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Politics and Society in Ottoman Palestine: The Arab Struggle for Survival andPower

Donna Robinson Divine
ISBN: 978-1-55587-473-5
1994/230 pages/LC: 93-40820

"Provides an excellent overview of central features of Palestinian history in the latter phases of Ottoman rule."—Shofar

"A welcome and highly readable interpretation that combines macro-level analysis with a micro-level examination of Palestinian society during the Ottoman age."—Middle East Journal

"After reading Divine’s detailed study, it will be impossible for anyone to believe that Palestine was a land without a people."—Journal of Third World Studies

"Divine uses the lens of empire to weave the economic, social, and political threads into a coherent picture of Palestine in the nineteenth century, with good coverage of the Young Turk period and the First World War. Though much of the material has appeared in disparate sources and as isolated monographs, Divine’s compelling study of this largely neglected period to the history of Palestine incorporates them into an important and integrated analysis."—The International History Review

"Divine's insightful study offers a welcome contribution to scholars' understanding of Palestinian society during the Ottoman era... While advancing the debate about Ottoman rule in Palestine, Divine simultaneously details changing patterns of life in 19th-century Palestine within the context of a state-society dialectic."—Middle East Journal

"This is enlightening work by Ms. Divine is an important contribution to our library on Ottoman Palestine."—DOMES

"Divine draws on an impressive array of Arabic, Hebrew, and other scholarly resources to show that Palestine was "not a newborn politically" in the wake of WWI."—Choice


In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Palestine was neither a single territorial unit nor a discrete political entity. This book surveys political, economic, and social developments among Palestinian Arabs during this time, demonstrating that how they defined their communities reflected the impact of imperial and international forces, as well as those of class, family, religion, and ecology.

Divine reveals, through descriptions of everyday life, how Palestinian Arabs of various classes coped with invasion, foreign occupation, imperialism, political reform, war, and finally, devastating military defeat. Ultimately, however, well-established social linkages and economic ties were not enough to prepare them for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, which brought with it not only a totally new geography and an alien political framework, but a fiercely competitive battle with Zionism. Their legacy of political and economic resources left Palestinian Arabs ill-equipped to handle the pressures introduced by British rule.


Donna Robinson Divine is professor of government at Smith College. Her previous publications include Women Living Change: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (coedited with Susan Bourque).


  • Introduction: A Century of Change.
  • Arab Society and Economy in Palestine, 1800-1831.
  • Invasion and Occupation: Egyptian Rule, 1831-1840.
  • Restoration and Early Reforms, 1840-1875.
  • The Impact of Ottoman Reforms and Western Economic Expansion, 1875-1908.
  • The Young Turk Revolution, 1908-1914.
  • Palestine in World War I.
  • Reflections on British Rule.