How Kibbutzim Are Teaching Their Residents the Value of Free Markets

July 11 2022

Over the course of several decades, kibbutzim have introduced limited private property, unequal wages, and other reforms of their once strictly socialist systems. According to a recent study, these changes have increased individual kibbutzniks’ appreciation for economic freedom. Ilya Somin comments:

The results of the study are notable because kibbutz residents are mostly either people who were raised on the institution’s socialist values or moved there out of ideological commitment. Thus, they are far likelier to be hostile to markets and property rights than the average Israeli, or for that matter the average person in almost any liberal democratic society. And social-science research shows that most people are highly averse to evidence that cuts against their preexisting political views. Nonetheless, the superiority of market institutions over socialism is so striking that people who have direct first-hand experience of both tend to prefer the former, even in a case like this one, where they started off as strongly committed socialists. . . .

[M]ost of these kibbutzniks did not become thoroughgoing enthusiasts for laissez-faire, and they continue to support welfare-state redistribution, sometimes even more than before. But the shift in their attitudes is nonetheless striking. It is notable not just because kibbutzniks are predisposed to be hostile to market institutions, but also because the kibbutz setting was an unusually favorable one for socialism.

By contrast, moshavim, Israeli agricultural settlements that reserve a much greater role for markets and private property rights, have proved far more durable and successful, even though, as one moshavnik lamented when I visited her community in 2016, “the kibbutz has better PR” than moshavim do. The kibbutz has become famous around the world. But few people outside of Israel know what a moshav is, other than a few experts on property rights.

Read more at Volokh Conspiracy

More about: Free market, Israeli economy, Kibbutz movement

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan