband's papers, including journals and a planned new translation of The Perfumed Garden to be called The Scented Garden, for which she had been offered six thousand guineas and which she regarded as his "magnum opus." She believed she was acting to protect her husband's reputation, and imagined she was instructed to burn the manuscript of The Scented Garden by his spirit, but her actions have been widely condemned.
Isabel wrote a biography in praise of her husband. The couple are buried in a remarkable tomb in the shape of a Bedouin tent at Mortlake in southwest London.

The Kama Shastra Society

Burton had long had an interest in sexuality and erotic literature. However, the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 had resulted in many jail sentences for publishers, with prosecutions being brought by the Society for the Suppression of Vice (Burton referred to the society and those who shared its views as Mrs Grundy). A way around this was the private circulation of books amongst the members of a society. For this reason Burton, together with Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot, created the Kama Shastra Society to print and circulate books that would be illegal to publish in public.

One of the most celebrated of all his books is his translation of the The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (more commonly known in English as The Arabian Nights because of Andrew Lang's abridged collection) in ten volumes, (1885) with six further volumes being added later. The volumes were printed by the Kama Shashtra Society in a subscribers-only edition of one thousand with a guarantee that there would never be a larger printing of the books in this form. The stories collected were often sexual in content and were considered pornography at the time of publication. In particular, the Terminal Essay of the Nights was one of the first English language texts to dare address the practice of pederasty which he postulated was prevalent in an area of the southern latitudes named by him the "Sotadic zone." Rumors about Burton’s own sexuality were already circulating and were further incited by this work.

Perhaps Burton's best-known book is his translation of The Kama Sutra. In fact, it is not really true that he was the translator since the original manuscript was in ancient Sanskrit which he could not read. However, he collaborated with Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot on the work and provided translations from other manuscripts of later translations. The Kama Shashtra Society first printed the book in 1883 and numerous editions of the Burton translation are in print to this day.

His English translation from a French edition of the Arabic erotic guide The Perfumed Garden was printed as The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology (1886). After Richard's death Isabel burnt many of his papers, including a manuscript of a subsequent translation, The Scented Garden, containing the final chapter of the work, on pederasty. It is interesting to note that Burton all along intended for this translation to be published after his death, to provide a competence for his widow, and also, as a final gesture of defiance against Victorian society.

Scandals in the life of Richard Burton

Burton pictured later in life.

Richard Burton was always controversial and there were those in British society who would leave a room rather than associate with him[citation needed]. In his army career he was sometimes known as "Ruffian Dick" and this lack of respect for authority and convention made him many enemies and gave him a reputation in some parts as a rogue[citation needed].

Firstly, in a society where sexual repression was the norm, Burton's writing was unusually open and frank about his interest in sex and sexuality. His travel writing is often full of details about the sexual lives of the inhabitants of areas he travelled through and many of these details would have been shocking to the average Briton. Burton's interest in sexuality led him to make measurements of the lengths of the sexual organs of male inhabitants of various regions which he includes in his travel books. He also describes sexual techniques common in the regions he visited, often hinting that he had participated, hence breaking both sexual and racial taboos of his day. Many people at the time considered the Kama Shastra Society and the books it published scandalous.

Allegations of homosexuality dogged Burton throughout most of his life[citation needed], at a time when it was a criminal offence in the United Kingdom. Biographers disagree on whether or not Burton ever experienced homosexual sex (he never directly acknowledges it in his writing). These allegations began in his army days when General Sir Charles James Napier requested that Burton go undercover to investigate a male brothel reputed to be frequented by British soldiers. It has been suggested that Burton's detailed report on the workings of the brothel may have led some to believe he had been a customer.

Burton was a heavy drinker at various times in his life and also admitted to taking both hemp and opium[citation needed]. Friends of the poet Algernon Swinburne blamed Burton for leading him astray, holding Burton responsible for Swinburne's alcoholism and interest in the works of the Marquis de Sade[citation needed].

Burton was also accused of having murdered a man on his trip to Mecca. The story was that on the journey he had accidentally revealed himself as a European and killed the man (in some versions a boy) to keep his secret. While Burton often denied this, he was also given to baiting gullible listeners. Famously a doctor once asked him, "How do you feel when you have killed a man?" Burton retorted, "Quite jolly, what about you?" When asked by a priest about the same incident Burton is said to have replied "Sir, I'm proud to say I have committed every sin in the Decalogue."

These allegations coupled with Burton's often-irascible nature were said to have harmed his career and may explain why he was not promoted further, either in army life or in the diplomatic service. As an obituary described: "...he was ill fitted to run in official harness, and he had a Byronic love of shocking people, of telling tales against himself that had no foundation in fact."Ouida reported that "Men at the FO [Foreign Office]... used to hint dark horrors about Burton, and certainly justly or unjustly he was disliked, feared and suspected... not for what he had done, but for what he was believed capable of doing..." Whatever the truth of the many allegations made against him, Burton's interests and outspoken nature ensured that he was always a controversial character in his lifetime.


One of the books that I'm reading at the present time (yes, I'm reading more than one book) is Marguerite Yourcenar's MEMOIRS OF HADRIAN. In fact I'm rereading it once more: I use to go back frequently to my favourite authors and Yourcenar is one of my top 20.

Looking for something more to say about the Memoirs I stumbled with the following article in Wikipedia, so here it goes:

Memoirs of Hadrian is a novel by the French writer Marguerite Yourcenar describing the life and death of Roman Emperor Hadrian. The book was published in France in French in 1951 with the title Mémoires d'Hadrien, and was an immediate success, meeting with enormous critical acclaim. The historical Hadrian did pen an autobiography, but it has been lost to history.
The book takes the form of a letter to Hadrian's cousin and eventual successor "Mark" (Marcus Aurelius). The emperor meditates on military triumphs, love of poetry and music, philosophy, and his passion for his lover Antinous, all in a manner not inconsisent with Gustave Flaubert's "melancholy of the antique world."

Yourcenar noted in her own postscript "Carnet de note" to the original edition that she had partially chosen Hadrian as the subject of the novel because he had lived in a period of time when the Roman gods were no longer believed in, but Christianity was not yet established. This intrigued her for the obvious parallels to her own post-war European world.


"Of all our games, love’s play is the only one which threatens to unsettle our soul, and is also the only one in which the player has to abandon himself to the body’s ecstasy. …Nailed to the beloved body like a slave to a cross, I have learned some secrets of life which are now dimmed in my memory by the operation of that same law which ordained that the convalescent, once cured, ceases to understand the mysterious truths laid bare by illness, and that the prisoner, set free, forgets his torture, or the conqueror, his triumph passed, forgets his glory."

"Like everyone else I have at my disposal only three means of evaluating human existence: the study of self, which is the most difficult and most dangerous method, but also the most fruitful; the observation of our fellowmen, who usually arrange to hide secrets where none exist; and books, with the particular errors of perspective to which they inevitably give rise."

Film adaptation

A feature film based on Yourcenar's novel was scheduled for production in 2007. The movie, with a script by Ron Base, Valerio Manfredi and Rospo Pallenberg, will be directed by John Boorman. Hadrian is expected to be played by Antonio Banderas.[1] Paz Vega was also reported to be in talks to appear in the film by Production Weekly on October 21 2005.[2]


External links


(This text was taken from Wikipedia - The title above is of my responsibility)

A Kibbutz (Hebrew: קיבוץ, קִבּוּץ Translit.: kibbutz Plural: kibbutzim Translated: gathering, together) is an Israeli collective community. The movement combines socialism and Zionism in a form of practical Labor Zionism, founded at a time when independent farming was not practical or, somewhat more accurately, not practicable. Forced by necessity into communal life, and inspired by their ideology, the kibbutz members developed a pure communal mode of living that attracted worldwide interest. While the kibbutzim lasted for several generations as utopian communities, most of today's kibbutzim are scarcely distinguishable from the capitalist enterprises and regular towns to which the kibbutzim were originally supposed to be alternatives. Today, farming has been partially abandoned in many cases, with hi-tech industries very common in their place.[1]

The kibbutzim have given Israel a disproportionate share of its military leaders, intellectuals, and politicians.[2] "Although kibbutzim comprise only 5% of the Israeli population, surprisingly large numbers of kibbutzniks become teachers, lawyers, doctors, and political leaders … 75% of Israeli air force pilots … came from the kibbutz movement." The kibbutz movement never accounted for more than 7% of the Israeli population.

Ideology of the kibbutz movement

Incomers of the First Aliyah had been religious, but those of the Second Aliya, of whom the founders of Degania were a tiny subsection, were not. Although conscious of settling in the land of the Bible, these emphatically secular young people were not the type to import religious practice. The spiritualism of these early pioneers of the movement consisted of mystical explorations of a uniquely Jewish work ethic, articulated by labor Zionists like Berl Katznelson, who said, "everywhere the Jewish laborer goes, the divine presence goes with him."[3]

Kibbutz Bet Alfa in the Mandate Period.

In addition to redeeming the Jewish nation through work, there was also an element of redeeming Eretz Yisrael - Palestine - in the kibbutz ideology. In the contemporary Yiddish anti-Zionist literature that was circulating around Eastern Europe, Palestine was mocked as "dos gepeigerte land"—"the country that had died." Kibbutz members found immense gratification in bringing the land back to life by planting trees, draining swamps, and countless other hard-graft activities to make the land (invariably either mosquito swamps or desiccated scrubs) productive. In soliciting donations, kibbutzim and other Zionist settlement activities presented themselves as "making the desert bloom."

Most kibbutzim were founded upon disputed land. Like most other Jewish agricultural communities, kibbutzim were founded in three relatively small, flat, low-lying regions of the country, the upper Jordan Valley, the Jezreel Valley and the Sharon coastal plain. The land was marshy and highly fertile, but available for purchase because it was infested with malaria and thus unproductive. Most early kibbutzniks, including David ben Gurion himself, suffered from malaria. In areas of higher elevation without standing water, where mosquitos could not breed—such as the area now called the West Bank—there were few if any kibbutzim.

Members of a kibbutz, or kibbutzniks, like other participants in the Zionist movement, had not considered the possibility of conflict between Jews and Arabs over Palestine. Mainstream Zionists predicted the Arab population would be grateful for the economic benefits that the Jews would bring. The left wing of the kibbutz movement believed that the enemies of the Arab peasants were Arab landowners (called effendis), not Jewish fellow farmers. By the late 1930s as the struggle against world fascism and for a political refuge for persecuted Jews began, kibbutzniks began to assume a military role in the New Yishuv.

The first kibbutzniks hoped to be more than plain farmers in Palestine. They even hoped for more than a Jewish homeland there: they wanted to create a new type of society where all would be equal and free from exploitation. The early kibbutzniks wanted to be both free from working for others and from the guilt of exploiting hired work. Thus was born the idea that Jews would band together, holding their property in common, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Kibbutz members were not classic Marxists. Marx and Engels both shared a disdain for conventional formulations of the nation state. Although Leninists were hostile to Zionism, even in its communist manifestation, the Soviet Union, quickly recognized Israel. Later Soviet hostility largely served Moscow's diplomatic and military interests in the Arab world. Following the 1953 Doctors' plot and 1956 denouncement of Stalin's atrocities by Nikita Khrushchev in his Secret Speech, many of the remaining hard-line Kibbutzim communists rejected communism. However, to this day many Kibbutzim remain a stronghold of left-wing ideology among the Israeli Jewish population.

Although kibbutzniks practiced a form of communism themselves, they did not believe that it could work for everyone; for example, the Kibbutz political parties never called for the abolition of private property. Kibbutzniks saw their kibbutzim as collective enterprises within a free market system. Kibbutzim also practise active democracy in organisation: periodic elections are held for Kibbutz functions as well as an active participation in national elections. Kibbutzim today could even been seen as modeled upon a localized form of anarcho-syndicalist or libertarian socialist philosophy.

Kibbutzim were not the only contemporary communal enterprises: pre-war Palestine also saw the development of communal villages called Moshavim (singular: Moshav). In a moshav, marketing and major farm purchases would be done collectively, but personal lives were entirely private. Although much less famous than kibbutzim, moshavim have always been more numerous and popular than kibbutzim.

Communal life

A kibbutz meeting.

The principle of equality was taken extremely seriously up until the 1970s. Kibbutzniks did not individually own livestock, tools, or even clothing. Gifts and income received from outside were turned over to the common treasury. If a member received a gift in services—like a visit to a relative who was a dentist or a trip abroad paid for by a parent—there could be arguments at members' meetings about the propriety of accepting such a gift.

The arrival of children at a new kibbutz inevitably posed an ethical dilemma. If everything was held in common, then who was in charge of the children? This question was answered by regarding the children as belonging to all, even to the point of kibbutz mothers breastfeeding babies which were not their own. For most kibbutzim, the arrival of children was a sobering experience: "When we saw our first children in the playpen, hitting one another, or grabbing toys just for themselves, we were overcome with anxiety. What did it mean that even an education in communal life couldn't uproot these egotistical tendencies? The utopia of our initial social conception was slowly, slowly destroyed."[4]

In the 1920s kibbutzim began a practice of raising children communally away from their parents in special communities called "Children's Societies" (Mossad Hinuchi). The theory was that trained nurses and teachers would be better care-providers than amateur (and busy) parents. Children and parents would have better relationships due to the Children's Societies, since parents would not have to be disciplinarians. Also, it was hoped that raising children away from parents would liberate mothers from their "biological tragedy." Instead of spending hours a day raising children, women could thus be free to work or enjoy leisure.

There is much to be said about the role of women on kibbutzim. In the early days there were always more men than women on kibbutzim, so naturally kibbutzim tended to be male-dominated places. Memoirs of early kibbutz life tend to show female kibbutzniks as desperate to perform the same kinds of roles as kibbutz men, from digging up rocks to planting trees. At Degania at least, it seems that the men wanted the women to continue to perform traditional female roles, such as cooking, sewing, and cleaning.

Eventually the men of the kibbutz gave in and permitted - and even expected - women to perform the same roles as men, including armed guard duty. The desire to liberate women from traditional maternal duties was another ideological underpinning of the Children's Society system. Interestingly, women born on kibbutzim were much less reluctant to perform traditional female roles. It was the generation of women born on kibbutzim that eventually ended the Societies of Children. Also, although there was a "masculinization of women", there was no corresponding "feminization" of men. Women may have worked the fields, but men did not work childcare.

Social lives were held in common as well, not only property. As an example, most kibbutz dining halls exclusively utilized benches, not as an issue of cost or convenience, but because benches were construed as another way of expressing communal values. At some kibbutzim husbands and wives were discouraged from sitting together, as marriage was an expressed form of exclusivity. In The Kibbutz Community and Nation Building, Paula Rayman reports that Kibbutz Har refused to buy teakettles for its members in the 1950s; the issue being not the cost but that couples owning teakettles would mean more time spent together in their apartments, rather than with the community in the dining hall.

Unsurprisingly, the exclusively communal life proved hard for some. Every kibbutz saw new members quit after a few years. Since kibbutzniks had no individual bank accounts, any purchase not made at the kibbutz canteen had to be approved by a committee, a potentially humiliating and time-wasting experience. Kibbutzim also had their share of members who were not hard workers, or who abused common property; there would always be resentment against these "parasites." Finally, kibbutzim, as small, isolated communities, tended to be places of gossip, exacerbated by lack of privacy and the regimented work and leisure schedules.

Although major decisions about the future of the kibbutz were made by consensus or by voting, day-to-day decisions about where people would work were made by elected leaders. Typically, kibbutzniks would learn their assignments by consulting the duty sheet at the dining hall.

Kibbutz memoirs from the Pioneer era report that kibbutz meetings varied from heated arguments to free-flowing philosophical discussions, whereas memoirs and accounts from kibbutz observers from the 1950s and 1960s report that kibbutz meetings were businesslike but poorly attended.

Kibbutzim attempted to rotate people into different jobs. One week a person might work in planting, the next with livestock, the week after in the kibbutz factory and the following week in the laundry. Even managers would have to work in menial jobs. Through rotation, people took part in every kind of work, but it interfered with any process of specialization.

Children's Societies were one of the features of kibbutz life that most interested outsiders. In the heyday of Children's Societies, parents would only spend two hours a day, typically in the afternoon, with their children. In Kibbutz Artzi parents were explicitly forbidden to put their children to bed at night. As children got older, parents could go for days on end without seeing their offspring, other than through chance encounters somewhere in the grounds.

Some children who went through Children's Societies said they loved the experience, others remain ambivalent. One vocal group maintains that growing up without one's parents was very difficult. Years later, a kibbutz member described her childhood in a Children's Society:

"Allowed to suckle every four hours, left to cry and develop our lungs, we grew up without the basic security needed for survival. Sitting on the potty at regular intervals next to other children doing the same, we were educated to be the same; but we were, for all that, different… At night the grownups leave and turn off all the lights. You know you will wet the bed because it is too frightening to go to the lavatory."[5]

Aversion to sex was not part of the kibbutz ideology; to this end, teenagers were not segregated at night in Children's Societies, yet many visitors to kibbutzim were astonished at how conservative the communities tended to be. In Children of the Dream, Bruno Bettelheim quoted a kibbutz friend, "at a time when the American girls preen themselves, and try to show off as much as possible sexually, our girls cover themselves up and refuse to wear clothing that might show their breasts or in any other fashion be revealing." Kibbutz divorce rates were and are extremely low.[6] Unfortunately, from the point of view of the adults in the community, marriage rates among communally raised children were equally low. This conservatism on the part of kibbutz children has been attributed to the Westermarck effect—a form of reverse sexual imprinting that causes children raised together from an early age to reject each other as potential partners, even where they are not blood relatives.

From the beginning, Kibbutzim had a reputation as culture-friendly and nurturing of the arts. Many kibbutzniks were and are writers, actors, or artists. Kibbutzim typically offer theater companies, choirs, orchestras, athletic leagues, and special-interest classes. In 1953 Givat Brenner staged the play My Glorious Brothers, about the Maccabee revolt, building a real village on a hilltop as a set, planting real trees, and performing for 40,000 people. Like all kibbutz work products at the time, all the actors were members of the kibbutz, and all were ordered to perform as part of their work assignments.

Psychological aspects

The era of independent Israel kibbutzim attracted interest from sociologists and psychologists who attempted to answer the question: What are the effects of life without private property? What are the effects of life being brought up apart from one's parents?

Two researchers who wrote about psychological life on kibbutzim were Melford E. Spiro (1958) and Bruno Bettelheim (1969). Both concluded that a kibbutz upbringing led to individuals' having greater difficulty in making strong emotional commitments thereafter, such as falling in love or forming a lasting friendship. On the other hand, they appear to find it easier to have a large number of less-involved friendships, and a more active social life.

Bettelheim suggested that the lack of private property was the cause of the lack of emotions in kibbutzniks. He wrote, "nowhere more than in the kibbutz did I realize the degree to which private property, in the deep layers of the mind, relates to private emotions. If one is absent, the other tends to be absent as well". (See primitivism and primitive communism for a general discussion of these concepts).

Other researchers came to a conclusion that children growing up in these tightly knit communities tended to see the other children around them as ersatz siblings and preferred to seek mates outside the community when they reached maturity. Some theorize that living amongst one another on a daily basis virtually from birth on produced an extreme version of the Westermarck effect, which subconsciously diminished teenage kibbutzniks' sexual attraction to one another. Partly as a result of not finding a mate from within the kibbutz, youth often abandon kibbutz life as adults.

It is a subject of debate within the kibbutz movement as to how successful kibbutz education was in developing the talents of gifted children. Many kibbutz-raised children look back and say that the communal system stifled ambition; others say that bright children were nonetheless encouraged. Bruno Bettelheim had predicted that kibbutz education would yield mediocrity: "[kibbutz children] will not be leaders or philosophers, will not achieve anything in science or art." However, it has been noted that although kibbutzim comprise only 5% of the Israeli population, surprisingly large numbers of kibbutzniks become teachers, lawyers, doctors, and political leaders. For example 75% of Israeli air force pilots came from the kibbutz movement.[2]
Bettelheim's prediction was certainly wrong about the specific children he met at "Kibbutz Atid." In the 1990s a journalist tracked down the children Bettelheim had interviewed back in the 1960s at what was actually Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan. The journalist found that the children were highly accomplished in academia, business, music, and the military. "Bettelheim got it totally wrong."[7]

"The kibbutz is a magnifying glass for Israeli society," says Amia Lieblich, a professor of psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem[8].

Kibbutz and child rearing

In addition to reports by individual journalists or reporters, there is a large body of empirical research dealing with child rearing in kibbutzim. Such research has been critical of the way children are raised in a Kibbutz.

In a 1977 study, Fox compared the separation effects experienced by kibbutz children when removed from their mother, compared with removal from their caregiver (called a metapelet in Hebrew). He found that the child showed separation distress in both situations, but when reunited children were significantly more attached to their mothers than to the metapelet. The children protested subsequent separation from their mothers when the metapelet was reintroduced to them. However, kibbutzim children shared high bonding with their parents as compared to those who were sent to boarding schools, because in a kibbutz a child spends three hours every day with his or her parents.

In another study by Scharf,[9] the group brought up in communal environment within a kibbutz showed less ability in coping with imagined situations of separation than those who were brought up with their families. This has far reaching implications for child attachment adaptability and therefore institutions like kibbutzim. These interesting kibbutz techniques are controversial with or without these studies.

Kibbutz economics

Kibbutzim in the early days tried to be self-sufficient in all agricultural goods, from eggs to dairy to fruits to meats. Through experimentation, kibbutzniks discovered that self-sufficiency was impossible.

Kibbutzniks were also not self-sufficient when it came to capital investment. At the founding of a kibbutz, when it would be opened on land owned by the Jewish National Fund; for expansion, most kibbutzim were dependent on subsidies from charity or the State of Israel. Most of the subsidies took the form of low-interest loans or discounted water. In Israel, when interest rates were routinely over 30% until the 1990s and where water is expensive, these gifts came to a very great amount indeed.

Even prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, kibbutzim had begun to branch out from agriculture into manufacturing. Kibbutz Degania, for instance, set up a factory to fabricate diamond cutting tools; it now grosses several million dollars a year. Kibbutz Hatzerim has a factory for drip irrigation equipment. Hatzerim's business, called Netafim, is a multinational corporation that grosses over $300 million a year. Maagan Michael branched out from making bullets to making plastics and medical tools. Maagan Michael's enterprises earn over $100 million a year. A great wave of kibbutz industrialization came in the 1960s, and today only 15% of kibbutz members work in agriculture.

Kibbutzim industrialized at a time when agricultural jobs were not enough to absorb everyone on the kibbutz. Kibbutzim also industrialized due to pressure from the State of Israel. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Israel had one of the world's highest trade deficits, the state was desperate to increase exports and kibbutzim were asked to play a role.

The hiring of seasonal workers was always a point of controversy in the kibbutz movement. During harvest time, when hands were needed, the permissibility of hiring external workers was considered. Most kibbutzim compromised with practical exigencies and began the practice of hiring non-kibbutzniks when work was at its peak.

Hiring non-Jews was especially contentious. The founders of the kibbutz movement wanted to redeem the Jewish nation through work, and hiring non-Jews to do hard tasks would not be consistent with that idea. In the 1910s Kibbutz Degania vainly searched for Jewish masons to build their homes. Only when they could not find Jewish masons willing to endure the malaria of their location did they hire Arabs.

Today, kibbutzim have changed dramatically. Only 38% of kibbutz employees are kibbutz members. By the 1970s, kibbutzim were frequently hiring Palestinians. Currently, Thais have replaced Palestinians as the non-Jewish physical work element at kibbutzim. They are omnipresent in various service areas and in factories.

This factory at Kibbutz Hanita makes contact lenses.

As kibbutzim branched out into manufacturing in the 1960s, they are branching out into tourism and services today. Kibbutz Hatzerim even has a law firm. Virtually every kibbutz has guest rooms for rent. Some of these rooms are spartan and are intended for travelling students, but Kiryat Anavim has a luxury hotel with a view. Several kibbutzim, such as Kibbutz Lotan and Kfar Ruppin, operate bird-watching vacations. They say that a European visitor can see more birds in one week in Israel than he or she would in a year at home. It is not lost on the modern kibbutz movement that kibbutzniks today are working in occupations which the first kibbutz generation condemned.

Contrary to the predictions of classical economics, kibbutzim had no dearth of entrepreneurship. Many kibbutzim aggressively put money into building new enterprises, even playing the stock market. This borrowing spree caught up to the kibbutz movement in the 1980s, forcing kibbutzim to retreat from collective ideas. Today, most kibbutzim are at the economic break-even point, a dozen or so are very wealthy, and several score lose money. Many people who live on kibbutzim have to work outside the kibbutz. They are expected to return a percentage of their earnings to the collective.

Urban kibbutzim

Main article: Urban kibbutz

Since the 1970s around 100 urban kibbutzim have been founded within existing cities. They have no enterprises of their own and all of their members work in the non-kibbutz sector.[10] Examples include Tamuz in Jerusalem or Migvan in Sderot.



Kibbutz Dan, near Kiryat Shmona, in the Upper Galilee, 1990s

Conditions were hard for all subjects of the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but they were especially difficult for Jews. It was the underlying policy of the Russian government in its May Laws to "cause one-third of the Jews to emigrate, one-third to accept baptism, and one-third to starve."[11] Except for a wealthy few, Jews could not leave the Pale of Settlement; within it, Jews could neither live in large cities, such as Kiev, nor any village with fewer than 500 residents, even if a person needed rural medical recuperation. In case any Jews made their way into Moscow, in 1897 the Moscow Chief of Police offered a bounty for the capture of an illegal Jew equal to the capture of two burglars.[12]

The Tsarist government disproportionately conscripted Jews into the Russian army. While in other countries soldiers of all kinds would be honored, in Russia Jewish soldiers suffered severe discrimination. Jews had to leave the Pale of Settlement to serve with their units, but when their units were given furlough, Jews had to return to the Pale of Settlement, even if their service was in the Russian Far East. There were other laws in effect which allowed the expulsion of Jewish families that had no breadwinner. During the Russo-Japanese War, many magistrates in Ukraine took advantage of the fact that Jewish men were away at the front to expel their families. This was a step too far for the Russian government. The Interior Minister at the time, Vyacheslav Plehve, rebuked his subordinates, saying "the families of mobilized Jews should be left in their places of residence, pending the termination of the war."[12]

Most ominously, beginning in the aftermath of the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, the Russian autocracy allowed and encouraged its discontented peasants to take out their frustrations on their Jewish neighbors. In May 1882, Tsar Alexander III issued the so-called "May Laws." The May Laws forbade Jews to live in towns with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants and systematized the anti-Jewish quotas that kept thousands of Jews out of the professions and out of university. The consequence of the residency laws was that hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from towns and villages that their families had resided in for generations. The turn of the century marked a high point for Jewish oppression in Russia.

Jews responded to the pressures on them in different ways. Some saw their future in a reformed Russia and joined Socialist political parties. Other Jews saw the future of Jews in Russia as being out of Russia, and thus emigrated to the West. Other Jews took little notice of the changing world and continued in orthodoxy. Still other Jews took the opposite course and became assimilationists. Last but not least among the ideological choices that presented themselves to Jews in late 19th century Russia was Zionism, the movement for the creation of a Jewish homeland in the cradle of Judaism, Palestine, or, as Jews called it, Eretz Yisrael.

Prior to this time of increased persecution, Jews had gone to Palestine either late in life to die or as young people to attend the various yeshivas clustered in Jerusalem and Hebron. These individuals were religious and had no political ambitions. In fact, instead of having livelihoods, they relied on charitable contributions of Jews from abroad.

Although Zionism's antecedents can be traced back into distant Jewish history, the ideology emerged as a significant force in Jewish life only in the 1880s. In that decade approximately 15,000 Jews, mostly from southern Russia, moved to Palestine with the two intentions of living there, as opposed to dying and being buried there, and of farming there, as opposed to studying. This movement of Jews to Palestine in the 1880s is called the "First Aliyah".

Zionism is usually understood to mean a kind of nationalism, but Zionism also had economic and cultural aspects. Zionism's chief economic program was for Jews to abandon inn-keeping, pawn-brokering, and petty selling in favor of a return to the land and its cultivation.

The first aliyah: Biluim agricultural settlements in the 1880s were the forerunners of the kibbutz movement

The Jews of the First Aliya generation believed that Diaspora Jews had sunk low due to their typical disdain for physical labor. Their ideology was that the Jewish people could be "redeemed"—physically as well as spiritually—by toiling in the fields of Palestine. It was believed that the soil of Palestine had magical properties to metamorphosize feeble Jewish merchants into strong, noble farmers. In 1883 the London (UK) newspaper The Jewish Chronicle wrote of the new Jewish agriculturalist in Palestine that he had been transformed from "the pallid, stooping Jewish pedlar and tradesman of a few months back … into the bronzed, horny-handed, manly tiller of the soil."[13]

In harmony with the "religion of labor," the Biluim manifesto proudly called for the "encouragement and strengthening of immigration and colonization in Eretz Yisrael through the establishment of an agricultural colony, built on cooperative social foundations." In harmony with the yet unnamed ideology of Zionism the Biluim called for the "polico-economic and national spiritual revival of the Jewish people in Palestine."

The Biluim came to Eretz Yisrael with high hopes of success as a peasant class, but their enthusiasm was perhaps greater than their agricultural ability. Within a year of living in Palestine the Biluim had become dependent on charity, just as their scholarly brethren in Jerusalem were. The difference between the charity that sustained the Biluim and the charity that sustained the scholars was that the Biluim used donations for land and agricultural equipment purchases.

Thanks to donations of regular Jews who read the above quotation from the Jewish Chronicle and extremely wealthy Jews such as Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, the Biluim were able to eventually prosper. Their towns, Rishon LeZion, Rehovot and Gedera developed into dynamic communities while their culture of labor evolved: instead of cultivating the soil on their own land, the Biluim hired Arabs to work the land in their place. The much-heralded economic revolution had yet to occur.

The Second Aliya and founding the first kibbutzim

Pogroms flared up once again in Russia in the first years of the 20th century. In 1903 at Kishinev peasant mobs were incited against Jews after a blood libel. Riots again took place in the wake of Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Revolution. The occurrence of new pogroms inspired yet another wave of Russian Jews to emigrate. As in the 1880s, most emigrants went to the United States, but a minority went to Palestine. It was this generation that would include founders of the kibbutzim.

Like the members of the First Aliya who came before them, most members of the Second Aliya wanted to be farmers in the Trans-Jordan. Those who would go on to found the kibbutzim first went to a village of the Biluim, Rishon LeZion, to find work there. The founders of the kibbutz were morally appalled by what they saw in the Jewish settlers there "with their Jewish overseers, Arab peasant laborers, and Bedouin guards." They saw the new villages and were reminded of the places they had left in Eastern Europe. Instead of the beginning of a pure Jewish commonwealth, they felt that what they saw recreated the Jewish socioeconomic structure of the Pale of Settlement, where Jews functioned in clean jobs, while other groups did the dirty work.[14]

Yossef Baratz, who went on to found the first kibbutz, wrote of his time working at Zikhron Yaakov:

We were happy enough working on the land, but we knew more and more certainly that the ways of the old settlements were not for us. This was not the way we hoped to settle the country—this old way with Jews on top and Arabs working for them; anyway, we thought that there shouldn't be employers and employed at all. There must be a better way.[15]

Though Yossef Baratz and other laborers wanted to farm the land themselves, becoming independent farmers was not a realistic option in 1909. As Arthur Ruppin, a proponent of Jewish agricultural colonization of the Trans-Jordan would later say, "The question was not whether group settlement was preferable to individual settlement; it was rather one of either group settlement or no settlement at all."[16]

Ottoman Palestine was a harsh environment, quite unlike the Russian plains the Jewish immigrants were familiar with. The Galilee was swampy, the Judean Hills rocky, and the South of the country, the Negev, was a desert. To make things more challenging, most of the settlers had no prior farming experience. The sanitary conditions were also poor. Malaria was more than a risk, it was nearly a guarantee. Along with malaria, there were typhus and cholera.

In addition to having a difficult climate and relatively infertile soils, Ottoman Palestine was in some ways a lawless place. Nomadic Bedouins would frequently raid farms and settled areas. Sabotage of irrigation canals and burning of crops were also common. Living collectively was simply the most logical way to be secure in an unwelcoming land.

On top of considerations of safety, there were also those of economic survival. Establishing a new farm in the area was a capital-intensive project; collectively the founders of the kibbutzim had the resources to establish something lasting, while independently they did not.

Finally, the land that was going to be settled by Yossef Baratz and his comrades had been purchased by the greater Jewish community. From around the world, Jews dropped coins into little "Blue Boxes" for land purchases in Palestine. Since these efforts were on behalf of all Jews in the area, it would not have made sense for their land purchases to be conveyed to individuals.
In 1909, Yossef Baratz, nine other men, and two women established themselves at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee near an Arab village called "Umm Juni." These teenagers had hitherto worked as day laborers draining swamps, as masons, or as hands at the older Jewish settlements. Their dream was now to work for themselves, building up the land. They called their community "Kvutzat Degania", after the cereals which they grew there. Their community would grow into the first kibbutz.

The founders of Degania worked backbreaking labor attempting to rebuild what they saw as their ancestral land and to spread the social revolution. One pioneer later said "the body is crushed, the legs fail, the head hurts, the sun burns and weakens." At times half of the kibbutz members could not report for work. Many young men and women left the kibbutz for easier lives in Jewish Trans-Jordan cities or in the Diaspora.

Despite the difficulties, kibbutzim grew and proliferated. By 1914, Degania had fifty members. Other kibbutzim were founded around the Sea of Galilee and the nearby Jezreel Valley. The founders of Degania themselves soon left Degania to become apostles of agriculture and socialism for newer kibbutzim.

Kibbutzim during the British Mandate

The fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, followed by the arrival of the British, brought with it benefits for the Jewish community of Palestine and its kibbutzim. The Ottoman authorities had made immigration to Palestine difficult and restricted land purchases. Rising anti-semitism forced many Jews to flee Eastern Europe. To escape the pogroms, tens of thousands of Russian Jews immigrated to Palestine in the early 1920s, in a wave of immigration that was called the "Third Aliya."

After the Bolshevik consolidation of power, Jews of Russia and Ukraine could not emigrate. In the rest of the 1920s Jewish immigrants to Palestine would come from the rest of Eastern and Central Europe, the "Fourth Aliya." These Third and Fourth Aliya immigrants would actually do more for the growth of the kibbutz movement than the immigrants of previous immigration groups.

Partly based on German youth movements and the Boy Scouts, Zionist Jewish youth movements flourished in the 1920s in virtually every European nation. Youth movements came in every shade of the political spectrum. There were rightist movements like Betar and religious movements like Chabad, but most of these Zionist youth movements were socialist such as Dror, Brit Haolim, Kadima, Habonim (now Habonim Dror), and Wekleute. Of the leftist youth movements the most significant in kibbutz history was to be the Marxist Hashomer Hatzair. In the 1920s the left-oriented youth movements would become feeders for the kibbutzim.

In contrast to those who came as part of the Second Aliya, these youth group members had some agricultural training before embarking. Members of the Second Aliya and Third Aliyas were also less likely to be Russian, since emigration from Russia was closed off after the Russian Revolution of 1917. European Jews who settled on kibbutzim between the World Wars were from other countries in Eastern Europe, including Germany. Finally, the members of the Third Aliya were to the left of the founders of Degania, and believed that voluntary socialism could work for everyone. They considered themselves to be a vanguard movement that would inspire the rest of the world.

Degania in the 1910s seems to have confined its discussions to practical matters, but the conversations of the next generation in the 1920s and 1930s were free-flowing discussions of the cosmos. Instead of having a meeting in a dining room, meetings were held around campfires. Instead of beginning a meeting with a reading of minutes, a meeting would begin with a group dance. Remembering her youth on a kibbutz by the Sea of Galilee, a woman remembered "Oh, how beautiful it was when we all took part in the discussions, [they were] nights of searching for one another—that is what I call those hallowed nights. During the moments of silence, it seemed to me that from each heart a spark would burst forth, and the sparks would unite in one great flame penetrating the heavens…. At the center of our camp a fire burns, and under the weight of the hora the earth groans a rhythmic groan, accompanied by wild songs."[17]

Kibbutzim founded in the 1920s tended to be larger than the kibbutzim like Degania which were founded prior to World War I. Degania had had twelve members at its founding. Ein Harod, founded only a decade later, began with 215 members.

Altogether kibbutzim grew and flourished in the 1920s. In 1922 there were scarcely 700 individuals living on kibbutzim in Palestine. By 1927 the kibbutz population was approaching 4,000. By the eve of World War II the kibbutz population was 25,000, 5% of the total population of the yishuv.

The growth of kibbutzim allowed the movement to diversify into different factions, although the differences between kibbutzim were always smaller than their similarities. In 1927, some new kibbutzim that had been founded by HaShomer Hatzair banded together to form a countrywide association, Kibbutz Artzi. For decades, Kibbutz Artzi would be the kibbutz left wing. In 1936, the Kibbutz Artzi Federation founded its own political party called the Socialist League of Palestine but generally known as Hashomer Hatzair. It merged with another left-wing party to become Mapam once the state of Israel was established.

Artzi kibbutzim were also more devoted to equality of the sexes than other kibbutzim. A 1920s, 1930s era kibbutz woman would call her husband ishi—"My man"—rather than the usual Hebrew word, ba'ali, which literally means "My owner."

In 1928 Kibbutz Degania and other small kibbutzim formed together a group called "Chever Hakvutzot", the "Association of Kvutzot." Kvutzot kibbutzim deliberately stayed under 200 in population. They believed that for collective life to work, groups had to be small and intimate, or else the trust between members would be lost. Kvutzot kibbutzim also lacked youth-group affiliations in Europe.

The mainstream of the kibbutz movement became known simply as "United Kibbutz", or "'Kibbutz Hameuhad." Kibbutz Hameuhad accused Artzi and the kvutzot of elitism. Hameuhad criticized Artzi for thinking of itself as a socialist elite, and they criticized the kvutzot for staying small. Hameuhad kibbutzim took in as many members as they could. Givat Brenner eventually came to have more than 1,500 members.

Festivals were and are a part of kibbutz life. Here children at Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim are dressed for Shavuot, the First Fruits holiday.

There were also differences in religion. Kibbutz Artzi kibbutzim were secular, even staunchly atheistic, proudly trying to be "monasteries without God." Most mainstream kibbutzim also disdained the Orthodox Judaism of their parents, but they wanted their new communities to have Jewish characteristics nonetheless. Friday nights were still "Shabbat" with a white tablecloth and fine food, and work was not done on Saturday if it could be avoided. Later, some kibbutzim adopted Yom Kippur as the day to discuss fears for the future of the kibbutz. Kibbutzim also had collective bar mitzvahs for their children.

If kibbutzniks did not pray several times a day, kibbutzniks marked holidays like Shavuot, Sukkot, and Passover with dances, meals, and celebrations. One Jewish holiday, Tu B'shvat, the "birthday of the trees" was substantially revived by kibbutzim. All in all, holidays with some kind of natural component, like Passover and Sukkoth, were the most significant for kibbutzim.

The kibbutz movement developed an overtly religious faction late in its history, a group now called the Religious Kibbutz Movement. The first religious kibbutz was Ein Tzurim, founded in 1946. Ein Tzurim was first located by Safad, then by Hebron in what is now the West Bank, then finally in the Negev. Religious kibbutzim are obviously religious, but they were and are no less collectivist than secular kibbutzim. Some religious kibbutzim now identify with the "hippie Hasidism" of rabbis like Shlomo Carlebach.

Kibbutzim in Israeli statebuilding

A member of Kibbutz Ma'abarot on guard duty, 1936

In Ottoman times kibbutzim worried about criminal violence, not political violence. The lack of Arab hostility was due to the small number of Jews in the country at the time. Arab opposition increased as the Balfour Declaration and the wave of Jewish aliyas to Palestine began to tilt the demographic balance of the area. There were bloody anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem in 1921 and in Hebron in 1929. In the late 1930s Arab-Jewish violence became virtually constant, a time called the "Great Uprising" in Palestinian historiography.

During the Great Uprising kibbutzim began to assume a more prominent military role than they had previously. Rifles were purchased or manufactured and kibbutz members drilled and practiced shooting. Yigal Allon, an Israeli soldier and statesman, explained the role of kibbutzim in the military activities of the yishuv.

The planning and development of pioneering Zionist were from the start at least partly determined by politico-strategic needs. The choice of the location of the settlements, for instance, was influenced not only by considerations of economic viability but also and even chiefly by the needs of local defense, overall settlement strategy, and by the role such blocks of settlements might play in some future, perhaps decisive all out struggle. Accordingly, land was purchased, or more often reclaimed, in remote parts of the country.[18]

Kibbutzim also played a role in defining the borders of the Jewish state-to-be. By the late 1930s when it appeared that Palestine would be partitioned between Arabs and Jews, kibbutzim were planted in remote parts of the Mandate to make it more likely that the land would be incorporated into the Jewish state (which was called eventually Israel), not a Palestinian Arab state. Many of these kibbutzim were founded, literally, in the middle of the night. In 1946, on the day after Yom Kippur, eleven new "Tower and Stockade" kibbutzim were hurriedly established in the northern part of the Negev to give Israel a better claim to this arid, but strategically important, region.

Not all kibbutzniks worked to expand the amount of territory that would be given to the Jewish state. The leftwing, Marxist faction of the kibbutz movement, Kibbutz Artzi, was the last major element in the yishuv to favor a binational state, rather than partition. Kibbutz Artzi, however, still wanted free Jewish immigration, which the Arabs opposed.

Kibbutzniks were considered to have fought very bravely in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, emerging from the conflict with enhanced prestige in the nascent State of Israel. Members of Kibbutz Degania were instrumental in stopping the Syrian tank advance into the Galilee with homemade gasoline bombs. Another kibbutz, Maagan Michael, manufactured the bullets for the Sten guns that won the war. Maagan Michael's clandestine ammunition factory was later separated from the kibbutz and grew into TAAS (Israel Military Industries).

Kibbutzim in independent Israel

The establishment of Israel and flood of Jewish refugees from Europe and the Muslim world presented challenges and opportunities for kibbutzim. The immigrant tide offered kibbutzim a chance to expand through new members and inexpensive labor, but it also meant that Ashkenazi kibbutzim would have to adapt to Jews whose background was far different from their own.

The first challenge that kibbutzim faced was the question of how to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern Jews, or mizrahi. Until the 1950s, nearly all kibbutzniks were from Eastern Europe, culturally different from their cousins from places like Morocco, Tunisia, and Iraq. Many kibbutzim found themselves hiring Mizrahim to work their fields and expand infrastructure, but not actually admitting very many as members. Since few mizrahi would ever join kibbutzim, the percentage of Israelis living on kibbutzim peaked around the time of statehood.

Another dispute occurred solely over ideology. Israel had been initially recognized by both the USA and the Soviet Union. For the first three years of its existence, Israel was in the Non-Aligned Movement, but David Ben-Gurion gradually began to take sides with the West. The question of which side of the Cold War Israel should choose created fissures in the kibbutz movement. Dining halls segregated according to politics and a few kibbutzim even saw Marxist members leave. This controversy cooled once Stalin's cruelty became better known and once it became clear that the Soviet Union was systematically anti-Semitic. The disillusionment particularly set in after the Prague Trials in which an envoy of Hashomer Hatzair in Prague was tried in an anti-Semitic show trial.

Yet another controversy in the kibbutz movement was the question over Holocaust reparations from West Germany. Should kibbutz members turn over income that was the product of a very personal loss? If Holocaust survivors were allowed to keep their reparation money, what would that mean for the principle of equality? Eventually, many kibbutzim made this one concession to inequality by letting Holocaust survivors keep all or a percentage of their reparations. Reparations that were turned over to the collective were used for building expansion and even recreational activities.

Kibbutz Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea, was founded by the Nahal in 1953.

Kibbutzniks enjoyed a steady and gradual improvement in their standard of living in the first few decades after independence. In the 1960s, kibbutzim actually saw their standard of living improve faster than Israel's general population. Most kibbutz swimming pools date from the good decade of the 1960s.

Kibbutzim also continued to play an outsize role in Israel's defense apparatus. In the 1950s and 1960s many kibbutzim were in fact founded by an Israel Defense Forces group called Nahal. Many of these 1950s and 1960s Nahal kibbutzim were founded on the precarious and porous borders of the state. In the Six-Day War, when Israel lost 800 soldiers, fully 200 of them were from kibbutzim. The prestige that kibbutzniks enjoyed in Israel in the 1960s was reflected in the Knesset. When only 4% of Israelis were kibbutzniks, kibbutzniks made up 15% of Israel's parliament.[19]

As late as the 1970s, kibbutzim seemed to be thriving in every way. Kibbutzniks performed working class, or even peasant class, occupations, yet enjoyed a middle class lifestyle.


Decline of the kibbutz movement

Kibbutzim have gradually and steadily become less collectivist in the past twenty years. Rather than the principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", kibbutzim have adopted "from each according to his preferences, to each according to his needs."
The first changes to be made were in utilities and in the dining hall. When electricity was free, kibbutzniks had no incentive to save energy. People would leave their air conditioners running constantly. In the 1980s, kibbutzim began to meter energy usage. Having kibbutzniks pay for energy usage required that kibbutzniks actually have personal money. Hence returned private accounts.

Eating arrangements also had to change. When food was free, people had no incentive to take the appropriate amount. Every kibbutz dining hall would end the night with enormous amounts of extra food; often this food would be fed to the animals. Now 75% of kibbutz dining halls are pay as you go a la carte cafeterias.

Kibbutzniks see their neighbors more than most other Israelis, but they have begun to live private lives. Most kibbutz dining halls are no longer even open for three meals a day. Kibbutz families have DVD players and the Internet like other Israeli families[citation needed]. Group activities are much less well attended than they were in the past. Instead of all-night discussions of cosmic issues, kibbutz general meetings are now infrequently scheduled.

Perhap the most dramatic example of how kibbutzim have abandoned the principle of equality is the implementation of differential salaries. A manager of a factory would now receive a much larger personal allowance than a factory worker, or agricultural worker.

In the 1970s nearly all kibbutzim abandoned Children's Societies in favor of the traditional nuclear family. The reasons were many. Some kibbutzim believed that communal life for children led to psychological problems; some said that giving up one's children was too great a sacrifice for parents. The children themselves said that they remembered being fearful at night in the dark, away from their parents.

Although kibbutzim abandoned the Children's Societies, kibbutz children do not grow up like their non-kibbutz peers. Many kibbutzim give children their own apartments when they turn sixteen. Other kibbutzim still have Children's Societies for youngsters who are older than twelve.
Since the late 1970s kibbutzim have lost prestige in the eyes of non-kibbutz Israelis. The image of the kibbutznik has gone from self-sacrificing pioneer and guardian of the state's borders to that of a non-mainstream, idealistic, subsidized consumer.

There are several causes of the loss of prestige. One reason is Israel’s Mizrahi, Sephardi, and religious populations have become larger and more assertive. For various reasons, kibbutzim never attracted large numbers of non-Ashkenazi Jews. By the 1980s, when virtually every other institution in Israel was fully integrated between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, kibbutzim stood out as Ashkenazi bastions. Kibbutzim, nearly all of which are secular, also have become less respected as Israel has become more religious. In the 1980s, kibbutzim were not allowed to participate in the absorption of Ethiopian Jews, as there were fears that the secularism of the kibbutzim would influence the religiosity of the Ethiopian immigrants.

Kibbutz industrialization in the 1960s led to an increase in the kibbutz standard of living[20], but that increase in the standard of living meant an end to the self-sacrifice which regular Israelis had so admired. In his 1977 campaign for prime minister, Menachem Begin attacked kibbutzniks as “millionaires with swimming pools” and was rewarded with the right's first ever electoral victory.

Finally, the need for government bailouts harmed the kibbutz image. In the 1970s and early 1980s Israel experienced hyperinflation—up to 400% per year. During that period kibbutzim borrowed excessively with the expectation that inflation would virtually eliminate their debts. When the Israeli government implemented an austerity program that brought inflation down to 20% per year kibbutzim were left with billions in debt that they could not repay. The ensuing bail-out by the government, banks, and profitable kibbutzim cost the kibbutz movement considerable respect.

Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava adds environmentalism to the ideological legs of the kibbutz movement. This wall is made from recycled materials.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a bad time for the kibbutz movement as the kibbutz population aged and shrank.

Kibbutz Glil Yam, near Herzliya, petitioned the court regarding privatization.

In 1999, 8 members of kibbutz Beit Oren, applied to the High Court of Justice, to order theregistrar of cooperative societies, to declassify Beit Oren as a kibbutz and reclassify it as a different kind of cooperative society. The petitioners argued, that the Kibbutz had dramatically changed its life style, having implemented differential salaries, closing the communal dining room, and privatizing the educational system and other services. These changes, did not fit the legal definition of a kibbutz, and in particular, the principle of equality in consumption. Consequently, the registrar of cooperative societies, who has the authority to register and classify cooperative societies, should change the classification of kibbutz Beit Oren.The kibbutz responded that it still maintained the basic principles of a kibbutz, but the changes made were vital to prevent a financial collapse and to improve the economic situation.

This case resulted in the Government establishing a committee to recommend a new legal definitions that will suit the development of the kibbutz, and to submit an opinion on the ifallocation of apartments to kibbutz members. The committee submitted a detailed report with two new legal classifications to the settlements known today as kibbutzim. The first classification was named 'communal kibbutz' which was identical to the traditional definition of a kibbutz. The second classification, was called the 'renewing kibbutz', which included developments and changes in lifestyle, provided that the basic principles ofmutual guarantee and equality are preserved.In light of the above, the committee recommended that instead of the curent legal definition ofkibburz, two different determinations will be created, as follows, a) communal kibbutz: a society for settlement, being a separate settlement, organized on the basis of collective ownership of possession, of self employment, and of equality and cooperation in production, consumption and education, b) renewing kibbutz: a society for settlement, being a separate settlement, organized on the basis of collective partnership in possession, of self employment, and of equality and cooperation in production, consumption and education, that maintains mutual guarantee among its members, and its articles of association includes, some or all of the following:

1-relative wages according to the individual contribution or to seniority allocation of apartments

2-allocation of productive means to its members, excluding land, water

3-productive quotas, provided that the cooperative society will maintain control over the productive means and that the articles of association restrict the negotiability of allocated productive means.[21]

Yet there were still areas of vibrancy in the movement. In that time, several new kibbutzim were founded in the Arava, in far southern Israel, near Eilat. One notable Arava kibbutz is Samar, though this particular kibbutz was founded in 1976.[22]

Kibbutz Samar does not call itself an anarchist kibbutz, but in effect that is what it is. Instead of members being assigned to various tasks, members work where they feel they are needed, without any formal assignment. While Kibbutz Samar no longer has an open cash box, members do have a communal credit card account shared by all members. Each family's spending is monitored, and while some families spend more than others during certain periods, the small size and the tight-knit community allows the kibbutz to keep the spending under control. Kibbutz Samar maintains a trust among members that is seldom seen in other kibbutzim.

Kibbutzniks no longer expect to transform the rest of Israel, or the globe, into one large collectivist project, but they have not given up on changing the world in smaller ways. Kibbutzniks are prominent in Israel's environmental movement. Some kibbutzim try to generate all their power through solar cells. Kibbutzniks are also prominent among Israel's peace activists.

Beginning in 2003 the kibbutz population began to rebound from its long decline. The increase in population that began that year has continued to the present. Most kibbutzim that are seeing an increase in population are reformed kibbutzim.

While some kibbutzim lose money, kibbutzim are an integral part of Israel's defense apparatus, particularly those kibbutzim which lie in border areas. It is likely that the Israeli government will continue to support them for military as well as political and historical reasons. Kibbutzniks defend subsidies by pointing out that every developed nation subsidizes its agriculture.


In his history of Palestine under the British Mandate, One Palestine, Complete, the post-Zionist "New Historian" Tom Segev wrote of the kibbutz movement:

The kibbutz was an original social creation, yet always a marginal phenomenon. By the end of the 1920s no more than 4,000 people, children included, lived on some thirty kibbutzim, and they amounted to a mere 2.5% of Palestine’s Jewish population. The most important service the kibbutzim provided to the Jewish national struggle was military, not economic or social. They were guardians of Zionist land, and their patterns of settlement would to a great extent determine the country’s borders. The kibbutzim also had a powerful effect on the Zionist self-image.[23]

Segev’s view might be cynical, but he is correct that the story of Tel Aviv, which, coincidentally, was founded in the same year as Degania, would be more representative of the yishuv experience than the stories of the kibbutzim.

Kibbutzim have been criticized for falling short of living up to their own ideals. Most kibbutzim are not self-sufficient and have to employ non-kibbutz members as farm workers (or later factory workers). What was particularly controversial was the employment of Arab labourers while excluding them from the possibility of joining the Kibbutz as full members.

In more recent decades, some kibbutzim have been criticized for "abandoning" socialist principles and turning to capitalist projects in order to make the kibbutz more self-sufficient economically. Kibbutz Shamir owns an optical products company that is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Numerous kibbutzim have moved away from farming and instead developed parts of their property for commercial and industrial purposes, building shopping malls and factories on kibbutz land that serve and employ non kibbutz members while the kibbutz retains a profit from land rentals or sales. Conversely, kibbutzim which have not engaged in this sort of development have also been criticized for becoming dependent on state subsidies to survive.
Nonetheless, kibbutzniks played a role in yishuv society and then Israeli society, far out of proportion to their population. From Moshe Dayan to Ehud Barak, kibbutzniks have served Israel in positions of leadership. David Ben Gurion lived most of his life in Tel Aviv, but Kibbutz Sde Boker, in the Negev, was his spiritual home.

Kibbutzim also contributed greatly to the growing Hebrew culture movement. The poet Rachel rhapsodized on the landscape from viewpoints from various Galilee kibbutzim in the 1920s and 1930s. The kibbutz dream of "making the desert bloom" became part of the Israeli dream as well.

Likewise, kibbutzim disproportionately affect the views that the rest of the world has of Israel and the image Israelis have of their country. One reason socialists were very supportive of Israel in its first two decades of existence was that kibbutzim represented socialism in its purest form. Books and movies about Israel, from James Michener's The Source to Leon Uris' Exodus, all feature kibbutzniks prominently. The stereotypical image of the kibbutznik—tanned and wearing a "zimple" sunhat with a fold-down brim—became the stereotypical image of all Israelis, even being used in anti-Zionist propaganda. As for the image Israelis have of themselves, once, when asked what he proposed doing about the thousands of Israelis who did not have enough food to eat, Prime Minister Ehud Barak proposed that Israelis simply open their pantries to the hungry, as if Israel were one big kibbutz.

Since there are still over 250 kibbutzim in Israel, it may be premature to address the legacy of the kibbutz movement. However, although there may be hundreds of entities in Israel calling themselves kibbutzim, the collectivist impulse is gone. As the largest secular collectivist movement ever, kibbutzim arguably prove that the model itself is economically sustainable, while the ideological fervor has not been so. It should be concluded that the future of the kibbutz should be left to unfold.

See also

2-^ a b Model troubled U.S. schools on Israeli kibbutz. Virginian-Pilot (2006-02-06). Retrieved on 2008-02-29.

3-^ Segev, Tom. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. Metropolitan Books, 2000, p. 255.

4-^ Segev, Tom. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. Metropolitan Books, 2000, p. 254.
5-^ Gavron, Daniel. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000, p. 168.

6-^ Bettelheim, Bruno. The Children of the Dream, Simon & Schuster, 2001, p. 243.

7-^ Gavron, Daniel. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000, p. 166.

9-^ Scharf M. "A Natural Experiment in Childrearing Ecologies and Adolescents Attachment and Separation Representations", Child Development, January 2001, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 236–251(16).

10-^ An Urban Kibbutz in Jerusalem The Jewish Advocate, 7 March 2008
11-^ Elliot Rosenberg, "But Were They Good for the Jews?", Birch Lane Press, November 1997, p. 182

12-^ a b Dubnow, S.M. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America,1920, Volume III, p. 15.

13-^ Silver-Brody, Vivienne. Documentors of the Dream: Pioneer Jewish Photographers in the Land of Israel 1890–1933. Magnes Press of the Hebrew University, 1998, pp 33, 36.

14-^ Gavron, Daniel. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000, p.19.

15-^ Baratz, Joseph. A Village by the Jordan: The Story of Degania. Tel Aviv: Ichud Habonim, 1956, p. 52.

16-^ Rayman, p. 12

17-^ Gavron, Daniel. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000, p. 45.

18-^ quoted in Rayman, pp.27–28.

19-^ Bettelheim, Bruno. The Children of the Dream, Simon & Schuster, 2001, p. 15.

22-^ samar

23-^ Segev, Tom. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. Metropolitan Books, 2000, p.252.

Further reading

.Baratz, Joseph. A Village by the Jordan: The Story of Degania. Tel Aviv: Ichud Habonim, 1956.

.Bettelheim, Bruno. The Children of the Dream. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-7432-1795-0
Dubnow, S.M. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1920. ISBN 1-886223-11-4

.Fox, N. A. "Attachment of Kibbutz Infants to Mother and Metapelet", Child Development, 1977, 48, 1228-1239.

.Gavron, Daniel. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000.

.LaQueur, Walter. A History of Zionism. New York: MJF Books, 1972. ISBN 0-8052-1149-7

.Mort, Jo-Ann and Brenner, Gary. "Our Hearts Invented a Place: Can Kibbutzim Survive in Today's Israel?" New York and London: Cornell University Press, 2003.

.Scharf M. "A Natural Experiment in Childrearing Ecologies and Adolescents Attachment and Separation Representations", Child Development, January 2001, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 236–251(16).

.Scher A.; Hershkovitz R.; Harel J. "Maternal Separation Anxiety in Infancy: Precursors and Outcomes", Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 1998, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 103–111(9).

.Segev, Tom. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. Metropolitan Books, 2000. ISBN 0-8050-4848-0

.Silver-Brody, Vivienne. Documentors of the Dream: Pioneer Jewish Photographers in the Land of Israel 1890–1933. Magnes Press of the Hebrew University, 1998. ISBN 0-8276-0657-5

.Ulian, Richard. Report on Two Israeli Farm Communes. Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Scholar of the House dissertation, 1950. 169 pp.

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