In Israel, the old Histadrut, or organization of trade unions, was founded as a welfare agency, it employed about one third of the labor force, and it was the dominant health-service provider, primarily funded by insurance premiums. As a socialist entity, the Histadrut was linked politically and economically to the Labor Party, which helped fund it while in power. The old Histadrut was managed on a political basis, and suffered from organizational decline, including huge debts and economic bankruptcy in most of its institutions and assets. In 1994, a new leader, Haim Ramon, was elected to run the organization. Acting against union members, Ramon transformed the Histadrut into a confederation of autonomous labor unions, selling off Histadrut enterprises and assets to private investors, and severing all political ties. This paper demonstrates the unusual union leadership style of Ramon, who downsized, weakened, and destroyed the Israeli union, while most union leaders act to empower their organization.
This article examines the mobilization of the Israeli home front and the overseas volunteering movement that began in May 1967 and continued through the summer of 1968. The mobilization in the Six-Day War included manifestations of solidarity and volunteering in diverse fields. The Israeli government and the Histadrut sent volunteers to frontier communities and raised funds from the public to finance the war. The movement included World Jewry, which also participated in fundraising through an emergency campaign and sent thousands of volunteers to Israel. The goal of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency to transform the volunteering movement into a Jewish immigration movement to Israel and to strengthen the bond between Israel and World Jewry, shaped the character of this movement. The article examines the character of this movement and discusses the nature of the encounter between the overseas volunteers and Israeli society.