Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State through the 21st Century

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State through the 21st Century

Article excerpt

The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State through the 21st Century. By Paul Rivlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 288 pp. $90 ($31.99, paper).

Rivlin, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, provides an introduction to Israeli economic history for those unfamiliar with the subject. His book covers both the economy and society of the pre-state and post-independence periods with emphasis on its early years. Separate chapters are focused on Israel and the Palestinians, on Israeli Arabs, and on socioeconomic inequality in the Jewish state.

Rivlin is a prolific writer who has done interesting work on economic history, but economic policy analysis is not his forte. Hence the volume is weak when it comes to asking and answering why certain financial policies were pursued. Additionally, Rivlin's ideological biases occasionally creep through, such as in his chapters on Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. For example, he fails to mention how Israel's large cash, underground economy helps explain the higher unemployment rate among Arabs who often work without reporting income.

The book has other weaknesses. Much of its prose is "talking statistics" where tables of numbers are presented, and the author talks his reader through them. But Rivlin should give readers credit that they can understand a simple table or graph and concentrate instead on the implications of the statistics. It is also weak in analyzing the more interesting economic policy challenges and problems, both micro and macro, that Israel's economy faces and has faced. …

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