The moshavim were originally developed by the Zionist socialist parties (Poale Zion and Ha’poel Hatzair, then Mapai) from the second wave of Zionist Jewish immigration to Ottoman Palestine at the beginning of the twentieth century. They experienced significant development in the following years throughout the twentieth century.
Proof of its success, the Moshav was used by other Zionist political currents outside the socialist movement. There are thus Moshavim from the religious Zionist movement.
Moshavim are villages coupled with a « multi-function cooperative » (Willner, 1969). Whereas a traditional cooperative often focuses on a single function (production of goods, social protection, sales of goods at reduced prices, provision of agricultural equipment, etc.), a mochav groups all these functions within a single function. small municipality of village type. Any member of the village must also be a regular member of the cooperative.
The Moshav is not collectivist, unlike the kibbutz, where everything is done in common: meals, work, etc. The moshav organizes a classic family life, and an individual exploitation of farmland, centered on the family unit. But it also organizes a multi-faceted cooperation between members of the moshav, by setting up many collective services (provision of agricultural equipment, marketing of Moshav production, social services, leisure centers, cultural activities, access to credit).
Some, but not all, activities of the moshav may be collectivist in nature, such as an agricultural marketing enterprise. By definition, it is not possible to work independently, while this is possible for land use. As for the kibbutzim, the ownership of the land is collectively Israeli (through Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael or KKL): the state puts at the disposal of the Moshav the land that its members exploit.
Each member of the moshav community has its own farm and properties. Workers produce grain and goods through shared work and resources. Profit thus benefiting the entire group. Decisions on individual farms are made by the farmer. Decisions on the functioning of the village or cooperative bodies attached to it are taken collectively in a democratic manner. There are several variants of operation. In particular, there are the « classical » moshavim of moshavim shitoufiim. The latter having a more collective functioning, approaching the kibbutzim.
The current moshavim are grouped together in several federations, generally linked to the ideological currents that created them: socialist Zionists, religious Zionists, etc. The federations themselves control cooperative enterprises serving the member moshavim. Today, the tendency is to reduce the collective functioning of Moshavim (especially the joint purchasing cooperatives), to the benefit of a greater economic and social autonomy of the members. But many collective functions are maintained. In 2003, there were 452 moshavim and moshavim shitoufiim, sheltering about 3% of the Israeli population (against 1.8% for kibbutzim), and providing much of Israel’s agricultural production.