Michele Bachmann's Hand-Written Kibbutz Letter Is Kind Of Sweet


Here’s a letter eighteen-year-old Michele Bachmann wrote in the diary of Ziva Yellin, at the end of Bachmann’s summer on Yellin’s Kibbutz, Beeri. In 1974, remarking on Yellin and her friend being bilingual, Bachmann wrote, “I feel stupid next to both of you.”

The Israeli daily Yediot Achronot went looking through the archives of the kibbutz, an institution which happens to be the apotheosis of Israel’s socialist roots. (Plus: Socialized medicine! Don’t tell right-wing Zionists). The paper also spoke to Yellin, then twelve, and now an artist who runs the same kibbutz’s gallery, and who had found her diary with good wishes from Bachmann.

Yellin said the congresswoman and presidential candidate was part of a group of “beautiful girls” she met at the swimming pool that summer. They were all volunteers sponsored by a Christian ministry. Yellin remembers Bachmann and her friends asking questions about the sleeping arrangements at the kibbutz, and about children being raised in separate quarters from their parents. She recalled Bachmann being “very beautiful, warm, curious, with a lot of sympathy for us.”

Years later, in a speech to AIPAC, Bachmann said of her time there, “We worked on the kibbutz from 4 am to noon. We were always accompanied by soldiers with machine guns. While we were working, the soldiers were walking around looking for land mines. I really learned a lot in Israel.” She added, “I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish, because it is the foundation, the roots of my faith as a Christian.” Nonetheless, her time in Israel apparently never taught her how to pronounce a word that is pretty crucial there: chutzpah.

Special thanks to Haggai Carmon

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