In Israel, collective farms pay nominal rents to the Jewish National Fund, which holds all land in the name of the people. Israeli collectives are based on three models. The kibbutz, the best known and most important economically, was inaugurated in 1909 as a purely agricultural collective. Light industry was added in the 1920s, and other types of businesses and tourism are now also important economically. In a traditional kibbutz, all property except specified personal possessions is collectively owned, planning and work are collective, and communal living is the rule. Work is assigned on the basis of ability; foremen are elected; and goods are distributed according to need. A town meeting governs; elected officials implement policy and administer economic and social affairs. Israel's couple hundred kibbutzim represent a wide range of political and social beliefs. Although only a small percentage of Israel's population have ever been members, the kibbutzim have wielded considerable political influence. Since the early 1980s, when the debt of kibbutzim soared, many have implemented some privatization measures, have hired rather than elected their managers, and have reduced other collective and communal elements of kibbutz life.
In the moshav ovdim, first established in 1921, each family owns its own house and leases and works its own land, retaining any income it earns. Hired labor is prohibited. Buying and selling are done collectively. In the moshav shitufi, a collective model developed in 1936, property is held communally and work is done collectively. Wealth and housing are private. Many moshav dwellers now hold nonfarming jobs in projects developed on the moshav or outside the village.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.