In the 1960s, Sen. Bernie Sanders volunteered at a kibbutz in northern Israel as the guest of a Marxist-socialist youth movement with a revolutionary mission, it was revealed on Thursday. For months, Israeli reporters have been searching for the name of the kibbutz on which Sanders spent several months in 1963. The presidential candidate, who has not been shy about his affinity for socialism, was reluctant to disclose much about his Jewish upbringing or his time in Israel in 1963, where he traveled with his first wife, Deborah Shiling. Sanders’ campaign has conspicuously refused to answer inquiries about the identity of the kibbutz. On Thursday, Jerusalem Post Intelligence and Security columnist Yossi Melman revealed that Sanders volunteered the information about the kibbutz during an interview with the reporter in 1990, while Melman was the intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel’sHaaretz newspaper. The 1990 interview, discovered in the Haaretz archive, cites Sanders saying that in 1963 he spent several months in Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim in northern Israel as a guest of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, which was affiliated with the kibbutz. The information has garnered some news media attention from Israel-themed outlets. Yet not a single news report reviewed by Breitbart News mentioned that Hashomer Hatzair was an openly Marxist movement that sought to use Zionism as the first stage of a utopian plan for Israel. The second stage was to be a revolution to transform Israel into an Arab-Jewish socialist paradise. Hashomer Hatzair is still around. It currently identifies as a progressive Zionist organization and is a member of the International Falcon Movement–Socialist Education International. Hashomer Hatzair runs a youth program in the U.S. that says it “encourages youth to build progressive Jewish values, explore connections to Israel and the Jewish community, and develop a commitment to social, environmental, and economic justice.” The organization, founded in Europe in 1913 to prepare young socialists for the move to Mandatory Palestine, has rebranded its mission numerous times. It once was a revolutionary Marxist organization. Movement members first settled in Mandatory Palestine in 1919 and seven years later founded several kibbutzim as well as a political party called the Socialist League of Palestine. In a lengthy history for the Van Leer Jerusalem Foundation, Hebrew University Political Science Professor and prolific author Shlomo Avineri in 1977 documented the Marxist revolutionary ideology of the Hashomer Hatzair movement. In a 404-page work titled, “Varieties of Marxism,” Avineri recounted the Marxist “baptism” of Hashomer Hatzair, which he referred to as HH, in the 1920s as “one of the most exciting intellectual chapters in the modern history of Zionism and Palestine.”
It bears testimony to the historical essentiality of Marxism in those years, which saw a new wave of Marxism that was to grow and intensify until it reached its political peak in the 1950s, whereupon it would disintegrate in face of political reality. Unlike other pragmatic socialist movements at the time, Hashomer Hatzair “refused to accept constructivism as the main content of class war in the Palestinian reality, or to contend that socialism could be realized without revolution.” Hashomer Hatzair saw Zionism, or support for a Jewish national homeland, as an entryway into the Jewish state in order to accomplish a socialist revolution in two phases. It enumerated this mission by creating its own “Etapist Theory,” according to which “Jewish socialist society would be realized in two stages,” wrote Avineiri.
The historian elaborated:
In the first stage, the Jewish national home would be established in Eretz Israel, based on a productive and self-sufficient economic foundation. In the second stage, the social revolution itself would be accomplished. The function of the Zionist movement and Zionist cooperation was limited to the first stage only; it would be terminated after the economic, cultural, and political foundations had been laid in Palestine, and after the national funds, based on national donations, were no longer required. Partnership with the Zionists was therefore considered only temporary. The social revolution was to be realized, however, by the international organization of the workers, i.e. Jewish-Arab collaboration. This “theory of stages” formulated by Meir Yaari had many advantages for HH. It could continue to participate in the Zionist Organization, to build socialist cells within the framework of the existing regime, and, at the same time, to maintain revolutionary radicalism.” While that radicalism may now be tempered, the group continues to maintain its socialist identity.
In 2008, Haaretz reported on the continuing efforts of Hashomer Hatzair to spread socialism in Israel and worldwide. The newspaper reported on a world conference marking the movement’s 95th anniversary that attempted to update the organization’s basic tenets. Participants in the 2008 conference could not agree on which style of socialism to adopt. “While Latin American graduates favored classic socialism, the European delegates sided with democratic socialism,” reported Haaretz. The newspaper continued, quoting a delegate from Argentina:
According to Dana Merweiss, from Argentina, the way to implement socialism today is by education and creating communities with socialist awareness. Levine said the movement in the past required its members to work within its community, but today “we say we should also work outside our community as part of the fulfillment of the principle of socialism. In Argentina we work in poor neighborhoods, Jewish and non-Jewish,” he said.