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Issues of the Day Mr. Romney’s Kibbutz

If an article in today’s issue of The Jewish Daily Forward has it right, the presumptive Republican candidate for the US presidency, Mitt Romney, is scornful of kibbutzim, which he allegedly characterizes as diminutive places devoid of “individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises.” 


That view is grossly misinformed: It was the enterprising dreamers of labor Zionism -- not people in pursuit of profit and material wealth -- who founded the State of Israel. The society that the founders forged was based on agricultural and industrial collectives, trade unionism, and an extensive social welfare network that provided waves of immigrants with public education, healthcare and affordable housing.

Kibbutzim were the pioneering settlements that determined the living borders of the country. Kibbutz members were the mainstay of the officers corps and the elite fighting units of the Israel Defense Forces that struggled for and maintained our independence.  


The dignity of labor, not capital, was the ethos that pervaded the country until the 1977 elections when the Likud-Liberal coalition came to power and instituted the program that, sadly, transformed Israeli society into one with gaping inequalities and afflicted with social injustice.


Mitt Romney and Benyamin Netanyahu share a great deal ideologically and apparently in their approach to politics: History and reality are trivial concerns compared to gaining and holding power. But for those of us who have to live with the consequences of such aloofness, it is necessary that we remind leaders that obfuscation is incapable of destroying truth.  

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved