Arab nationalism in the words of Lawrence of Arabia

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lawrence of Arabia

I am researching and writing a book to be called ‘Battles for the Holy Land – 1917 and beyond.’

The book recalls the exploits of General Allenby and others that led to the liberation of Jerusalem. It’s arrival will be timely as next year will mark a 100 years since that milestone.

The book will feature events from this period in history and the characters that participated in them, including Lawrence of Arabia who raised the standing of the Hashemites under British patronage, but here is what he wrote about Arab nationalism.

Here is a quote I reprise in the book;

“Their idea of nationality is the independence of tribes and parishes and their idea of national union is episodic, combined resistance to an intruder. Constructive politics, an organized state, and an extensive empire are not only beyond their capacity, but anathema to their instincts.

Unless we, or our Allies, make an efficient Arab empire, there will never be more than a discordant mosaic of provisional administrations.”

Irrespective of the mess that the Great Powers made in carving up the Arab world, we can see the mess being made today by the Arabs themselves on themselves.

Look at the divergent Palestinian Arabs. Even in their microcosm they cannot come together to build their own state. They hate and kill each other even as they hate us.

A world that failed to understand the Arabs then should heed the words of T.E.Lawrence echoing to us from a hundred years ago.

His words are as relevant today they were when he wrote them in November 1916.

Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. 

Author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’