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Strike Action and Nation Building
Labor Unrest in Palestine/Israel, 1899-1951
David De Vries
196 pages, 11 illus., 8 tables, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78238-809-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2015)
eISBN 978-1-78238-810-4 eBook
“The book has many qualities. It is well written and well structured, and it hosts several tables and figures, which are quite useful for the reader. In terms of research, De Vries skillfully combines primary sources – documents identified in several Israeli and British archives, and a vast amount of press (all the most relevant newspapers of the time have been consulted) — with the existing historiography, with which the author engages in a very productive way… this is certainly a very good and useful book, which sheds light on an interesting and relevant topic and allows a better understanding of the process of nation – and the statebuilding in Palestine/Israel.” · Middle East Media and Book Reviews
“A keen political, economic, and social historical scrutiny, Strike Action and Nation Building is a welcome contribution to college library International Studies shelves.” · Midwest Book Review
“This is simply one of the best books I have read on the history of Israel/Palestine in several years. It is easily among the top three or four best and most important of its type--but I would hasten to add that it is quite distinct…. Given the current climate of opinion, with overwhelmingly negative attitudes toward 'strikes' as instruments of labour relations, it is crucial that the phenomenon be situated and analysed in a historical context.” · Michael Berkowitz, University College London
“De Vries manages to combine a quantitative approach with story-telling…[This book] is well written with a view for detailed strike histories... I would recommend it especially [for studying] the relationship between labour and nationalism.” · Sjaak van der Velden, International Institute of Social History
Strike-action has long been a notable phenomenon in Israeli society, despite forces that have weakened its recurrence, such as the Arab-Jewish conflict, the decline of organized labor, and the increasing precariousness of employment. While the impact of strikes was not always immense, they are deeply rooted in Israel's past during the Ottoman Empire and Mandate Palestine. Workers persist in using them for material improvement and to gain power in both the private and public sectors, reproducing a vibrant social practice whose codes have withstood the test of time. This book unravels the trajectory of the strikes as a rich source for the social-historical analysis of an otherwise nation-oriented and highly politicized history.
David De Vries is a social historian in the department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University. Among his publications are Idealism and Bureaucracy in 1920s Palestine: The Origins of ‘Red Haifa’ (1999), Dock Workers: International Explorations in Labour History, 1790–1970 (2000, co-edited), and Diamonds and War: State, Capital, and Labor in British-Ruled Palestine (2010).