News Highlights January 2009
The beginning of 2009 has brought with it sentiments of hope and challenge.
Several governments have pumped mega dollars into their economies in an effort to revive their economies.
An era of hope began as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of American and unofficial leader of the free world.
Israelis are hoping that the new President will take an active role in the Middle East, by assisting in stabilizing the situation and in bringing about a lasting peace between Israel, a future Palestinian state and the wider Arab world.
The recent war with Gaza highlighted how urgent a just and peaceful settlement is required for Israelis and Palestinians. Some kibbutzim are close to the border with Gaza and they can play an active role in future relations with their neighbors.
In February Israelis will go to the polls to choose the majority party which will form a coalition. It is hoped this party will lead Israel along the path of peace and prosperity.
Some notable news items involving kibbutzim are as follows:
Many kibbutzim are interested in attracting new immigrants who have the professions necessary to drive the community forward.
For example, the Bait Rishon BeMoledet Program is looking for small groups of friends who wish to make Aliyah together and spend their first year on a kibbutz.
A study, work and leisure program exists on some kibbutzim and is intended for adults from all over the world who wish to learn Hebrew and become acquainted with Israel’s and the kibbutz culture and way of life.
Volunteers from all over the world are invited to apply to experience life in Israel while working on a kibbutz.
The Changing Face of the Kibbutzim
Privatization programs are continuing and just recently Kibbutz Mizra voted on such a program with 82% of those eligible voting in favor.
The Kibbutz Mizra program includes a financial security net for pensioners and for those unable to find work.
While some kibbutzim pursue the privatization route others stick to the communal structure. Kibbutz Yizrael has commenced an active program to strengthen its communal base and attract 100 new members over the next few years.
The recent war made regional cooperation more difficult.
Notwithstanding the difficulties, the Kibbutz Movement arranged for Palestinians living in Gaza to receive aid from many kibbutzim. The kibbutzim sent their soldiers to war to fight the extremists on the one hand but also tried their utmost to assist the civilian population who suffered from the war. The kibbutzim included those who were on the receiving end of daily barrages of rockets from Palestinian extremists.
On the medical front an Israeli volunteer group went to the border with Gaza to receive Palestinian children who needed advanced medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.
The Israel Defense Force made it possible for a humanitarian corridor to operate even while the war was in full swing.
The Kibbutz economy
The kibbutz economy continues to suffer as a result of the downturn in the global economy.
A company making fruit juices and employing more than 400 people has become the latest victim of the economic slowdown. The company hopes to find an overseas investor before the provisional liquidators are forced to close its doors.
On a much brighter note a large gas field has been discovered off the coast of Haifa. A kibbutz regional company has a stake in the gas field, which it is believed will supply Israel's gas needs for 15 years.
Although there has always been some cooperation among kibbutzim, the Kibbutz movement has taken a step forward by establishing a department that will actively support cooperation between kibbutzim on all levels.
Israel and the kibbutzim are looking forward to a brighter future in all fields.