"A genuine contribution to the development and expansion of research on the evolution of the Israeli political system and the ways in which the deep processes of Israeli life should be understood."—Meir Chazan, Tel Aviv University
Israel’s 1977 political election resulted in a dramatic defeat for the ruling Labor movement, which had enjoyed more than four decades of economic, political, and cultural dominance. The government passed into the hands of the rightwing nationalist movement, marking a tumultuous episode in the history of both Israel and Jewish people at the start of the twenty-first century. Elmaliach chronicles the fascinating story of Israel’s political transformation between the 1950s and the 1970s, exploring the roots of the Labor movement’s historic collapse.
Elmaliach focuses on Mapam and its allied Kibbutz movement, Hakibbutz Ha’artzi, a segment of the Israeli Labor movement that was most committed to the synthesis of socialism and Zionism. Although Mapam and Hakibbutz Ha’artzi were not the largest factions in the Israeli Labor movement, their ability to combine an economic organization, a political party, and cultural institutions gave them a strong foundation on which to build their power. Conversely, the Labor movement’s crisis was, in large part, due to the economic upward mobility of the middle class, the emergence of new political orientations among supporters of the working-class parties, and the rise of cultural protests, which opposed the traditional workers’ parties. Offering an innovative analysis, Elmaliach argues that, ultimately, the sources of the Labor movement’s strength were also the causes of its weakness.
Tal Elmaliach is a postdoctoral fellow at the Ben-Gurion Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.
Haim Watzman is a Jerusalem-based writer and translator. He is the author, most recently, of Necessary Stories, a collection of short fiction. His previous books are Company C: An American’s Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel and A Crack in the Earth: A Journey up Israel’s Rift Valley.
6 x 9, 328 pages