T. E. Lawrence Was a WHAT?!

You’ve heard of ‘Ah ha’ moments, right?

Well, I’ve just had a ‘Whoa’ moment.

You know T.E. Lawrence? As in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’? The guy who wrote ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’? The guy who led the Arabs in their fight to oust the Ottomans and Germans from Palestine? The ever-so-British symbol of Arab nationalism?

Right, that T.E. Lawrence.

Well, it seems that a careful review of the archives shows that he was a Zionist!

Here’s a quote from Ruthie Blum’s article, Martin Gilbert: Lawrence of Arabia was a Zionist, in The Jerusalem Post:

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.” 

These revelations are disclosed in his recent book, Churchill and the Jews.

I am as cynical about a claim like this as a claim to have discovered an honest politician. I would sooner believe in the existence of the Yeti (big foot) or the Loc Ness Monster. But T.E. Lawrence as a Zionist?

No way. 

But, this is Sir Martin Gilbert, the historian, and he discovered this astounding fact after a careful review of the archives. Here’s another snippet from the article:

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.

But he stressed that archival sources consistently showed major discrepancies between what is really going on in world affairs and the inaccurate way in which events and personalities are perceived at the time.

“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.”  

It is hard to believe, but that’s like a lot of things with Israel. The unbelievable is just an every day kinda’ thing.

The Jerusalem Post will have a complete interview with Sir Martin Gilbert tomorrow, in the Friday edition of ‘UpFront Magazine’. It will undoubtedly be a fascinating article. Be sure to check it out. 

1 thought on “T. E. Lawrence Was a WHAT?!

  1. Oh, huzzah! I’ve always had a soft spot for old T.E., British imperialism notwithstanding, mainly because of his connections to Leonard Woolley and Sir William Flinders Petrie (yay, archaeology).

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