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Iḥud Habonim

IḤUD HABONIM, largest pioneering youth movement of the labor Zionist movement, founded in 1958 with headquarters in Israel. Iḥud Habonim was established by the amalgamation of various youth movements around the world. It was composed of what was formerly Iḥud ha-No'ar ha-Ḥaluzi (ANAḤ) in Latin America, Western Europe, and North Africa (ANAḤ, in turn, was composed of Dror and *Gordonia in Latin America and Gordonia and Habonim in Western Europe and North Africa); World Habonim, which existed mostly in the English-speaking countries; and two Israel movements, Habonim Tenu'ah Me'uhedet and No'ar Oved. In the mid-1960s, Iḥud Habonim had about 20,000 members throughout the world, and graduates of the movement and its predecessors had established 22 kibbutzim in Israel, all of which were affiliated with *Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim, and belonged to a number of moshavim. Groups of Habonim graduates have also settled on kibbutzim of the Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim that were not originally established by Habonim graduates.

The world secretariat of Iḥud Habonim was located in Israel and coordinated the movement's activities around the world. The supreme governing body of the movement was the ve'idah (convention), with representatives from every national movement. Much of its work was carried on by the mo'aẓah olamit (world council), which had the same representation on a smaller scale, and the mazkirut olamit (world secretariat), which had two representatives from every national branch and met three times a year. The most active branches of the governing bodies were the mazkirut murḥevet (enlarged secretariat), which met every three weeks, and the mazkirut pe'ilah (the executive), which was based in Tel Aviv and met weekly. The executive was headed by the general secretary. The governing bodies of Iḥud Habonim were responsible for such activities as the choosing and sending of emissaries to the various national movements, the coordination and planning of programs of work and study in Israel for members coming from abroad, the direction of new settlers to kibbutzim, etc. Iḥud Habonim also published two publications: Binyan and Yesodot.

In 1982 Habonim merged with the Dror youth movement three years after the amalgamation of their parent movements – Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim and *Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad. With the decline of traditional kibbutz ideology, emphasis in the movement shifted to the creation of urban kibbutzim, and from the late 1990s Habonim-Dror members

Iud Habonim

from around the world have associated themselves with such kibbutzim.

In Germany

Although Habonim in Germany ceased to exist at the end of World War II, and therefore did not survive to become part of Iḥud Habonim, the influence of this movement was substantial in both Europe and Palestine. Berit ha-Olim, formerly Jung Juedischer Wander-Bund, was founded in 1925 as a Zionist Socialist movement to educate its members toward aliyah and pioneering in Ereẓ Israel. Its first group of graduates, called Kibbutz Ḥerut, together with pioneers from Eastern Europe, founded kibbutz Givat Brenner within the framework of *Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, from which Berit ha-Olim drew its inspiration. Another movement, Kadimah, which was the successor of *Blau-Weiss, the classical youth movement of German Zionism, was originally a Jewish national scouting movement that developed into a Zionist youth movement. Under the influence of the labor movement in Ereẓ Israel, particularly the kibbutz movement, and the conditions in Nazi Germany, a merger was made between Kadimah and Berit ha-Olim in February 1933 to form Habonim-No'ar Ḥaluẓi, which incorporated 2,300 youth in tens of cities. In Berlin, a third pioneering youth movement, Arbeitskreis, joined the new merger in the same year, bringing the membership of Habonim to a high of over 1,000 in one metropolitan branch.

Until 1938 Habonim operated as an officially recognized youth movement, with its socialist character camouflaged. After all Jewish organizations had been outlawed in Germany, Habonim went underground, confining its activities ostensibly to vocational training of its members with a view to aliyah. Graduates of Habonim were the mainstay of *He-Ḥalutz, and, together with pioneers not organized in any movement, they established hakhsharot (training farms) in Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg and temporarily also in France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Baltic countries. The intermediate age-group (14–16-year-olds) received practical training under the auspices of intermediate hakhsharot. Habonim also published a monthly that, for reasons of censorship, appeared under changing titles.

In Palestine, members of Habonim (the junior members as part of *Youth Aliyah) joined Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, which sent sheliḥim to Germany. Many members joined kibbutzim of Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, even though Habonim did not officially become a part of this kibbutz trend. Habonim came to an end in Germany with the physical destruction of German Jewry.