Question about Israel after WWII

Old Sep 12th, 2020, 02:06 PM
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Question about Israel after WWII

I'm reading a book Before Memories Fade about a Romanian Jewish woman who emigrates to Israel after the war and lives on a kibbutz. I am curious about the conditions in Israel in the early days of Jewish immigration. I know nothing about Israel at that time. I took a trip to Israel during the mid-to-late 60's, but it was focused more on Christian religious sites and Biblical sites than on the recent history. I did notice that the areas where the Israelis lived were much more cultivated and "civilized"(?) than the areas where the Palestinians lived.

At the time I assumed that the Israelis were more modern and more ambitious than the Palestinians. Later it occurred to me that it was possible that the Israelis settled in the more advantageous areas.

A young neighbor of mine from Spokane, Tim Durkin, traveled to Israel and lived on a kibbutz for a time, and he told me a little about life on the kibbutz but very little about the land itself.

Can anyone aim me in the right direction so I can learn more about the physical challenges of the Kibbutzim? Any books?
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Old Sep 13th, 2020, 06:36 AM
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Of course it's a very big subject and experiences will vary enormously. I'd probably start with a "big picture" overview using the Jewish Virtual Library (an invaluable resource) - https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...bbutz-movement .

We visited some of my late wife's family on several occasions, at their home at Degania Alef, the first kibbutz, founded in 1909 on land previously acquired from Ottoman owners with funds supplied by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild. (If your tour included a visit to the Yardenit baptism site at the mouth of the Jordan River as it exits Lake Kinneret/Sea of Galilee, you've been there.) Degania is on land suitable for a fairly wide range of agricultural activities - livestock, dates, bananas, etc. - but of course not every kibbutz was sited as fortunately. Many were developed on very marginal land - desert for the most part - and for various reasons. Some were created by the Zionist movements before World War II, and others were created (or hugely accelerated) by the arrival of refugees following the Holocaust.

So generalizing is quite impossible; the experiences of the pioneers very much depended on the specifics - where did they go, when did they get there, etc. While Israel is a small country, it's extremely diverse geographically, so comparing an agricultural kibbutz like Degania with one in the Negev or near the Dead Sea... well, you can imagine.

I'm not going to comment on the visual appearance differences between the various parts of Israel. If you were there in the "mid to late 60s" then of course things are hugely different now, and economic disparities, often very big ones, exist between predominantly Jewish and predominantly Muslim parts of the country. Big and difficult topic.
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Old Sep 13th, 2020, 10:16 AM
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Thanks for the link. I appreciate it. I'd love to go back to Israel and explore more of the country. It must have been in 1967 or later, when I was there, as I recall seeing orange or brown painted tanks or trucks (or something similar) situated by the side of the road, I think left there as sort of memorials of the six day war.

Life really is wasted on the young. At the time I visited Israel, I was interested in traveling but didn't know much about history, even recent history. Now, when I'm very interested in history, I'm getting too old to travel much.
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Old Oct 11th, 2020, 03:46 PM
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Hi Peg, you bring up some interesting questions and Gadyloo correctly points out their complexities in his excellent response. It is not clear if you are wondering about Jewish migration to Israel in general or just following WW ll. If the former keep in mind that there have been Jews living there constantly since before Roman times although for long periods of time the population was small. One significant period of Jewish migration was at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. My point is that return to the biblical homeland has ebbed and flowed over millennia.
It is a common misconception that the immigration to the area then called Palestine (during the British mandate both Jews and Arabs were considered Palestinian as attested to by my uncle’s passport issued in the 1930s whose family resided in Jerusalem since the mid 19th century.). WWll saw a large immigration of displaced Jews from Europe but also from surrounding Arab countries/territories, e.g., Egypt, Syria, Yemen in the late 50s, Libya, etc. These people were often culturally Arab in many respects and often economically similar to the surrounding Arab population. So, it is possible that the people living in disadvantaged situations that you saw may have been Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

As far as kibbutzim not all are agricultural, some are industrial. A few years ago we visited a cousin of DW who lives in an industrial Ikibbutz in the north near the Golan. At the time she was assigned as a cook, lived in a nice house with garden. The other houses were also single family with gardens. That kibbutz had an infirmary, nursing home, gym, dining area and pretty much met member needs. It was nicely landscaped as well.
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Old Oct 13th, 2020, 08:19 AM
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Thanks for the responses, folks. Maybe if I suddenly lose 20 years of age, I can go there and explore.

That doesn't seem likely, though, does it?
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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Pegontheroad View Post
Thanks for the responses, folks. Maybe if I suddenly lose 20 years of age, I can go there and explore.

That doesn't seem likely, though, does it?

I can't do anything about the 20 years, but if you Google JNF Virtual Israel Tour you can join a virtual busload of tourists with guide for a zoom tour of Israel for $50. Tour is one hour per evening MON -Thurs and covers the entire country including places most tourists never see. There is also a virtual dinner included with your fellow tourists.
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