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Jane Hutcheon

broadcaster/journalist/author

12 Oct
2018

The Kibbutz: the Original Sharing Economy Event Travel

Jane Hutcheon

Event Start: 3 days ago

And so the Sea, Stones & Stories tour continues.  I was looking forward to visiting Degania Bet, one of the earliest kibbutzim to be established in the land of Palestine, (now Israel) in 1920. Kibbutz means ‘gathering’ and each kibbutz was originally a socialist community of pioneers, acquiring land for farming or industry.  There are currently 274 kibbutzes (or kibbutzim, as the are known), although in recent decades many have been privatised. 

Very few retain the original communal way of life.

Degania Bet recently celebrated 98 years of communal living.  It runs a large dairy and produces food including bananas and avocados as well as owning a small factory. 

Our guide, Idan Ben Shalom describes himself as a ‘native patriot of this place’. 

He’s a kibbutz member (Degania B has 210 members) and a film-maker. He doesn’t receive a salary and any money members make goes to the kibbutz and is shared equally among the members.  No-one gets more than their neighboor. No-one is different or better than their neighbour.

Idan says all kibbutz members are looked after in their own homes until they die.  

Until the age of three Idan stayed apart from his parents in a kindergarten.   But separating children from their parents during childhood wasn’t a feature at this particular kibbutz.  

You can read about the experience of another kibbutz child Kibbutz children.

I love these brilliant, idealised images of Degania Bet taken in the late 1930’s and 1940’s by Israeli-Hungarian photographer Zoltan Kluger. (Wikimedia Commons, from the National Photo Collection of Israel). 

I enjoyed Degania Bet’s archive which is housed in the former home of Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Prime Minister from 1963-1969.  He lived on a kibbutz like former Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defence Minister Moshe Dayan (who actually lived in the neighbouring kibbutz, Degania Alef).  

Each year since the 1940’s, someone with excellent Hebrew hand-writing (the archivist) writes down the history of the kibbutz: who was born, who died, what milestones were achieved.  The history is recorded in these large volumes.

It was great for our group to catch a quick glimpse of this lifestyle which sounds like an admirable antidote to 21st century life. This is the original sharing economy.  I gather however, that below the surface it's not as idyllic as it seems. 

Being a member of a community involves the need to conform and there are implications if you don't.

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10 Oct
2018

Inside Ben Gurion's Library Books Travel

Jane Hutcheon

One of the highlights of the Sea Stones & Stories tour, as we prepare to leave Tel Aviv, was the home of former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.

Most of the Tel Aviv house is now home to Ben Gurion's library.

The founding Prime Minister was, like many leaders, an insomniac.  He collected more than 22,000 books in eleven languages!  Our young guide said he taught himself so many languages because he believed it was important to read a book in the language in which it was written. 

 Other facts about Ben Gurion which I enjoyed, the gnome-like leader practised Feldenkrais and was taught to do a headstand.  Apparently he summoned the media to the beach so they could capture him posing.  The buff gentleman in the background is his bodyguard.

We heard so many glowing things about DBG I asked whether, apart from being a great Prime Minister, he was a good husband and father.

Our young guide admitted that he was not.

A book about Ben Gurion's private life, published this year by historian Tom Segev, poses the question "if the leader isn’t faithful to his wife, maybe he’s not faithful to his voters, either".

I enjoyed the peek into his shrine former home. It made me think about the creation of myths.  They abound in this land.  

Although a myth can still be a great story.

 

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06 Oct
2018

Israel-Palestinian 2018 Culture List Travel

Jane Hutcheon

So I’m trying to stay awake watching the sun sink over the Mediterranean Sea.    

When I was asked to lead this tour, I chose the title Sea, Stones and Stories because I felt these elements were images I retained from the time I lived in the Middle-East from 2003-5.  I always felt the presence of the sea, whether it was the ocean or the Dead Sea. The sea is also part of the story-telling landscape. Stones, because all over the West Bank, incredible rocks dot the biblical landscape.  And Stories because every person, every issue here tells a story. Sometimes it’s a mythologised story, but there’s always a narrative and I am here in my capacity as a storyteller.

So with Sea, Stones and Stories in mind, here’s the culture list I provided to members of the Renaissance Tours group I'm about to meet.  

I've read most of the books and I’ll be using the content in my presentations. The films and newspaper articles are useful background and context.  I'm so excited to be in the Mid-East. Happy Reading!

Books:

  • Jerusalem, the biography - Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • City of Oranges - Adam LaBor
  • Jerusalem (the cookbook) - Yotam Ottolenghi
  • Where the Line is Drawn - Raja Shehadeh (memoir)
  • In Search of Fatima - Ghada Karmi (memoir)
  • To the End of the Land - David Grossman (novel)
  • Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life - Sayed Kashua (personal essays)
  • Kingdom of Olives and Ash - Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman (commentary)
  • American Priestess - Janet Fletcher Geniesse (non-fiction biography)
  • City on a Hilltop - Sara Yael Hirschhorn (commentary)
  • Letters to my Palestinian Neighbour - Yossi Klein Halevi (commentary)

Films:

  • Seven Days in Entebbe (2018)
  • Disobedience (2017)
  • Eyes of a Thief (2014)
  • Make Hummus Not War (2012)
  • Palestinian Film Festival (September)

Articles and features:

The Balfour Declaration: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/01/arthur-balfour-declaration-100-years-of-suffering-britain-palestine-israel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration

The Kibbutz movement: https://www.jpost.com/Magazine/A-uniquely-Israeli-institution-543296

Archeology: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Archeology-in-Israel-as-a-political-weapon-515922

American settlers: https://www.timesofisrael.com/how-to-square-a-circle-when-liberal-american-jews-become-israeli-settlers/

Settlements: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-map-of-israeli-settlements-that-shocked-barack-obama

http://imemc.org/article/report-israeli-settlement-expansion-continued-as-hundreds-of-housing-units-are-approved/

The Jewish State: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/07/israels-nation-state-law-declares-the-country-the-historic-jewish-homeland-downgrades-the-status-of-arabic-and-names-jerusalem-as-israels-capital.html

The controversy of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital explained:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/world/middleeast/jerusalem-trump-capital.html

A timeline:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29123668

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22 Jan
2019

Tour: Oman & Zanzibar - Departs 22 January 2019 Event Travel

Jane Hutcheon

Event Start: 3 months from now

In this incredible 18 day tour, The Frankincense Route, we'll journey to Oman, ancient land of spice, incense and forts.

Then we'll venture to the lush Island of Zanzibar which has a historical connection to Oman.  The tour dates: 22 January - 8 February 2019).

You can download the full brochue here or contact Renaissance Tours on 1300 727 095.

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07 Oct
2018

Tour: Israel & Palestinian Territories - Departs 7 October 2018 Event Travel

Jane Hutcheon

Event Start: 1 week ago

I'm so excited to be leading this fabulous 13 day tour departing in October this year (Tour dates 7-19 October 2018)

There are still a few places available (as of March) so have a look at the itinerary and contact Renaissance Tours if you are interested on 1300 727 095.

You can also download the full brochure here.

(photograph by Craig Berkman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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