• I visited Kibbutz Ein Harod in Israel in May 2012 – I also revisited the nearby Kibbutz Massada, where I had spent two months as an 18-year-old volunteer in 1995.

    The kibbutz I had such fond memories of is now semi-derelict. The international volunteers had been replaced by Thai guest workers.

    While in Ein Harod, I was very struck by how the Israeli mentality is shaped by their own definition of freedom; what it means to be free, what price is worth paying for that freedom, and how important freedom is to one’s sense of identity.

    The kibbutz is still a very potent symbol of that definition of freedom; and both are unique to Israel.

    Yet the kibbutz are changing; out of step with a modern, increasingly consumerist society, their collective ideals have been abandoned – and their political role of settling the land has been taken over by more fundamentalist settler communities in the occupied territories.

    Perhaps in some way their position reflects the majority of Israelis; tired of the fight, yet defined by their circumstances, they are aware that the future is uncertain, but they continue as they are – because, well, what is the alternative?

  • Gil Becker is an electrician on Ein Harod kibbutz.

    Here he talks about what the kibbutz means to him and his country.

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