Makor Rishon, Israel, August 8

The public discourse around agricultural reform led by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman reveals how Zionism denies the very foundations on which it was built. It is impossible to assess the local agricultural sector through the sole prism of fruit and vegetable prices. Yes, the savings of 800 shekels per year for the average Israeli consumer is significant, but there are more important considerations as well. The arguments put forward by farmers and their representatives against reform revolve around the food security of Israeli society in the wake of an emergency or global supply shortages. They also revolve around maintaining an economic lifeline for Israel’s geographic periphery. But all of these arguments miss the most important point: agriculture in Israel is not an economic consideration; it is first and foremost a guiding principle, a national value. One of the fundamental values ​​of the Zionist revolution, and perhaps the most important of them, was the colonization of the territory. The agricultural colony – the moshav and the kibbutz – enabled Zionist pioneers to cultivate the land and colonize the wilderness. Agriculture was not just a source of income. It was a noble goal that went well beyond a vocation. The first wave of immigrants to Israel established communities and saw agriculture and land settlement as their main ambition. Likewise, the second wave of pioneers established kibbutzim and moshavim. They did not establish local towns or industries. They focused only on agriculture. This Zionist idealism and its values ​​must not be abandoned. In fact, they need to be restored and renewed. Former President Ezer Weizman coined the famous slogan “our best sons – in the air force”, in an attempt to encourage the enlistment of combat pilots. The late Israeli publicist Uri Orbach followed suit and coined the paraphrase “our best sons – in journalism”. Now, in the wake of the agricultural crisis we are facing in Israel, which seeks to turn every agricultural plot into land for real estate development, we must openly and proudly say, “Our best sons and daughters – to agriculture! –Moti Karpel (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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