In the early 20th century, socialist Zionist zeal inspired Jewish pioneers in the Land of Israel to form collective farms known as kibbutzim. In them all property was held in common, children were raised communally, and the maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was strictly observed. Economic theory would seem to suggest that kibbutzim would fail, but they did not. And although no more than a small proportion of Israelis lived in them at any given time, although many have switched from agricultural pursuits to industry and high-tech, and although they have abandoned the most radical forms of collectivism, they continue to thrive and have played a major role in Israeli society. The economists Ran Abramitzky and Russell Roberts discuss the kibbutz’s history and the reasons for its success. (Audio, 67 minutes.)
How Kibbutzim Succeeded Despite the Laws of Economics
The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power
This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:
[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.
Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .
Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .
The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.