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Abstract

The kibbutzim and the moshavim, Israel's agricultural communes and cooperatives, were originally set‐up in the first quarter of the last century by youngsters imbued with ideology of nation rebuilding and socialism. Two key events—the establishment of the State in 1948 and a severe financial crisis in mid 1980s—marked dramatic turns in their history. But viewed in hindsight, it seems that more profound was the undergoing life cycle: cooperation, based on ideology, was instrumental to the development of the State of Israel and its agriculture but with time, modified economic environment, withdrawal of public support, and replacement of the founding generations by their successors—ideological cooperation gave way to conventional economic forces and considerations. The paper surveys this development through economic lenses focusing in particular on the conditions that affected the willingness of the members to take part in the cooperative endeavor and on the consequences of the close financial ties between public agencies and cooperative agriculture.

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