Labor Zionism, the State, and Beyond

An Interpretation of Changing Realities and Changing Histories

in Israel Studies Review
Author: Mitchell Cohen
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This article surveys changes and arguments in the historiography and politics of Israel especially in the post-1977 period, ranging from the New Historians through recent discussions of Mamlakhtiyut (statism), an ideological term for the policies pursued in the early years of statehood by David Ben-Gurion. The article is especially concerned with social democratic or socialist questions, as Mamlakhtiyut subordinated institutions of the Labor movement to those of the state. The article suggests that there were alternatives to Mamlakhtiyut in the 1950s that ought to be reconsidered today. This is especially so given the contemporary political dominance of Labor's traditional foes and new realities faced by states in a “globalizing” world. The article suggests that aspects of recent historiography can be seen as descending from the mental universe of Rafi, the breakaway party Ben-Gurion formed in 1965 after splitting from Mapai. Parallels to other political developments and alternative historiography are suggested. This article revises and expands the “Postface” (Afterword) for the new second French edition (2014) of the author's Zion and State (originally published in 1987), which presented a critique of Mamlakhtiyut.

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