Dear Save Jerseyans,
I write this waiting for my flight to the USA to take off. Unfortuntely, I will not be arriving in Newark but rather am landing in JFK, making my journey home to Jersey an extra long schlep. I am flying from the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland – Israel, where I attended a family wedding. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony and reception on a kibbutz in northern Israel.
Kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz) are small socialist communal villages which were instrumental in settling the periphery of the country and building the Jewish state. Of the less than 300 kibbutzim the total population is around 150,000 out of a population of 7 million Israelis.
Varying degrees of of economic liberalization has changed the kibbutzim but all retain the Israeli version that down-home-farm-country feel.
Both the kibbutz where my cousins grew up in (in which I spent many summers), and my cousins husbands kibbutz (where the wedding took place), as well as the handful of other kibbutzim I have visited were envisioned as a workers paradise were everyone worked the land, pooled resources, and lived according to the old untenable Marxist maxim: “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” In the heyday of the kibbutz movement, even child rearing was done communally with children living not with their parents but with their peers in dorms known as childrens homes.
However socialist a past the kibbutzim have, there is a conservativism of sorts on them. It’s not just that people now earn their own and differing salaries from work both on and off the kibbutz, nor is it merely a rejection of the failed socio-economic principles they were founded on. Rather there is a deep faith in community and country, two values warm in any conservatives heart.
It’s not merely that everyone knows everyone else either. It’s that everyone knows everyone and leaves each other alone. Everyone is connected but in an odd, almost libertarian way, no one is in your business. For example, on my cousins kibbutz the high school class of 09 maintains a speak easy everyone on the kibbutz knows about and that is in clear violation of Israeli law. Yet on kibbutz, if its not hurting anyone and its not your business, so nu? Whats the problem? Kibbutznicks believe in their country, just not all its expansive laws.
As conservatives, we should refrain from making mockery of the law, but the can do frontiersmanship of the kibbutzim isn’t so much in defiance of the law as it is part of the spirit of those raised growing a nations food, working its soil, and whose parents and grand parents fought for its survival and security.
All the Israeli’s I have met, kibbutznicks or liberal hipsters from Tel Aviv love their country in a way only possible in small nations. The Israeli, the Armenian, the Georgian, the Czech etc… know what it is to have larger and belligerent neighbors who want to or have swallowed them up in the past. Thank God America will never know this specter, but it does inculcate a generally fiercer, definately more intense, and cross-partisan nationalism. However near universal the love of country Israeli’s share does not extend to its tax system.
With a top income tax bracket of 48 percent for people earning over 501,961 Shekels (about $131,060), the people I spoke with were severely unhappy. Moreover, while Israel may have the third largest number of companies traded on the NYSE (behind only the USA and China), according to those with whom I spoke opening and running a small business is more who you know than how well you can run your shop. This is one reason my eldest cousin and his wife moved to America where with no college “education” and a ton of can-do they are successful small business owners, own a 4 bedroom house in the burbs, and have had two sons, all of which they accomplished in less than 5 years.
Israeli’s see America as an opportunity society not bogged down by the wrong head business politics of who you know but that empowers citizens to make their own future. They see America as a true meritocracy where anyone can succeed if they put their mind and back into it.
Taxation and business climate aside, all gun lovers would enjoy Israel. It may not have a constitutional guarantee of gun ownership as we do, but Israeli’s have a whole bunch of guns. Whether on or off duty, uniformed and plain clothed soldiers on their day off, police, Civil Guard (like auxiliary police and which has been an unspoken of success at integrating Israeli-Arabs into its units), security guards, or even just regular citizens – its just not a big deal for people to be shopping with others who happen to have an M14 or M1 Carbine (the Civil Guard’s standard weapon) slung over her or his back or a glock or 1911 holstered on the hip. Though hunting in Israel is a marginal sport at best, wide spread responsible gun ownership is pervasive part of Israeli culture.
Those are my in flight thoughts and observations about Israel, I hope you have enjoyed them. Now its time for some horrid airplane movies and then some leg cramping sleep. Only 12 hours till freedom land USA!!!