Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lawrence of Arabia: Serious Zionist

Who Knew?

Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence - better known as "Lawrence of Arabia" - and renowned as a champion of Arab independence, actually had "a sort of contempt for the Arabs" and was an advocate of Jewish statehood from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, according to acclaimed British historian Sir Martin Gilbert...

T.E. Lawrence ... wore Arabian clothes and adopted many Arab customs. He is widely perceived, Gilbert told The Jerusalem Post this week, as "the great Arabist, right? ...

The "astonishing" truth, however, Gilbert went on, is that Lawrence was "a serious Zionist. He believed that the only hope for the Arabs of Palestine and the rest of the region was Jewish statehood - that if the Jews had a state here, they would provide the modernity, the 'leaven,' as he put it, with which to enable the Arabs to move into the 20th century."...

"He felt that only with a Jewish presence and state would the Arabs ever make anything of themselves. And, by a Jewish state, he meant a Jewish state from the Mediterranean shore to the River Jordan," said Gilbert, adding his own comment that this "will never come to pass."

Gilbert, in Israel for the International Book Fair, described his discovery of Lawrence's Zionist orientation as the most surprising archival revelation he had come across from an Israeli perspective...

And here is a comment in general from Gilbert about how the present understanding of history is often wrong:

"As a historian, I'm very cautious about anyone's claiming to know what any government is doing at the present time," he said. "I study archives as soon as they are open - normally 30 years after an event; sometimes a bit less. What you see when you do this is that the people you imagined had been strong were weak; the people you thought weak were strong; and things you thought couldn't possibly be taking place were taking place."

The distorting effect of "it bleeds, it leads," and journalists wanting to influence the outcome of events and writing their pieces in that way fortunately will have much less effect on the judgment of history 30 years on. Not to say that it will be nil, but it will be mitigated.

Thus, the change in Reagan's reputation in the intervening period, and thus, too, if Bush policies change the status quo in the ME in the long term, we'll see a very different historical judgement on him than the one he has at present.

Hat Tip: Stephen Pollard

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At 3:14 PM, Blogger James Barr said...

I'm not so sure.


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