Praise and Scorn for the Global Political Economy of Israel



“One of the most valuable political economy studies of the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . . a work going to the dark heart of the interface between Israeli politics and America’s power structure”.


Emad El-Din Marei Aysha, Logos



The Global Political Economy of Israel is hard to review without superlatives. . . . I read it as a desert traveller who has finally reached an oasis. It is full of details, flatters the reader, but demands an intellectual effort. In return, it explains not only the ‘how’ but also the ‘why’. Bichler and Nitzan have put aside the justifications, the misleading terminology, the disinformation, the speculation in blood. They came to the party with their cameras, only that instead of conventional film, they used x-rays”.


– Haim Baram, Kol Ha’eer



“With the publication of Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler’s The Global Political Economy of Israel the challenge to the established discourse about Israeli society and history is not only renewed, but also taken further in a far more radical fashion than ever before. The account Nitzan and Bichler offer is not only a radical re-interpretation of Israel past and present, it is also a major contribution to our understanding of the phenomenon commonly referred to as “globalization,” as well as a radical challenge to established disciplinary boundaries and our approach to the study of politics and the economy. . . . The Global Political Economy of Israel is a highly challenging account of the Jewish state and argues that post-Zionism may not simply be a new ideological development, but may indeed be the logical consequence of Israel’s evolution as a capitalist society. . . . It is also an all-out, all-round attack on political scientists, international relations scholars, and liberal and neo-liberal economists, which invites a great deal of controversy. Although the evidence is sometimes presented in an anecdotal style (which may serve as an excuse to discard an inconvenient analysis for many) it is thorough and deserves to stir up controversy, not only with regard to the interpretation of Israel’s past, but also with respect to the general theoretical understanding of what politics is and how social change occurs. . . . Nitzan and Bichler deserve the attention of a larger audience. All those who read the New Historians and followed the debates on the revisionist historiography closely, as well as those interested in globalization and its implications for the social and political spheres, should study this book intensively and consider its interpretations and wider implications. Disagree one may, but ignore, one cannot afford. Forget the New Historians, these are the real revisionists”.


– Dr. Markus R. Boullion, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University



“The reader will find in this book a whole world, Kafkaesque in nature and scope. . . . Naturally, it deserves attention from economists . . . but it could also be read as a first-class cultural document. Above all, it is a grand, perpetual deconstruction of Israel’s material reality, a penetrating, sarcastic and well-written study of ‘where we live’. Rarely does a single book transform the entire worldview of a reader. This book does it. Eye opening. Depressing”.


– Dror Burstein, Kol Ha’eer



“A startling book that offers a new way of looking not only at recent Israeli political history, but a new way of looking at politics and economics period. Nitzan and Bichler may really be on to something big – I can also recommend reading their theories regarding the real reasons behind the war on Iraq on their website. It’s pretty mind-blowing stuff”.


– Issandr El Amrani, Former Editor of the Cairo Times



“When it comes to Israel, it sometimes seems that so much has been written that new authors will be fated either to reshuffle existing prose or to examine past and present through ever more power microscopes. Then, once in a while, someone comes along with original ideas. This book is a persuasive and hard hitting consideration of Israel’s development in a global political economy context. Those who feel poorly acquainted with economics should not be deterred from reading it: they will be rewarded not only by deeper insights into the processes shaping current events, but by moments of revelation”.


– John Gee, Middle East International



“You could agree or disagree with The Global Political Economy of Israel, but it is undoubtedly the most riveting and outstanding political economy book you would have read this year”.


– Globes



“A gripping read. . . . The Global Political Economy of Israel presents an analysis that reads like a breath of fresh air in a stultified body of literature so obviously at odds with reality. . . . A remarkable investigation into the concrete workings of the Israeli and U.S. economies that avoids the fatuous generalities of much of the globalization literature, it presents a challenging theoretical framework that not only clarifies the past but also seeks to understand the present. . . . A powerful conceptual framework for understanding the latest crisis in the global political economy”.


– Adam Hanieh, Monthly Review



“An arresting and creative book. Moving beyond standard explanations, the authors reveal the underpinnings of Israeli history and politics, and in doing so provide a new framework to examine other such societies in global politics”.


– Jeffrey Harrod, Professor of International Political Economy, University of Amsterdam



“I devoured it in few days. It is a great, impressive and illuminating book, as well as a fascinating read. The enemies of Bichler and Nitzan, but also their admirers, will now be a thousand-fold”.


– Aryeh Kofsky, Professor of Comparative Religion, Haifa University



I read the hundreds of pages of this book like a thriller. . . . There is a great deal of anger in this book and a great deal of humor. Reading economic literature is usually very boring. This book is fascinating. Marxists and socialists of all kinds, if they don’t want to give answers from the day before yesterday to yesterday’s questions, should definitely read it”.


Itzhak Laor, Professor of Literature, Tel Aviv University



“A bombshell book.”


– Mark Levine, Professor of Middle East Studies, Culture and Islamic Studies, University of `California, Irvine



“In this remarkably researched and thoughtful study, Nitzan and Bichler argue that because of Israel's difficult political relation with neighboring Arab States there has been little scholarship on Israel's emergence as a capitalist society. The consensus about the primacy of politics, that is the political survival of the Israeli State in a hostile region, has virtually eclipsed serious economic analysis of Israel's class structure. Responding to this disparity, the authors organize their own research and analysis around what they consider to be three inseparable issues: capital accumulation, formation of the ruling class and globalization. This historical analysis of Israel's market economy will be of great value to anyone interested in the conditions of global political economy in general”.


Modern Times Bookstore



"A must-read for anyone interested in global and Middle-East economics and politics”.


– Professor Moshé Machover, Kings College



“Bichler and Nitzan are without doubt two of the more innovative political economists in the world right now. Relying primarily on data gathered by themselves, with brutal precision and unwavering logic they dispense with the thick layer of ideologies and mystification to lay bare the innermost structures of power of Israeli society. This accessible but deeply disturbing book is not only the most authoritative study of the Israeli State to date, but also a significant contribution to state theory and globalisation. I would place it on par with Poulantzas’ work in the seventies. It is a masterpiece”.


– Ronen Palan, Professor of International Political Economy, University of Sussex



“The term ‘political economy’ in Nitzan and Bichler's work gives the book away. It is neither economics nor political science but flow-of-consciousness Marxoid rhetoric. The authors could not pass a quiz in first-year economics, and I doubt they would do well in freshman political science either. Instead, they pack their book with the usual leftist pseudo-thoughts. . . . Not a single Marxist hypothesis that contradicts neoclassical economics can be supported with empirical evidence. . . . The Global Political Economy of Israel is full of baseless sweeping generalities unsupported by any scientific evidence at all. . . .To the extent that there really is a ‘dominant class’ in Israel, it consists of yuppie leftists who vote for the left-wing political parties, in other words people very much like the two authors themselves. . . . Never mind that many of Israel's ‘dominant capitalists’ (a term the authors seem to believe means something) are kibbutzim, labor unions, pension funds, and the public sector. . . . The book is true to the genre of radical ‘scholarship’ in believing that nothing is so powerfully analytic as the invention of a nice polysyllable. . . . Such pomposity, mixed with a few macroeconomic structural equations with some Greek letters that the authors clearly do not understand, is meant to convey the impression of depth and scholarship. Could the authors even read a balance of payments table?”


– Steven Plaut, Middle East Quarterly



“Throwing stones at a glass house is fine if the thrower does not himself sit in one. On this the authors fail miserably. . . .  The authors' stumbles in matters of fact are legend. . . .Strangely, the authors never mention the one comprehensive analysis of Israel's political economy that takes a view diametrically opposed to theirs, and maintains that Israel's story is best understood in terms of socialist ideology implemented via the labor and financial markets (Yakir Plessner, The Political Economy of Israel: From Ideology to Stagnation, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994). . . .


Yakir Plessner The Middle East Journal



“While this book is rather ingenious, creative, and even amusing on occasion, it is also a highly biased, Marxist reading of both US and Israeli economic history and policy. . . . while the book is certainly provocative, it is misleading and will convince only the already convinced.”


J. Prager, Choice



“Highly recommended to anyone concerned with the fate of Israeli society. This type of book has never been written in Israel before, and it also has room on the global bookshelf. . . . The political-economic elite won’t be happy if you read it.”


Dror Reshef, Hevra



“A startling Veblenian–Marxist account of Israeli society and its integration into the global economy that dispenses with all of the prevailing orthodoxies on the subject. . . . The Global Political Economy of Israel is a brilliant and disturbing book, as well as a surprisingly accessible and playful read. It operates on many levels, simultaneously providing a novel theory of capital accumulation and inter-capitalist competition, a fresh take on US imperial adventures in the Middle East and a history of the Israeli political economy. Its insistences on the centrality of big business within Israeli society, and on Israel’s integration into global circuits of capital, are an important antidote to the culturalism and statism that so dominate discussions of the country; and it is full of challenging theses on subjects as varied as the roots of inflation and the incidence of corporate mergers, as well as wonderfully gossipy insights on the machinations of Israel’s elites. Inevitably, though, a book of this ambition raises almost as many questions as it answers”.


Jan Selby, New Political Economy



“A comprehensive worldview, complete with a system of concepts and deep structural arguments. . . . It is an interdisciplinary book which deals not only with economics, but also with history, philosophy, political science and sociology – and here lies it strength, since it enables for the first time to understand historical events in their economic context”.


– Shir Hever, Ha’aretz



The Global Political Economy of Israel is a gripping read, for specialists and non-specialists alike. Amateurs of novel theoretical explorations into the field of political economy will enjoy Nitzan’s and Bichler’s truly original and often controversial analysis of economic phenomena, such as capital accumulation, stagflation, corporate amalgamation and global integration, while readers less versed in economic theory will appreciate the authors’ avoidance of unnecessary jargon and propitious explanations of the terms they use. But the greatest merit of the book undoubtedly lies in its remarkable combination of challenging theoretical analysis and fascinating empirical investigation of the Israeli and US economies, spiced with some delightfully embarrassing details about Israel’s most respectable politicians and businessmen”.


Hannah Starman, Millennium



“This innovative and thoroughly researched examination of Israel in the global political economy is a brilliant addition to the growing ‘new political economy’ literature. The volume is distinguished by its engaging style. Theories are laid out clearly and evaluated empirically with reference to a rich descriptive and quantitative data base that includes economic and political variables. Indeed, among the greatest strengths of this work is the way that economics and politics are fully integrated throughout; another is how well the authors site Israel’s domestic political economy in a larger web of external strategic and economic relationships. I recommend it highly and look forward to sharing it with my students”.


Mary Ann Tétreault, Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, Trinity University



"Nitzan and Bichler brilliantly excavate the direct link between Israeli aggression and oil companies' drive to boost their profits through war-induced higher oil prices. The popular responses to this 'blood for oil' dynamic include democratic internationalism and its terrorist antithesis".


– Terisa E. Turner, Professor, University of Guelph, Canada



“It is easy to get trapped in the web of silk threads that Nitzan and Bichler interweave in this fascinating manuscript on international politics and national-global capitalism. . . . ‘The Global Political Economy of Israel’ is one of the most important books on political-economics. It presents a critical and coherent picture of Israel’s development from the ‘national’ phase to the global and manages to derive insights on the forms of making a ruling class. For that reason, the book is not only for Israeli readers. The book can be addressed to researchers and students of political and social geography all over the world, who are interested in state theory and in processes of accumulation and globalization – mainly in relation to the intensification of multi-national corporations and transnational capitalism”.


– Erez Tzfadia, Antipode



“Professional academics will, of course, hate it. They will say it is not ‘science’ and they will say it is not scholarship, it will be called ‘journalism’ and all that. But you guys knew of course what you were doing. And I am glad you did it this way, because I would have never even opened the book if it were classical scholarship. Life is too short. I found it a good read, a very good read, illuminating, very funny at times, and even when I did not agree (because my views on life, social justice, political organization, are very different than yours), I found it challenging and engaging. I also loved, just loved, all the gossipy snippets. A 'Must' read for anyone interested in the debate about globalization and its discontents, this book pricks and deflates all hot air balloons in sight”.


– Joseph H.H. Weiler, Jean Monnet Professor of Law, NYU



“Dismantles neoclassical economic dogma and keeps radical economics honest by doing the empirical dirty work that most economic commentators sidestep. . . .  Gives more firepower against the neoliberal worldview than any other text I’ve read. . . . Nitzan and Bichler enfold several truly radical assertions into this work. . . . This book has enormous potential for bolstering the case against globalization in its current incarnation. It is the best tool I have found for making extremely intelligent free market fans have second thoughts because the evidence is so well compiled and laid out and the authors are not afraid to dispel prevalent myths amongst the left despite being self-described Marxists (they quarrel with his theory of value, not his more broad-ranging commentary)”.


– Znet



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