Kibbutz under fire: Back to the days of sickle and bayonet

Zeev Drory, Eyal Lewin, Eyal Ben-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For two months during the war in Gaza (summer of 2014) Hamas bombarded the kibbutzim in the vicinity using rockets and mortar shells, and exercising tunnel warfare. A century after its establishment dilemmas about kibbutz life similar to those arising during the decades of struggle were raised by members when they had to stand the test of survival under fire: with rockets and mortars landing should they stay or leave? Consequently, should those who left be referred to as "deserters" betraying the oath to stand bravely against all hazards or should they be tolerated and excused? To answer these questions, we review Israeli ideological connections of security and settlement in the Zionist Movement and the Kibbutz Movement and present quantitative and qualitative research about kibbutz members from the north and south of the country. We show that the fundamental values of the Kibbutz Movement, and particularly commitment to the collective and bearing the burden of national and societal missions, continue to exist despite growing individualism. The dual symbol of the sickle and the bayonet standing for a combination of security and settlement has not faded away. Rather it has changed its form. Going beyond this specific case study we call for a re-evaluation of the perception of conflict between seemingly contradictory orientations of contemporary kibbutz members and link our analysis to collectivist and individualist attitudes in current-day Israeli society and the kibbutz social environment in particular. We show the emergence of intertwined orientations that simultaneously promote each other in practice thus awarding significance to a new, more conditional, concept of sickle and bayonet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalIsrael Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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