Professionals against Populism

The Peres Government and Democracy

By Michael Keren

Subjects: Leadership Studies
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791425640, 147 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425633, 147 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents


1. Introduction

2. Knowledge and Democracy

3. Law and Security

4. In Quest of Moderation

5. The Social Contract

6. Conclusion





Based on Shimon Peres's private papers, investigates the role of professionals--attorneys, strategic experts, and economists--in Israel's national unity government of 1984-1986 and assesses their impact on government policy.


This book, based on Shimon Peres's private papers, tells the unusual story of the Peres government of 1984-1986 in Israel. It is the story of an unpopular politician, demonized by his political enemies, who operates under great time restraints to manage a pluralistic democracy losing ground to enchanted masses in public squares.

Lacking support from his own national unity government, Peres reverted to his old-time alliance with Israel's technocrats in his combat against populism. Michael Keren analyzes the role of legal professionals, strategic experts, and economists in the three main events of the Peres era: the scandal over the killing of two Arab terrorists by the General Security Service; the efforts to renew the peace process in the Middle East after the Lebanon war; and the economic stabilization program of 1985. This analysis illumines Israel's hitherto unexplored technocratic stratum and its ongoing struggle over Israel's nature as an advanced industrial state. This stratum, the author contends, has been the moving force behind the construction of the nuclear reactor in Dimona in the 1960s, the combat against populism in the 1980s, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process of today.

Michael Keren is Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Tel-Aviv University. He is the author of Ben-Gurion and the Intellectuals: Power, Knowledge and Charisma and The Pen and the Sword: Israeli Intellectuals and the Making of the Nation-State.


"The topic of this book is significant to a wide variety of fields, from political sociology and culture to law, government, and the history of ideas. There are a number of books on the role of intellectuals in government, but I am not familiar with a book that takes Keren's angle in exploring this case. He sheds new light on the events of the post-Lebanon period. " -- Pnina Lahav, Boston University

"The substantive focus of this book, the Peres-led national unity government, is important and to my knowledge has not yet been the subject of serious scholarly treatment. The importance of this work lies in the author's analysis of the different roles played by Israeli intellectuals and professionals in the policies developed and implemented by the Peres government. " -- Ian S. Lustick, University of Pennsylvania