This volume continues the narrative account of the history of the kibbutz movement from the outbreak of the Second World War onwards. This period included a number of dramatic and complex developments: the effects of the world war and the Holocaust on the kibbutzim and their youth movements; the political struggles which led to the end of the British mandate; the War of Independence, including the role of the Palmach and the political controversy it engendered; the crises which followed the establishment of the State of Israel and the politics of the kibbutz movement in the early years of independence; and the kibbutzim’s gradual adaptation to their new position in Israeli society and to the problems and challenges of a multi-generational society in the late twentieth century.
Although the detailed narrative ends in 1977 (when the Israeli political system, and the status of the kibbutz, underwent a radical change), it is followed by a detailed overview describing the many developments which took place between 1977 and 1995.
Much of the material is new in any language, and virtually all is new in English. Throughout, economic developments, immigration and agricultural settlement, political and ideological issues, and internal social developments are presented as interdependent and as vitally affected by—and often affecting—the changing fortunes of the Jewish people, the Zionist movement, and the Jewish community in Palestine/Israel. But the kibbutzim are also presented as a special instance of a widespread social phenomenon: communal and co-operative societies.
'Near's achievement in writing this work is to have produced the first complete history of the kibbutz movement in English ... Near accomplished it with what seems like an effortless ability ... Near does an outstanding job of making intelligible issues that may not have been clear even to all of the contemporary Zionists who struggled with them ... Near had made a major contribution not only to the history of the kibbutz but to the comprehensive history of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. The fact that he is a kibbutz member, yet can write so critically and objectively about his subject, is a tribute to the author as well. We can only hope that Near continues to toil in this field for many years to come.'
- Allen Glicksman, Contemporary Jewry
'The writing is accessible and reasonably taut. As a narrative, it should keep readers intrigued. Sub-headings clearly mark the volume's organization. These qualities, combined with the overviews in each chapter, make the volume useful for novices and for those moderately familiar with the topic... Although the perspective and the range of topics addressed are broad, this is a history in a fairly traditional sense. More attention is paid to institutions than to experience, to leaders than to ordinary people, to economic organization than to social relations of gender or power, and to overall patterns rather than to individual kibbutzim. Palestinian Arabs are discussed from the perspective of the kibbutz movement-as neighbours, enemies, victims, and so on. Within these parameters, the strength of this volume is the way in which it places the trends and conflicts within the kibbutz movement and between the kibbutz movement and the Jewish world into perspective. This is Near's main task, and he does a fine job of it.'
- Alan F. Benjamin, H-Judaic
'Eminently readable account.'
- Allan E. Shapiro, Jerusalem Post Magazine
'An important contribution to kibbutz history and a valuable resource for students and scholars.' Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Studies in Contemporary Jewry 'About ninety years after the founding of the Deganyah in 1910, Professor Henry Near has completed a pioneering and highly important enterprise: the writing of a two-volume history of the kibbutz movement ... [In comparison to previous histories of the kibbutzim], Near's originality lies in the broad scope of his research, covering all the kibbutz movements and treating various social aspects ... historic, wide-ranging, important, and interesting.'
- Yuval Dror, Zmanim
'Of great importance ... The most comprehensive history of the kibbutz movement to date.'
- Yuval Dror, Zmanim
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