Unexceptional for Once: Austerity and Food Rationing in Israel, 1939-1959
35 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009 Last revised: 28 Apr 2015
Date Written: February 26, 2009
Of all the hardships that human societies have endured over history, food shortage stirs some of the strongest emotions. That is certainly the case in Israel: soon after its establishment, the State of Israel, desperately poor and reeling from a grueling War of Independence, absorbed an enormous influx of newcomers with a little food and little hard cash. Israel had to institute an emergency rationing plan for the distribution of food, as well as many other goods and commodities. Emergency legislation was put in place and tough enforcement methods were utilized to make the austerity scheme effective.
While the physical conditions in nascent Israel were indeed arduous and the legal administration was tough and heavy-handed, what is noteworthy is that this experience was not at all unique to Israel. Indeed, in the mid-twentieth century, during the beginning of Israel's establishment, arduous physical, legal and political conditions were extremely pervasive experiences among most nations of the world - including the richest and most developed ones.
This Article aims to place the Israeli legal and social experience in a wider context by reminding the contemporary reader of the near universal experience of hardship during and following World War II.
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