Nevertheless, this turns out not to be the case. Very far from the public eye and from the press that follows it, a dramatic revolution has taken place over the last decade, during which the kibbutz idea recreated itself and was adapted for the 21st century.
Over the last year the turnover of kibbutz industries totaled $8 billion, around 11 percent of the total industrial manufacturing turnover in Israel. Kibbutz agriculture, which represents 35 percent of all agricultural endeavors in Israel, generated an annual sales turnover of $1.5 billion. Kibbutzim's share of Israel's gross national product (GNP) is currently six percent, and this is case given that the kibbutz population represents 1.7 percent of the total population of Israel.
If in 2000 half of the kibbutzim faced the threat of closure, today only 30 kibbutzim still face financial insecurity and all the rest are on the road to stability and growth.
Along with the financial stability, demographic stability has also come and over the last three years more the number of new members accepted in the kibbutzim has exceeded the number of those leaving. If over the years, most kibbutzim did not gain new members and the only changes registered were the number of people leaving, in the last year, there were many kibbutzim that accepted dozens of new members.
When taking into account that 75 percent of the kibbutzim in Israel are located in the periphery and are along the state's southern and northern borders, this signifies a dramatic recovery with major implications for the State of Israel's most important interests.
Over the last decade the kibbutzim underwent a series of structural changes that together generated this revolution and prompted the dramatic recovery. The basic values upon which the kibbutz was built were preserved but their implementation has changed and has been adapted to the changing times. The reinvigorated thinking and the attempt to build the kibbutz in such a way that will lead to economic improvements and again attract young people led a more suitable balance of the values on which the kibbutz was built.
Firstly, the management culture was changed. In the past, the kibbutz social and commercial decisions were all made with the full participation of the entire membership, an expression of the equality, which was perceived as a supreme value of the kibbutz, but today there is a complete separation between business dealings and community affairs.
The community continues to be run in full partnership with the entire membership when making decisions; but the business aspects are determined according to standard professional criteria in the world at large.
The job market has changed as well. In the past all kibbutz members worked in the kibbutz framework and based on the
Another change was the acquisition of personal security for kibbutz members. In the past it was common practice for a kibbutz member not to have personal possessions because everything belonged to the collective. In the wake of the shifts in the kibbutz, there is now a practice of guaranteeing an individual pension for every one and in some kibbutzim member's home have also been registered in their names.
The new kibbutz has preserved the basic values that built the kibbutz almost 100 years ago, but it achieved a more appropriate balance among those values. If in the past, there was little room for the individual's will versus the will of the collective, today there is more space for the individual and the family alongside the communal space.
The kibbutz of the 21st century is not the same kibbutz of 100 and 50 years ago, but it still is way of life that can serve as an example of a just society with equality and solidarity, more than other society in the Western world.
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