Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Two - The Economy of the Yishuv and Its Legacy


Institutions created by the Jewish community in Palestine (the Yishuv) from the early twentieth century until the creation of Israel played a major role in the state at least until the 1970s. This chapter examines the development of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate (1917–1948) and the institutions that had a lasting impact: the Kibbutz, the Moshav, the Histadrut, and the public ownership of land. The chapter begins by looking at the ideological motivation of the group of immigrants that played a dominant role in the creation of the state.

From Diaspora to Zion

Zionism, the movement that created the state of Israel, emerged in the nineteenth century. Although it had a religious impetus, based on biblical notions of the coming of the Messiah and the need to redeem the Holy Land, it was largely a secular response to the rising nationalism and anti-Semitism that prevailed in Eastern Europe, where most Jews lived. In the early 1880s, Tsar Alexander III issued a number of anti-Jewish decrees that drove hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes. Between 1881 and 1914, as pogroms resulted in the massacres of thousands of Jews, some 2.6 million left Russia and the territories surrounding it. The vast majority went to the United States and smaller numbers left for the United Kingdom and other Western countries. They did this along with millions of non-Jews who left Europe for economic as well as political reasons.