Friday, May 2, 2008

Holy Agriculture--Holy Land

The "eyes of the beholder."

Cosmic X has a great post about agriculture in Israel. It brings to mind, at least my mind, how the Israeli establishment reacted to the riches--the Holy Land--liberated in the Six Days War. This is what I wrote as a comment:

Excellent post.
One thing to think about, after the 6 Days War, the Israeli establishment, dominated by the kibbutz priorities, looked at the liberated land only in terms of its agricultural potential. That's why the only places populated were the Golan, the Jordan Valley and Northern Sinai. There were no plans for Judea & Samaria. There was no appreciation for the historical nor security value of the Land.

When we made aliyah in 1970, three years after the war, there were hardly any options for those who wanted to live in the liberated Land, besides agricultural kibbutzim and moshavim. The government invested very heavily in them, subsidizing everything to try to encourage people to move there. Actually, kibbutz living was also subsidized giving the residents a standard of living well above what was available in the cities.

A lot of money was wasted. Friends of ours who lived in a moshav shitufi, an agricultural community less communal than a kibbutz, told us stories of how their lazy neighbors didn't like them, because they had the nerve to work hard, instead of just doing minimal labor and accepting the subsidies. The sand was amazingly fertile; by adding just a bit of water, everything grew.

Northern Sinai and the Jordan Valley were especially prized by the government, because summer crops could be grown in the winter and exported to Europe for a lot of money.

The recruitment of people to live and work there was mostly based on financial advantages, not on idealism, Land of Israel Zionism or even security considerations. Begin gave Egypt the Sinai and destroyed even the most successful of the Jewish communities there, and the uncertainties and insecurities, due to government policies, have sucked the energy out of the Jordan Valley. Only the Golan is thriving.

Post Six Days War governments have never truly encouraged Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. All of the initiatives have come from idealistic Jews. The first two were in Gush Etzion and Hebron. The children who had been exiled from Gush Etzion during Israel's War of Independence jumped at the opportunity to return, and the legendary Levinger's, Rabbi Moshe and his wife Miriam, organized the Passover in Hebron from which they never left.

Today there are dozens of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, and many, like Gush Shiloh (the block of communities surrounding Shiloh) have agriculture, too, vineyards, olives, orchards and more.


Cosmic X said...

Thanks for the link, Muse!

Batya said...

cos, my pleasure