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Diamonds and War: State, Capital, and Labor in British-Ruled Palestine

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Diamonds and War

State, Capital, and Labor in British-Ruled Palestine

David De Vries

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched.

362 pages, 19 tables, 10 figures, 10 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-633-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2010)

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“well-written and meticulously researched and following several story lines.  ·  International Review of Social History

This book, aimed at labour historians but also interesting to scholars engaged in Colonial Studies, provides a valuable account of how government and private capital became intertwined, thereby wresting the power over policy from the common people and handing it to those motivated mainly by their own profit, resulting in painful inequalities that reverberate in Israel to this very day.”  ·  European Review of History—Revue européenne d’histoire

This is an important and thorough study that will speak to students and scholars of economic thought,  labour history, colonialism, capitalism and British-ruled Palestine.  ·  Social History

This meticulously researched and well-written book establishes the author as the ultimate authority on the diamond-cutting and –marketing business of Israel and as one of the leading writers… on the history of the world diamond industry. Even for those with a solid background in mining and business history, there is much to learn from this lengthy, complex, and intriguing study.”  ·  Business History Review

“This well-written, highly detailed book is superbly researched: De Vries has made use of multiple archives, memoirs, and contemporary publications, including the diamond trade press. The book may not offer an easy read for undergraduate-level classes. It will be of interest to a cross-disciplinary range of business and economic historians, scholars of labor or empire, and historians of Mandatory Palestine and Zionism.  ·  American Historical Review

The author’s meticulous research, uncovering and fruitfully utilizing a rich body of archival and published sources, has enabled him to unfold the fascinating story of the war-related emergence of diamond cutting and polishing in Palestine and place it within its appropriate domestic colonial, and international contexts…The detailed and insightful narrative it offers is a valuable contribution to our knowledge.  ·  The Journal of Israeli History

 “The author has thoroughly researched the topic—indeed sixty-page pages are given to appendices and notes. The book will be useful for any collection devoted to industrial development, labor relations, and the social history of state-building in mandatory Palestine, and will be an essential reference book on how the Israeli diamond industry became established."  ·  Israel Studies Review


The mining of diamonds, their trading mechanisms, their financial institutions, and, not least, their cultural expressions as luxury items have engaged the work of historians, economists, social scientists, and international relations experts. Based on previously unexamined historical documents found in archives in Belgium, England, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United States, this book is the first in English to tell the story of the formation of one of the world’s main strongholds of diamond production and trade in Palestine during the 1930s and 1940s. The history of the diamond-cutting industry, characterized by a long-standing Jewish presence, is discussed as a social history embedded in the international political economy of its times; the genesis of the industry in Palestine is placed on a broad continuum within the geographic and economic dislocations of Dutch, Belgian, and German diamond-cutting centers. In providing a micro-historical and interdisciplinary perspective, the story of the diamond industry in Mandate Palestine proposes a more nuanced picture of the uncritical approach to the strict boundaries of ethnic-based occupational communities. This book unravels the Middle-eastern pattern of state intervention in the empowerment of private capital and recasts this craft culture’s inseparability from international politics during a period of war and transformation of empire.

David De Vries is an Associate Professor at the Department of Labor Studies at Tel Aviv University, Israel. He studied history at the LSE and Warwick University. A social historian, his primary research interests are modern labor and business history of Palestine and Israel. His publications include Idealism and Bureaucracy in 1920s Palestine: The Origins of ‘Red Haifa’ (1999, in Hebrew) and Dock Workers: International Explorations in Labor History, 1790–1970 (2000, co-edited). Currently he is writing on strikes in Israeli history and is involved in a project on new perspectives in the business history of the modern Middle East.

Subject: Economic History 20th Century History
Area: Middle East & Israel

Diamonds and War by David De Vries is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) with support from Knowledge Unlatched.

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB

OA ISBN: 978-1-78920-117-8


List of Figures and Tables
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

Global and National: War, Diamonds and the Colonial State

Chapter 1. Palestine as an Alternative
Local Initiatives
The Pressure of the War
The Logic of Limited Expansion

Chapter 2. The Making of a Monopoly
Effects of the Occupation
Organizing Capital
Power and Contestation

Chapter 3. Diamond Work and Zionist Time
The Reign of the Small Stone
Gain and Discipline
Facing the 'Triangular Thread'
Splintering Labor's Voice
Zionist Legitimacy

Chapter 4. The Challenge and its Constraints
In Antwerp's Absence
The Politics of Supply
Adamant London
Accountability and Vindication

Chapter 5. Labor Unrest
Actors and Issues
The First General Strike
Propensity to Strike
The Long Showdown

Chapter 6. Liberation and Liberalization
Contrasts at War's End
Incipient De-Control

Chapter 7. Crisis and Restructuring
Reversal of Fortunes
National Intervention
Labor's Moment

Chapter 8. Reproducing the Pact
State of Transition
The Pact


Table A.1 Explanation of Names of Diamond Factories in 1930-1950 Palestine
Table A.2 Establishment of Diamond Factories in Palestine, 1937-1941
Table A.3 Origins of Main Owners of Diamond Factories in Palestine, November 1941
Table A.4 Diamond Factories (PDMA Membership), Palestine November 1944
Table A.5 Diamond Factories (PDMA Membership), Palestine November 1946
Table A.6 Diamond Cooperatives in Palestine/Israel, 1946-1949


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