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Book Reviews 127 process for action covering this twelve-year period provides some special insights into this complex policy and service instrument. In the postscript to the book, Ernest Stock reflects on the twenty-year period following his research, noting the fundamental changes associated with the Agency, including the transition of leadership, the change of governance, and the evolution of Israel's role and position within the Jewish world. The Agency story is a unique experiment binding the Jewish people together in a system of governance and organization that deserves consideration and thoughtful study, as demonstrated by this text. Steven F. Windmueller School ofJewish Communal Service Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles Politics and Society in Ottoman Palestine: The Arab Struggle for Survival and Power, by Donna Robinson Divine. Boulder, co: lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994. 226 pp. $38.00. Stimulated in part by the increasing importance of the Palestinian factor in Middle Eastern politics, studies of the history of the Palestinian Arab community have become something of a growth industry over the past two decades. Informed by the diverse and rich Ottoman, Zionist, and Palestinian Arab source-materials that have become available in recent years, Israeli, Palestinian, and Western scholars have produced numerous monographic studies ofvarious aspects of the Palestinian Arab experience in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Palestinian history has now acquired a substance and complexity going well beyond the simplistic and politically driven polar images of a land of desolation versus a happy and harmonious traditional society found in much of the earlier literature on the subject. Professor Divine has mined this new literature on Palestine to write a careful, up-to-date, and generally persuasive overview ofPalestinian Arab history from 1800 to the initial phases of British rule in the 1920s. The sources utilized in the study are remarkably diverse: material from recent Israeli and Palestinian scholarship, Palestinian memoirs, monographic studies of the later Ottoman period, and less frequently from British and Zionist official records are woven into a thoroughly documented account. The work's approach to Palestinian history is the refreshingly a-presentist one of attempting to understand that history in its own terms, rather than 128 SHOFAR Summer 1996 Vol. 14, No.4 as prologue to later Arab "weakness" or "failure" in the subsequent confrontation with the Zionist movement. Analyzing the political, economic, and social evolution of a sizable community over a period of more than a century is of course a formidable task. Some things are done better than others. The work is particularly strong in its sensitivity to the differential development-by region, by dass, by gender-of the internally heterogeneous Palestinian Arab community. Another plus is its attentiveness to shifts in family dynamics and to the changing position of women under the impact of economic growth and political change, topics not usually addressed in synthetic accounts of Palestinian history. Ostensibly a study of the Palestinian Arabs under Ottoman rule, the work in actuality is somewhat broader than its title implies. Its insightful conduding chapter offers a stimulating interpretation of the early years of the British Mandate and how British administrative and economic policies were ill-suited to the needs of the Palestinian economy as well as alien to the modes of political behavior which had come to characterize local politiCS in the later Ottoman era. Based largely on the existing secondary literature, the work is primarily an account of the political economy of Palestine. Two themes dominate its successive chapters dealing with the evolution of the Palestinian Arabs in different periods. One is the at first fitful, later rapid growth of the commercial and market-oriented economy of Palestine, the incorporation of the region into the nineteenth-century world economy, and the differential benefits flowing from that process. The other is the evolution of new methods of political activity and maneuver imposed by the changing Ottoman political context of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The work's main thesis is that on the whole Palestinian elites responded successfully to changing political conditions during the last century of Ottoman rule. Their first major adaptation was to move from reliance on locally based networks of patronage and power suitable to a decentralized imperial...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 127-128
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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