I imagine Fletcher’s chapter about Beit Oren would have a very different ending if he were to write it now. And maybe a different one again, if he returns in two years, such is the ever-oscillating way of life—from light to dark and back again—in this always complex corner of the world.
I was catching up with my Google News Updates (all “kibbutz”, all the time!), when I read this short interview with Martin Fletcher, the author of what sounds like an interesting travelogue, titled Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation. (Israeli-based journalist Daviel Gavron undertook a similar ambulatory literary journey down the length of the country, although Fletcher chose the coastal route.)
What jumped out was his visit to Kibbutz Beit Oren and his discovery of the story of the kibbutz’s near-bankruptcy and how members brought their community back from the brink of debt and dissolution—and paved the way for future privatization projects in the kibbutz movement. Of course, the story of Beit Oren’s fall and rise is now shadowed by the damage wrought by the recent forest fires. (Twenty homes were damaged in the blaze.) Most of my Google Alerts since this interview was published have all been about the devastation on Mt. Carmel and the ensuing fallout.