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Avoda Ivrit Definition

Kibbush_Haavoda- (Hebrew) Conquest of labor: slogan and program adopted during the second and third Aliya  in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine. the Land of Israel. It had two meanings. The first was to return Jews to manual and agricultural work rather than trades and professions. The second was to prefer Jewish workers over Arabs in Jewish farms and industries in Palestine. The immigrants of the First Aliya were mostly plantation owners who preferred Arab work, leaving no employment for Jews. Subsequent  immigrants arrived with the ideals of socialist Zionism, but reality was not favorable to implementing those ideas. The Zionist movement attempted to find them work. but the new immigrants , who had no training in agriculture and poor physical stamina, were unable to compete with Arab peasants.  Arabs certainly would not hire Jewish workers, who could not work well and could not speak Arabic.  Arab labor was also preferred by the plantation and vineyard owners of the First Aliya. Arabs were experienced and hard workers, and were able to work for much lower wages because they were often members of an extended family that made its main income from sharecropping. The plantation owners had also developed a superior colonialist mentality which suited the hiring of "natives," and clashed with the egalitarian ideas and social demands of the newly arrived socialists. Kibbush Ha'avoda, along with the Avoda Ivrit slogan encouraged hiring of Jewish workers and blocked hiring of Arabs. The Histadrut Labor Union, an all-Jewish union for many years, was formed to protect the rights of Jewish workers.

Beginning in the 1930s, Kibbush Ha'avoda gained increasing, though partial successes. By 1936, only 14.6% of the labor force in the Jewish sector was Arab, 35% in the agricultural sector.

The policy was based in part on the need for places of work for the large number of Jewish immigrants arriving in Palestine, in part on socialist ideals of the redemptive power of labor and of making the Jews into a "normal" people who had a Jewish proletariat, and in part on a desire not to become exploiters of Arabs. Ben Gurion explained:

 “We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland”   (David Ben-Gurion to Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami 1934), quoted in Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs: From Peace to War, London: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 140).

Kibbush Ha'avoda was based on central tenets of Zionist-socialist theory. According to these ideas, analyzed in detail by Ber Borochov (Poalei Tziyon - Our Platform), the Jewish problem resulted in part from the fact that Jews were excluded from the "real" economic life of other countries- they could not get jobs in heavy industry or example, or own such industries. This resulted in "non-proletarianization" of the Jews. On the other hand, Borochov maintained that Jewish national revival and the building of a Jewish state depended on the existence of a Jewish Proletariat. Without the Conquest of Labor, this would have been impossible. While not all factions of Zionist-Socialism were Marxist, all accepted these basic tenets. In the event, it was in fact the Jewish workers movement and in particular the Kibbutzim, which boredisproportionate responsibility for Jewish self defense in the Haganah and Palmach, and for creating the institutions of the Jewish state in the making.

After Arab riots broke out, there were security concerns about hiring Arabs as well. The Jewish population and labor force were much smaller than the Arab population and labor force during most of the mandatory period. Therefore, Jewish hiring practices could not have had a serious impact on the Arab economy.  However, the policy of Kibbush Haavoda was a source of  pain to Arabs who found themselves locked out of work, and this was exploited by demagogues in the Palestine Arab uprising or Arab Revolt. These charges ignored the fact that Zionist investment and buying power had in fact fueled a dramatic rise in the Arab standard of living as well as development of Palestine infrastructure that benefited both populations. Today it has become standard practice among anti-Zionists to criticize Conquest of Labor  as Zionist "Apartheid." They neglect to mention that Arabs did not hire Jews. 

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Conquest of Labor, Kibbush Avoda, Avodah Ivrith

Further Information:  Histadrut  General History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel Avoda Ivrit  Labor and Socialist Zionism Arab Revolt Zionism and Its Impact

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

Definitions of Zionism  General History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel   History of Israel and Zionism   Historical Source Documents of Israel and Zionism

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