Capitalist nationalism and Zionist state-building, 1920s-1950s: Chocolate and diamonds in Mandate Palestine and Israel

David De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nationalism of business is a crucial issue in the history of British-ruled Palestine (1917-1947) and post-1948 Israel. The importation of Jewish private capital into Palestine was a key factor in shaping the economic development of the Zionist settler project, and in creating an advantage over the Arab community. The Zionism of the Jewish firms was an essential aspect of the political consensus in the Jewish polity and its state-building aspirations. Moreover, the participation of companies in World War II, the war of 1948, and in the establishment of Israel was an essential resource that was mobilized for the Zionist economic expansion and triggered the absorption of Holocaust survivors and Jewish immigrants from Arab and North African countries. These national expressions of private firms harbour a complexity. They illustrate political and cultural beliefs, and an active affiliation to a national movement. At the same time, they are instrumental in the sense that firms benefitted materially and culturally from this association. Furthermore—and particularly relevant to states that have emerged from a colonial past—these practices do not evolve only from the businesses themselves but also from the impact of statist structures on the nationalism of firms. These aspects are discussed through the prism of chocolate manufacturing and the diamond-cutting industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-62
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Modern European History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation621/06, 998/16


    • Diamond industry
    • Zionist project
    • capitalist nationalism
    • chocolate industry


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