Degania A, First Kibbutz in Israel, to Undergo Privatization

Members of kibbutz, founded 1910 near Lake Kinneret, vote to privatize after year-long trial period.

Eli Ashkenazi
Eli Ashkenazi
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Eli Ashkenazi
Eli Ashkenazi

Degania A, the first kibbutz established in Israel, will undergo a process of privatization, kibbutz members decided in a vote Saturday.

Members passed the privatization motion, which will include the establishment of differential salaries, by a margin of 85 percent.

The decision comes after a year-long trial period of privatization.

Degania A, located southwest of Lake Kinneret, was founded in 1910.

"Degania represented and still represents the model and the epitome of the social values of the [kibbutz] movement in Israel," said Shai Shoshani, chairman of the kibbutz management committee.

"It was very important for us to show a sense of respect to those who worked their whole lives and gave themselves to this wonderful place, as well as to create an attractive horizon to the [members'] children and the next generation," Shoshani said.

"We are certain that the quality of life of the members today, after the change, will prove a fitting response to their hard work throughout their lives," he said.

Degania A is currently defined as a "renewal kibbutz," that is, one in which members are paid differential salaries, and where apartments and property are distributed among members.

Such kibbutzim also feature a "security network" intended to ensure a reasonable quality of life to economically weaker segments of the kibbutz population.

Shoshani said the members chose to make the change "from a position of strength and of economical and social ability, and not from need or compulsion."

Several kibbutzim that are still considering the option of privatization have been in contact with Degania A to learn about changes made to its organizational structure.

"It seems that on this issue Degania will return to its historical symbolic status and will represent a model to be imitated, despite the fact that not a few kibbutzim have already undergone this or a similar change," a kibbutz spokesman said.

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