Arnon Lammfromm’s book presents the politics of Levi Eshkol (1895-1969), one of the founding figures of modern Israel, who led its economic growth as its Minister of the Treasury (1952-1963). As Prime Minister (1963-1969) he led the country while facing complex challenges, such as overcoming the Arab threat which reached its peak in the Six Day War, as well as adjusting the economy to changing needs through the steps of austerity. Eshkol had to step into the big shoes of Ben-Gurion, confront and overcome him. He also succeeded, for the first time in Israeli history, to sign a formal and secret memorandum with the United States which served as one of the foundations of the military victory in 1967.
Lammfromm’s main argument is that Eshkol built his career as a “bureaucratic” leader who specializes in many areas, but not as a “charismatic” leader (drawing on Max Weber’s terminology), since his rhetorical abilities were limited. As long as he made use of his capabilities as a bureaucratic leader he was able to compensate for his charismatic weaknesses. But since 1966 he diminished his use of his bureaucratic abilities, increasing his political weakness, and eventually costing him the defense ministry on the eve of the Six Day War.
Despite resulting in a different party configuration, the results of the 2013 Israeli general election support a similar agenda to the one set by the previous government. A year following its establishment, all indicators suggest that the current government continues to deepen neoliberal policies. Nevertheless, this election reflects two important trends: first, an ever growing discontent in Israeli public that probably would not find a solution during the tenure of the incoming government; second, lack of interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that might generate negative long-term consequences.