The study of the Arab-Israeli conflict has, in recent years, taken on a more historical cast, with new attention being paid to such issues as nineteenth-century Palestinian demographics, great power actions after World War I, and (especially) the events surrounding the creation of Israel. Scholch does not attempt to participate in any of these controversies, but he has ransacked archives in five countries to make available fresh and important information to ascertain "the characteristics that Arab-Palestinian society exhibited before the immigration of European Jews." The data he brings to light in this rambling but rich study should affect the debate.
Scholch titles his study "Palestine in Upheaval" because the quarter-century under review witnessed the emergence of some basic features which soon became critical to Palestine's future. These included a demographic surge, a decline in the power of local warlords, the export of agricultural produce, the British occupation of Egypt, and the first Zionist 'aliyah. Further, Scholch argues that the combination of the Ottoman Empire's centralizing policies and European penetration meant that Palestine in those years became a real political and administrative unit in the eyes of contemporary observers. "In this regard," he concludes, "the delineation of the boundaries of the Mandate for Palestine after World War I was not an arbitrary act."