One of the few areas of consensus in the research on Israeli politics is that of the political weakness of the Israeli business sector during the first two decades of statehood. The author claims that this consensus does not, however, justify the avoidance by scholars of the Israeli polity of conducting a systematic research into the factors that shaped the weakness of such an important sector, and therefore aims to suggest an explanation of the power of the Israeli businesses through an examination of the role and the behaviour of one of the leading interest groups in Israeli society - The Manufacturers' Association of Israel (MAI). The passive role played by the MAI in shaping the industrial-development policy during the period 1956-65 is analysed through: (a) analysis of the organisational resources of the MAI; and (b) examination of the MAI's role in two cases of public-policy making, namely the Textile Industry Development Plan and the Trade Liberalisation Program. The current political science literature regarding the factors that are often mentioned as shaping the power of business only partially explains the weakness of Israeli businesses. The author's main arguments are that nationalism can explain the weakness of the MAI better than can any other factor, and that the literature concerning the power of business should therefore pay more attention to the relationship between nationalism and the power of business. In the concluding part of the paper the findings are used as a basis for a discussion of the weakness of the Israeli civil society, and of the role played by nationalism in shaping this weakness.