Israel's Kibbutzim: Renewal through Cleantech?

Abramowitz Arava PowerProfitability + altruism + saving the planet? Yosef I. Abramowitz from Arava Power, Kibbutz Ketura Israel – one of the latest ventures in clean tech launched from an Israeli kibbutz.

The Kibbutz Movement celebrated its centenary in 2010, but the last decades of the 20th Century were not kind to Israel’s collective settlements. The shift in Israel’s economy, politics and society beginning in the late 70s stripped the kibbutzim of their status and pioneering role, and brought harsh economic realities to their doorsteps. Being the pioneer elite for Zionism was no longer enough; kibbutzim were now required to pay their own way as well.

The patient has now stabilised, but in many cases this has meant kibbutzim having to abandon their socialist ideals and privatise their internal economies. While kibbutzim still offer an attractive lifestyle, based on their bucolic setting and community orientation, they have not managed to regain their sense of mission and purpose and leadership role in Israeli society. They are moving into the business of clean tech, Bloomberg reports.

There are signs, however, that the cleantech sector could become the engine that drives a revival, both of the kibbutz economy and of its status within Israeli society and the Green movement globally. The cleantech sector offers the benefits of profitability plus altruism, dividends plus saving the planet (or at least making parts of it a better place to live or work).

While the allure of socialism has waned, the kibbutz itself still has much to offer. If kibbutzim are to survive and thrive, though, the movement needs a new sense of purpose, a new vision and new markets. Cleantech may well provide those ingredients.

“The partnership works well for both sides,” said Eliezer Tokman, chief executive officer of Siemens Israel in the Bloomberg report. “The guys at Arava are the entrepreneurs. They initiate projects and deal with regulation, and we design, build and maintain the projects.”

See video on Arava Power’s Yosef I. Abramowitz below:

Think this may be stretching things a bit? Have a look at this list of familiar Israeli cleantech enterprises, all featured on Green Prophet. As well as Israel and cleantech, they all have something else in common; a healthy kibbutz upbringing!

::Israel’s Kibbutz Collectives Find New Purpose in Green Ventures – Bloomberg

Further reading on Israeli kibbutzim:
5 Must-See Green & Tech Travel Stops at Israeli Kibbutzes
Israel’s cleantech kibbutzim pioneers

Image credit: Uriel Sinai/Bloomberg Businessweek

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3 thoughts on “Israel's Kibbutzim: Renewal through Cleantech?”

  1. @Avigail, thanks for providing this background and context. I think I can speak for Green Prophet in saying that we support the aims and objectives of the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, and hope that the initiative finds many imitators in Israel and throughout the M/E.

  2. It would have been nice if you would have mentioned that Arava Power’s projects are part of the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative and the picture displayed is from the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative’s new validation center in which renewable energy technology is tested for viability and marketability. The Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative is actively promoting the Eilat region to be come energy independent. With the support of the Eilot regional council, the city of Eilat, and the network of kibbutzim in the area, they are coordinating a regional effort to bring clean energy projects to the area and encourage alternative energy and energy efficiency awareness through educational programs in every level of academia.

    is currently undergoing a major upgrade that will reflect their comprehensive renewable energy program. It should prove to be ground-breaking in every way in this field and is worth your keeping in touch to observe its growth. If you look there now, you can still get a sense of its exciting developments. They also sponsor the annual Eilat-Eilot International renewable energy conference in February in which last year close to 2000 participants from around the world talked renewable energy technology innovations, business-2-business, policy, and more for three days.

  3. It would have been nice if you would have mentioned that Arava Power’s projects are part of the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative and the picture displayed is from the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative’s new validation center in which renewable energy technology is tested for viability and marketability. The Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative is actively promoting the Eilat region to be come energy independent. With the support of the Eilot regional council, the city of Eilat, and the network of kibbutzim in the area, they are coordinating a regional effort to bring clean energy projects to the area and encourage alternative energy and energy efficiency awareness through educational programs in every level of academia.

    The is currently undergoing a major upgrade that will reflect their comprehensive renewable energy program. It should prove to be ground-breaking in every way in this field and is worth your keeping in touch to observe its growth. If you look there now, you can still get a sense of its exciting developments. They also sponsor the annual Eilat-Eilot International renewable energy conference in February in which last year close to 2000 participants from around the world talked renewable energy technology innovations, business-2-business, policy, and more for three days.

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