Israel: A Union That Is Big Business

The leggy El Al stewardess belongs to it, and so does the professor at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, the orange picker in the kibbutz and the housewife in Haifa. Israel's Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and most of his Cabinet are card-carrying, dues-paying members. All are enrolled in an extraordinary organization called the Histadrut, Israel's huge and powerful 900,000-member labor federation.

Histadrut, literally "the organization," is really far more than a union: it is big business. Through a holding company, Hevrat Ovdim, it controls 2,000 Israeli businesses and farm cooperatives, employs a quarter...

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