Kibbutzim Say No to People With Disabilities
Although the principal of equality in kibbutzim is not what it used to be since the era of privatization dawned on the socialist communities, it seems a new low has been reached: “Maariv” has found that many kibbutzim have ceased accepting people with disabilities as new members.
Na’amah and Uri lived as members of kibbutzim their entire lives. Thirty years ago, their son Sharon was born with a physical and mental disability. Following constant battles with their kibbutz’s secretary, they decided to form a movement of parents of children with disabilities.
“We came to realize that the kibbutz does not intend to enlist the people with disabilities as new members”, Uri said, adding, “They prepared an agreement that every parent had to sign in order to guarantee the child’s benefits. We objected to the paper since it did not include a guarantee of becoming a kibbutz member”.
According to Uri, “My son is eligible to vote for Knesset elections but cannot do so in members’ meetings”. Na’amah added, “Weak individuals weaken the kibbutz. They told me this explicitly. My son cannot become a member since he is disabled”.
Surprisingly, the National Kibbutz Movement did not even attempt to deny the serious allegations.
According to a senior movement official, “It is true the mentally disabled people can vote for the Knesset, but in a country with 6.5 million the damage can be spread out. Not so in a kibbutz. Just as no family that owns a company would accept the appointment of retarded individuals, and give him the right to vote”.
In an official response, the movement issued the following statement: “It is true that since the membership in the kibbutz has ceased to become automatic, people with mental disabilities have not been accepted as new members. Regarding those physically disabled, we do not see it as a phenomenon, but it could happen”.