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HEAVEN ON EARTH: THE RISE AND FALL OF SOCIALISM
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La greve au Creusot (1899), Jules Adler
 
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HEAVEN ON EARTH: THE RISE AND FALL OF SOCIALISM
LESSON PLANS

Grade Level 9-12

LESSON FOUR

Socialism in the Jewish Kibbutz Movement
Using interviews with the original settlers of one Israeli Kibbutz and their children, students can discuss the relationship between socialism, religious beliefs and the Zionist movement for a Jewish state.

Objectives
In this lesson students will examine the role that socialism played in unifying settlers in a Jewish Kibbutz and how attitudes toward socialism changed with subsequent generations. Students can compare the experience described by the kibbutzim of Kibbutz Ginosar with Robert Owen’s utopian community at New Harmony.

Relevant Standards
This lesson meets the following standards set by the Mid-Continent Research for
Education and Learning (http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/search.asp):

World History
 

Standard 1
Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns.
Benchmark
1. Knows how to identify the temporal structure and connections disclosed in historical narratives.

Standard 37
Understand major global trends from 1750 to 1914.
Benchmark
2. Patterns of social and cultural continuity in various societies.

Standard 43
Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up.
Benchmark
9. Understands how the Balfour Declaration affected British policy toward Palestine and the political goals of the Arab league and the Zionist Movement, and how the White Paper Reports affected Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Palestine.

Standard 44
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.
Benchmark
5. Understands the role of political ideology, religion, and ethnicity in shaping modern governments (e.g. the strengths of democratic institutions and civic culture in different countries and challenges to civil society in democratic states; how successful democratic reform movements have been inchallenging authoritarian governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; the implications of ethnic, religious, and border conflicts on state-building in the newly independent republics of Africa; significant differences among nationalist governments in Eastern Europe that have developed in the 20th century, how resulting conflicts have been resolved, and the outcomes of these conflicts).

Historical Understanding
 

Standard 2
Understands the historical perspective.
Benchmark
1. Analyzes the values held by specific people who influenced history and the role their values played in influencing history.
2. Analyzes the influences specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history and specifies how events might have been different in the absence of those ideas and beliefs.
3. Analyzes the effects that specific “chance events” had on history and specifies how things might have been different in the absence of those events.
4. Analyzes the effects specific decisions had on history and studies how things might have been different in the absence of those decisions.
5. Understands that the consequences of human intentions are influenced by the means of carrying them out.
7. Knows how to avoid seizing upon particular lessons of history as cures for present ills.

Standard 6
Understands that culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of place and regions.
Benchmark
1. Understands why places and regions are important to individual human identity and as symbols for unifying or fragmenting society (e.g. sense of belonging, attachment, or rootedness; symbolic meaning of places such as Jerusalem as a holy city for Muslims, Christians, and Jews).

Materials
Print out or have students read the interviews online for Daniel Gavron, Moshe Abbes, and Noa Shamir. Play the DVD chapters listed below. The links will take you to that chapter's location within the program transcript.
 THE KIBBUTZ    7:30
 THE KIBBUTZ PART II    3:15
 THE KIBBUTZ PART III    9:15
If necessary, have students review the information on Robert Owen and New Harmony by reading his profile in the Leaders and Thinkers section of the website.

Estimated Lesson Time
2x60-minute lessons. Together the video segments total 20.5 minutes. This lesson can be done independently or in conjunction with other segments from the program focusing on socialism. Students should read the interviews outside of class after they have viewed the relevant section of the video.

Background for Teachers
The Israeli Kibbutz movement is often pointed to as one of the most successful real-world applications of socialist theory. But as the second generation of kibbutzim came of age, they desired a more market driven society with private property. Prior to the formation of Israel, groups of Zionist settlers banded together into small communities called Kibbutz. Most of the communities adopted socialism as a guiding philosophy in part as a practical response to the harsh physical environment of the border areas. Following World War II and the creation of the Israeli state, the kibbutz became a primary producer for the nation’s agricultural products as well as a source of nationalist pride. Young Israelis and Jews from the diaspora are encouraged to spend time on a kibbutz to learn the pioneering values that the kibbutz are seen to represent. The film does not address the Palestinian issues connected to Jewish settlement and independence. This could be an optional area for expansion. Students should be aware that the effects of the 1947 war on Palestinians continue to be a central source of the tensions in the middle east today. This could be an opportunity for students to explore the history of this region beyond the issues of socialism.

Daniel Gavron is an Israeli scholar who gives an overview of the kibbutz movement. Moshe Abbes is one of the early settlers of Kibbutz Ginosar. He describes the daily patterns of the kibbutz that are informed by socialism and how they have begun to change over time. His daughter Noa Shamir explains why socialism no longer holds an attraction for most of her generation.

Teaching Strategy
Play the segments from the film. Have students read the interview transcripts with Daniel Gavron, Moshe Abbes, and Noa Shamir. If necessary, you may want to review information on Karl Marx and Robert Owen so that students can compare the Kibbutz to earlier utopian communities and the fundamental concepts of socialism. Lead the students through a discussion of the issues raised by the segments. Once students are familiar with the core concepts for the material, proceed to the activity below.

Discussion Questions

  1. After reading the interviews, why do you think socialism was a popular model for the founders of Kibbutz Ginosar?
  2. In what way does the economic and political structure of the kibbutz embody the principles outlined by Marx and Engels?
  3. How is Kibbutz Ginosar similar and different from Robert Owen’s utopian community at New Harmony, Indiana?
  4. Why do you think the children of the early kibbutzim like Moshe’s daughter Noa, moved away from socialist principles?
  5. What role did religion play in the kibbutz?
  6. Do you think the kibbutz could have survived on a secular basis?
  7. What were some of the external factors that caused the kibbutz to begin incorporating market principles?
  8. What role did the kibbutz play in the larger conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Palestinian conflict?
  9. Why was the kibbutz important to Israel’s national identity?

Activity
Oral History: Intergenerational Interviews
Students should find a parent, relative, neighbor, or person in their community who moved to the area from somewhere else. Interview them about their experience. Then interview someone from the next generation in the interviewee's family. Compare the attitudes of first and second-generation immigrants. How do attitudes toward the community change across generations?

If the first-generation person is from within the student's own family, they can choose to interview themselves as the second-generation person in the form of a diary entry. The "immigrant" could be either international or intranational, in other words someone who moved from outside the United States or from a culturally different part of the US. For example, a student could interview someone who moved from the south to the north or from a very rural area to a very urban one. Also "family" can be defined very loosely. This could be parent/child like Moshe and Noa or it could be uncle/niece, grandparent/grandchild, or a non-blood relation like a godparent. The important thing is that the two subjects have a strong relationship and are part of the same "community." Encourage students to look beyond defining community by ethnicity or nationality.

Communities in America are defined by a wide variety of social, geographic, religious, and political factors in addition to ethnicity and nationality. Most Americans belong to several overlapping communities at once. The distinction is that the students should look for an intergenerational pair of people that have chosen to make a life change and in doing so has joined a community. The teacher may want to approve the student's choices of subjects before they proceed.

The students can use videotape, audiocassette recorders, or detailed handwritten notes to record the interviews, whatever is available to them and the least intimidating for the subject. They should submit to the teacher both the original interview materials and a short summary paper comparing the two perspectives. The students should share their results with each other either in a presentation before the class or by binding all of the interviews together and allowing the students to read each other's interviews.

The goal of this project is to get the student to investigate what motivates people to make drastic changes in their lives, what binds communities together, and how those attitudes toward community often change across generations. The people motivated to establish the kibbutz in Israel were strongly motivated by a combination of political philosophy, religion, and national identity. They formed relatively closed communities from the ground up, often under challenging physical circumstances. The students may or may not encounter someone like this in their lives, but there are many parallel experiences that students can discover by going out into their own community.

Give the students the questionnaire below. They should be required to ask these questions as a starting point, but feel free to add their own.

Suggested Interview Questions

Some tips for interviewing:
Avoid yes or no style questions. Prompt the interviewee to elaborate on short answers by asking how or why questions. Follow up on short answers with questions like "Give me an example of that," or "Can you think of a story that might help me understand what that was like?" If the interviewee is stuck or unsure of the question, you can prompt them with some of the examples, but be sure to allow them to elaborate. Ask which of the examples are the most important? Why?

1st Generation Immigrant

  • Where did you move from and how old were you at the time?
  • Did you move as a family or by yourself?
  • Why did you choose to move here? For example, economic opportunity, political reasons, religious opportunities, family ties.
  • How would you define your "community"? For example, by religion (my church), geography (my block), by politics, by ethnicity, by language, by area of origin, by job or class (people who do jobs like mine or have similar financial resources)?
  • What kind of help and support do you receive from your community? For example, spiritual, economic, social.
  • What kinds of things do you share with your community? For example, financial resources, child-rearing services, vehicles, information about jobs and housing.
  • What, in your opinion keeps your community together or reinforces your sense of community? For example food, traditions (describe some), religious attendance, special holidays, language, proximity, the sharing activities described above, clothing.
  • Do you see your community as more or less cohesive than when you first arrived? Why?
  • Do you see the next generation carrying on the traditions that help define your community?
  • How do you feel when you see members of the next generation move away, marry outside of the community, or stop observing religious traditions, etc.?
  • Do you think the reasons for the creation of the community or for your moving here have changed, become obsolete or are stronger more relevant than ever?

2nd Generation Interview Questions

  • What is your relationship to the first interview subject?
  • Do you consider yourself part of the same "community"?
  • How would you define your "community"? For example, by religion (my church), by politics, geography (my block), by ethnicity, by language, by area of origin, by job or class (people who do jobs like mine, who have similar financial resources to mine)?
  • What kind of help and support do you receive from your community? For example, spiritual, economic, social.
  • What kinds of things do you share with your community? For example, financial resources, child-rearing services, vehicles, information about jobs, where to shop, housing.
  • What, in your opinion keeps your community together or reinforces your sense of community? For example food, traditions (describe some), religious attendance, special holidays, language, proximity, the sharing activities described above, clothing.
  • Do you see the community as more or less cohesive than when you were younger? Why?
  • Do you expect to move away from this community? Why?
  • How do you feel when you see members of your generation move away, marry outside of the community, stop observing religious traditions, etc.?
  • Do you think the reasons for the creation of the community have changed, become obsolete or are stronger more relevant than ever?
  • Do you think you feel differently about your community than earlier generations?

 

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