Mishmar HaEmek

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Mishmar HaEmek
מִשְׁמַר הָעֵמֶק
השומריה - עמק יזרעאל והגלבוע (3).JPG
Mishmar HaEmek is located in Israel
Mishmar HaEmek
Mishmar HaEmek
Coordinates: 32°36′34.91″N 35°8′30.48″E / 32.6096972°N 35.1418000°E / 32.6096972; 35.1418000Coordinates: 32°36′34.91″N 35°8′30.48″E / 32.6096972°N 35.1418000°E / 32.6096972; 35.1418000
District Northern
Council Megiddo
Affiliation Kibbutz Movement
Founded 1926
Founded by HaShomer HaTzair
Population (2015)[1] 1,216
Name meaning Guard of the Valley
Website http://mh.kibbutz.org.il/

Mishmar HaEmek (Hebrew: מִשְׁמַר הָעֵמֶק‎, lit. Guard of the Valley)[2] is a kibbutz in northern Israel. Located in the western Jezreel Valley, it falls under the jurisdiction of Megiddo Regional Council. Mishmar HaEmek is one of the few kibbutzim that have not undergone privatization and still follow the traditional collectivist and socialist model of the kibbutzim.[3] At least five members of the Knesset hail from Mishmar HaEmek.[3] In 2015 it had a population of 1,216.[1]


Mishmar HaEmek is located in the southwestern part of the Jezreel Valley, between Highway 66 and the foot of the Menashe Heights. Next to the kibbutz is the manmade Mishmar HaEmek forest, a section of the Ramot Menashe park,[4] listed as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO and was planted by the Jewish National Fund and members of the kibbutz.[5]


Prestate history[edit]

Mishmar HaEmek with Manasseh Heights in the background, 1933

During the Fourth Aliyah (1924–1928), the Jezreel Valley was the top priority of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF wanted to settle the valley in order to establish a significant Jewish agricultural community in the arable valley, and to create a contiguous bloc of Jewish settlements in the valley, connecting Haifa with the already existing bloc of Jewish settlements between Afula and Beit She'an. In 1924 the JNF bought some 30,175 dunams of lands from Arab villages next to Nahalal in the western part of the valley. On these lands, Sarid, Ramat David, Gvat, Kfar Baruch and Mishmar HaEmek were established.[6]

The kibbutz started as a portable community called "Kibbutz Hashomer Hatzair Bet"[7] (Bet is the second letter in Hebrew) and was founded in Neve Sha'anan, Haifa by Polish Jews, pioneers of the Hashomer Hatzair from Galicia who arrived during the Third Aliyah.[8] On 19 January 1922 the first baby of the kibbutz was born in Hadassah Medical Center and the news arrived to the members on 21 January, which was then declared as the birthday of the kibbutz. In the summer of 1922 the members moved to Nahalal where they helped with swamp drying and road paving. At Nahalal some members suffered from diseases and lack of livelihood but it did not halt the expansion of the kibbutz. In 1925 the kibbutz, which consisted of 60 men and women, and six children, moved to Afula which was a place for workers who sought jobs and for kibbutz members waiting to get a plot of land for settlement, which the members received in November 1926 and 15 men and women left Afula and settled in a khan on Tell Abu Shusha next to the Arab village of Abu Shusha, where they worked the land. In the next year two mules were bought and 120 dunams of fields of wheat and barley were sowed until the kibbutz moved to its current location.[9]

Mishmar HaEmek in historical context
Mishmar HaEmek defenses, 1948
Members of the Yiftach Brigade, 1948

It was the first Jewish settlement in the southern part of the Jezreel Valley.[9] After disagreements the members of the kibbutz accepted the proposal by Menachem Ussishkin to name the kibbutz "Mishmar HaEmek" in November 1928.[10]

On 26 August 1929, during the 1929 Palestine riots the kibbutz was attacked by an Arab mob equipped with firearms. The villagers and Arab policemen managed to fend away the rioters. British policemen told the kibbutz to evacuate and promised to take care for their property and the kibbutz left the following day. On 28 August, Arab rioters burned the kibbutz's barn, uprooted trees, stole corn from the fields and vandalized two gravestones in the kibbutz's cemetery. The members finally returned on 7 September and started fortifying the kibbutz, despite concerns of the Jewish Agency about the resettlement in the region. It was the only time in the history of the kibbutz it was abandoned and during the riots 16 other Jewish communities were evacuated.[11]

In early 1930 the rest of the kibbutz which consisted of 85 adults and 16 children, left Afula and joined the members in Mishmar HaEmek. In the next years the members planted 50,000 trees, built a cowshed, planted a vineyard and various fruit trees, dug wells and built the first two permanent buildings: A double story children's house made of concrete and a water tower.[10] The children's house was the educational institution of the kibbutz and was planned in 1931 but only built in 1937 after the needed funds were raised and was constructed by the members of the kibbutz in order to reduce the costs, on a small hill near the Kibbutz. At the time the building was completed, it was one of the largest structures in the region and was nicknamed "the Big House".[12] In 1936 graduates of Hashomer Hatzair established a gar'in and settled in the kibbutz until they moved to Rishon LeZion in 1937 and in 1946 they established the kibbutz of Hatzor.[13] In 1931 the kibbutz absorbed a group of Hashomer Hatzair members from the United States, who numbered 17 and in 1933 their number grew to 30. In 1934 the Americans moved to a plot of land near Hadera.[14]

During the early days of the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine the kibbutz was subjected to almost daily attacks, usually shootings and burning of forests. The Arabs in the region were under the command of Ahmad Attiyah Awad and after his death in March 1938, the commend was transferred to Yusuf Abu Durra.[15][16] British High Commissioner Arthur Grenfell Wauchope visited the kibbutz and appointed 15 members as guards and gave them firearms but in August 1936 the situation worsened. The British government sent 60 soldiers to guard the kibbutz and in October the attacks on the kibbutz ended.[11] During the attacks, dozens of thousands of trees were burnet.[10] Israeli poet and later member of the Knesset, Uri Zvi Greenberg, criticized the residents of Mishmar HaEmek for not taking the law into their hands after the attacks on their fields and in a poet he wrote on the events he changed the name of the kibbutz from "Mishmar HaEmek" (Guard of the Valley) to "Hefker HaEmek" (Abandonment of the Valley).[17] On 2 February 1938 a member of the kibbutz named Abraham Goldschleger who was a guide for Ein HaShofet was murdered by residents of Al-Kafrayn who ambushed him and two residents of Ein HaShofet who accompanied him. One of the shooters was caught and executed.[15] The Palmach used the trees as cover for their main training camp and its fighters worked in the kibbutz.[10]

In the fall of 1942, when there were fears of a German victory in the Middle East, Mishmar HaEmek was used as a training camp by the British army. 160 Jewish volunteers, who would later become members of the Palmach branch of the Haganah, were trained by Royal Engineers in sabotage and wireless operation. Several tons of explosives were hidden in caches in case the area came under German occupation. This program was terminated immediately upon the training of the volunteers, and orders issued for the collection of all equipment and explosives to be returned to the British.[18]

In 1947, Mishmar HaEmek had a population of 550. The Jewish National Fund and Worton Hall Studios made a 1947 movie called The Great Promise (Dim'at Ha'Nehamah Ha'Gedolah), and a number of the scenes were filmed here.[2]

During the 1947–48 civil war, on 4 April 1948, the kibbutz came under full-scale attack by the Arab Liberation Army (ALA).[19] The leader of the ALA, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, planned to seize Mishmar HaEmek to clear the way between Jenin and Haifa.[20] The attack began with an artillery barrage from seven artillery pieces supplied by the Syrian army.[21] During the shelling of the kibbutz, houses were destroyed, civilians and soldiers were killed as well as livestock[11] and the notable white school building was heavily damaged; a bomb shelter was later built at the school.[12] On April 6th, 1948, the women and children of the kibbutz were evacuated with the aid of the British to other kibbutzim in the Jezreel Valley[11] and a British-brokered ceasefire began.[22] During this period, Jewish forces fortified the kibbutz and dug trenches around its perimeter.[11] Qawuqji reported that the kibbutz was captured by the Arab forces and the "conquest of Mishmar HaEmek" was celebrated in Arab newspapers, which also reported heavy casualties among the Jewish forces, despite the fact that the Arab forces had yet to enter the kibbutz. The ALA sent terms to the Haganah, saying they would raise the siege of the kibbutz, regroup and move toward Haifa, if in return the Jewish forces would accept not to retaliate against the nearby Arab villages. The Jews declined the offer and the Arab offensive resumed on 8 April. In the night between 8–9 April, the Jewish forces launched a counter-attack under the commend of Yitzhak Sadeh and captured Al-Ghubayya al-Fawqa in a fierce battle. In the next days, forces of the Carmeli Brigade and the Palmach captured several other villages near Mishmar HaEmek and nearby Ein HaShofet, and all of them were destroyed.[22]

During the second phase of the war, on 24 December 1948,[7] Iraqi planes bombed the kibbutz, hitting the children's house, killing four children and injuring another four. Apparently the Iraqis wanted to attack Ramat David Airbase but hit the kibbutz instead.[23]

State of Israel[edit]

Kibbutz children dancing on a hilltop, 2012

In 1950, a factory called "Tama" (Mishmar HaEmek Industries) was established which became a central part of the kibbutz' economy. In the 1980s the kibbutz suffered an economic crisis that ended in the late 1980s when Tama began to manufacture harvesting tools for export.[10]

In 2010 the kibbutz decided after four gatherings to appoint a team of members to discuss the privatization of electricity, food, mail, barbershop and cosmetics. Other services were to be kept under the responsibility of the kibbutz, these include: healthcare, education and welfare. The dispute mainly concerned the privatization of the dining room.[24] At the end of the discussions, most privatization initiatives were rejected, and only a few minor changes that had no practical effect on the collective lifestyle were accepted.


Mishmar HaEmek has been described as one of the richest of the kibbutzim in Israel[25] It is based on a socialist structure where all assets are communally owned and all residents earn the same amount of money. The economy is also based on intensive farming, including field crops, orchards, dairy cattle and poultry.[25][26]

The kibbutz owns 75% of Tama (Mishmar HaEmek Industries). It operates a factory on its grounds in partnership with Kibbutz Gal'ed, which owns 25% of the company.[25][27]). In 2015 it was estimated that the company had an annual sales revenue of 1.5 Billion NIS.[27] The factory has about 250 workers, over a quarter are residents of the kibbutz and manufactures plastic netting, used for bundling crops. Tama is one of the biggest players in worldwide market for this product and work with equipement makers such as John Deere and has factories in three countries with a total number of 900 workers. In the factory the employees and executives who are residents of the kibbutz all earn the same amount of money while the non-kibbutz residents who are employed in the factory earn according to their work.[28]


Music lessons on the kibbutz, 1956

The Shomeria school, established in 1930,[12] was the first regional educational institution of the Kibbutz Artzi movement (later merged with other movements to the Kibbutz Movement).[26] It put into practice the socialist ideology of the Hashomer Hatzair movement, creating an independent "children's society" that operated as a multi-age boarding school. Children saw their parents on the holidays or special visiting days during the course of the year. The children had a daily schedule, with the mornings devoted to education, the afternoons to work in the kibbutz, and the evenings to cultural activities. At first, the school consisted of makeshift cabins, but the Kibbutz Artzi movement soon commissioned a building for this purpose. It was designed by architect Joseph Neufeld and was built in 1937 on a hill above the kibbutz. The location was symbolic, as the location on a hill higher than the rest of the kibbutz was to signify the importance of education. Apart from Mishmar HaEmek, the institution was intended to provide education to four other kibbutz communities that were established in the Jezreel Valley: Beit Alfa, Sarid, Mizra and Merhavia. They were later joined by children from Kibbutz Gan Shmuel and young people from the Youth Aliyah. After the establishment of the State of Israel, similar schools were established in other kibbutzim.[12]

Over the years, various additions were made to the complex, which continued to serve as a school. However, the original building designed by Neufeld is no longer in use and proposals have been put forward to turn it into a museum.[12]


Year Population
1931 122[29]
1945 390[30]
1948 549[31]
1961 704[31]
1972 923[31]
1983 822[31]
1995 878[31]
2008 956[32]
2015 1,216[1]

In the 1931 census of Palestine, Mishmar HaEmek had a population of 122, all Jewish, in 59 occupied houses.[29] In the 1945 survey the kibbutz had a population of 390 and had a total land area of 4,850 dunams, of which 114 are publically owned and the rest (4,736) are owned by Jews.[30] The population of Mishmar HaEmek was recorded in Israeli censuses: In 1948 the kibbutz had a population of 549; In 1961 the population was 704; In 1972 the population was 923; In 1983 the population was 822; In 1995 the population was 878;[31] In 2008 the population was 956.[32] In 31 December 2015 the population estimate was 1,216.[1]

The residents of Mishmar HaEmek are secular Jews.[33]


In Mishmar HaEmek there is a prehistoric and protohistoric site called "el-Ghaba et-Tahta". The site covers about 40 dunams contains a tell which can't be seen from the surface. Seven strata (layers) were found, which date as early as the early Neolithic period and as late as the late Ottoman period.[34]

In the seventh stratum (layer), which is the deepest, an extensive portion of a plaster floor, composed of burnt limestone, was exposed . The floor was founded on small stones placed on virgin soil. The flint tools from this stratum included arrowheads and sickle blades, characteristic of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period. In the sixth stratum two walls that formed the corner of a large building were exposed. The pottery was found in clusters, resting on the walls. It included vessel types characteristic of the Yarmukian and Jericho IX (Lodian) cultures, dating to the Pottery Neolithic. A layer of stones that contained finds from the Pottery Neolithic period was exposed in a nearby site. In the fifth stratum, whose finds were only found in a limited region in the south of the excavation area, three rows of stones that formed a rectangular space were built upon a floor were exposed. It is unclear if these were the remains of thin walls or of an installation. A ceramic jar found beneath the floor and several potsherds above it belong to the Wadi Rabah culture, thus suggesting the structure should be dated to the beginning of the Early Chalcolithic period.[34]

In the fourth satratum, fragmentary remains of round or elliptical buildings that do not join up to form complete structures were discovered. The potsherds found in this layer, dating it to Early Bronze Age, included gray-burnished kraters and holemouth jars with ridge ornamentations near the rim. In the third stratum large elliptical buildings, very similar to the structures uncovered in the third stratum in an excvacation near Kiryat Ata, were exposed. Only half of the eastern building was exposed and the western building was uncovered in its entirety and had an abundance of broken storage vessels, in situ, on its floor. This pottery indicates that the building should be ascribed to an early phase of Early Bronze Age. The assemblage included holemouth jars with rounded and thickened rims, pithoi with an upright rim that is not curved and a late type of a gray-burnished krater. In the second stratum, sections of minor construction and a few potsherds from diverse periods were found. The potsherds could not be attributed with any degree of certainty to the architectural remains. Early Bronze Age II, Intermediate Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age and the Roman period stand out among the periods, to which these sherds are ascribed. A tomb attributed to the Middle Bronze Age was found; it contained scant remains of human bones and a bronze spearhead with a socket. The corner of a building that probably dated to the Early Roman period was discovered close to the surface in the eastern part of the excavation area.[34]

In the first stratum, a courtyard surrounded by several rooms, which is part of a large courtyard building, was discovered. The remains of the structure included the foundations and fragments of roof tiles, which most likely, covered the rooms and were found on the surface. The source of the roof tiles is the port of Marseilles, France, and most were stamped with the heart-shaped emblem of the Roux Frères roof-tile factory. The roof tiles indicate that the building was erected at the end of the nineteenth century CE. Several other roof tiles were stamped with a swan symbol, these were probably imported in a later phase of the building’s existence, at the beginning of the twentieth century, for the purpose of repair. According to Micah Linn of Mishmar HaEmek, the building was no longer standing at the time when the kibbuz was founded and therefore, it is estimated to have been in use for only several decades.[34]

The excavation was conducted in July–September 2010 at an area that was designated for a new residential extension.[34]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Jewish National Fund (1949). Jewish Villages in Israel. Jerusalem: Hamadpis Liphshitz Press. p. 122. 
  3. ^ a b Dagan, David (25 May 2008). "Kibbutz Diary: Socialism for the 21st century". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  4. ^ "Owls Congregate in Mishmar HaEmek Forest". Jewish National Fund. Jerusalem Post. 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ramot Menashe Park - The first biosphere in Israel". Jewish National Fund. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  6. ^ Haskin, Gili. "רכישת הקרקעות בעמק יזרעאל [Purchasing the lands in the Jezreel Valley]" (in Hebrew). Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Mishmar HaEmek". Israeli Labour Movement (in Hebrew). Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "משמר העמק [Mishmar HaEmek]". Megido Regional Council website. Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "משמר העמק - אירועים מרכזיים בהיסטוריית משמר העמק [Mishmar HaEmek - Key events in the history of Mishmar HaEmek]". Mishmar HaEmek website (in Hebrew). Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "משמר העמק - היסטוריה [Mishmar HaEmek - History]". Mishmar HaEmek website (in Hebrew). Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "אירועים ביטחוניים בתולדות משמר העמק [Security events in the history of Mishmar HaEmek]". Mishmar HaEmek website (in Hebrew). Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Dvir, Noam (28 March 2008). "The Acropolis of Mishmar Ha'emek". Haaretz. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  13. ^ "Hatzor (Ahsdod)" (in Hebrew). Israeli Labour Movement. Retrieved 14 August 2016. 
  14. ^ Reinharz, Shulamit; A. Raider, Mark (2005). American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise. University Press of New England. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-58465-439-1. 
  15. ^ a b Ozev, Amriam (2013). "chapter i". Mishmar HaEmek Will Stand (in Hebrew). Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir. ISBN 978-965-552-557-1. Retrieved 29 July 2016. 
  16. ^ Swedenburg, Ted (2003). Memories of Revolt: 1936–1939 Rebellion in the Palestinian Past. The University of Arkensas Press. p. 118. ISBN 1-55728-763-5. 
  17. ^ Karper, Dalia (9 July 2016). "ממציא הפשיזם הישראלי [Inventor of Israeli Fascism]". Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  18. ^ Naomi Shepherd, "Ploughing the sand - British rule in Palestine 1917–1948".ISBN 0-7195-5707-0. Pages 215–220.
  19. ^ Benny Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinain Refugee Problem Revisited". ISBN 0-521-33028-9. p. 115.
  20. ^ Gelber, p.114
  21. ^ Larry Collins/Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem. History Book Club, London, (1972) (hb). p.281. They count seven 75 millimeter and three 105 millimeter guns.
  22. ^ a b Gelber, p.122
  23. ^ Gelber, p.279
  24. ^ Am-Ad, Karni (17 February 2010). "Mishmar HaEmek: Discussion groups on first privatizations". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  25. ^ a b c Am-Ad, Karni (24 August 2011). "קיבוץ משמר העמק חילק בונוס גדול לחברים [Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek distributed a big bonus to the members]". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  26. ^ a b Orni, Efraim (2008). "MISHMAR HA-EMEK". Jewish Virtual Library. 
  27. ^ a b Koren, Ora (25 January 2015). "Outrage in Mishmar HaEmek: The kibbutz lost 140 million shekels in foreign currency transactions". TheMarker (in Hebrew). Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  28. ^ Dagan, David (14 July 2010). "Kibbutz Diary: Business savvy? These socialists have plenty". Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 July 2016. 
  29. ^ a b 1931 census of Palestine, as given in Mills, 1932, p. 94
  30. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 48[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ a b c d e f Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics List of localities, geographical character and population 1948, 1961, 1972, 1983, 1995
  32. ^ a b Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Localities file 2008
  33. ^ Kibbutz's page in romgalil.org.il
  34. ^ a b c d e Getzov, Nimrod; Barzilai, Omry (12 November 2011). "Mishmar Ha-'Emeq (el-Ghaba et-Tahta)". Israel Antiquities Authority. Retrieved 24 July 2016. 


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