After nearly a century, Israel’s first kibbutz calls time on communism

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DEGANIA, Galilee, Israel -- When Eliezer Gal arrived at Israel’s first kibbutz he had already served in the Red Army as a platoon tank commander at the siege of Leningrad, escaped to West Berlin after being marked down by Stalin for the labour camps and been turned away by the British when he arrived in Palestine aboard the Jewish refugee ship Exodus.

Mr Gal took a lowly job in the cow shed for 18 years and married Michal, a daughter of the kibbutz’s founders, raising his family in the pastoral version of Zionist communism.

Now, aged 82, he is living one final adventure, which he and the other members of Degania call Shinui (The Change). The kibbutz has just voted to privatise itself and assume the trappings of capitalism.

His verdict? “It’s a lot more comfortable. We get a lot more independence, both economically and generally...

“I’m only surprised that it survived for so long. I came from the Great Mother of Communism and she only lasted 70 years. We made it to nearly a hundred.”

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