Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id TAA26450 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Thu, 7 Feb 2002 19:38:08 GMT From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: ply to Grant: Lawrence of Arabia Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 14:10:37 -0500 Message-ID: <NEBBKOADILIOKGDJLPMAKEKOCKAA.email@example.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Priority: 3 (Normal) X-MSMail-Priority: Normal X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook IMO, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2910.0) Importance: Normal In-Reply-To: <F131aYIPUfklMyLkEtp000147e2@hotmail.com> X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.2919.6600 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
Hi! Back from travels...
I haven't seen BlackHawk Down or know much about Somalia and the US, but I
do know something about Lawrence of Arabia...
> I had recently seen the DVD movie _Lawrence of Arabia_ (no, it
> wasn't about
> deBivort ;-)). How closely did this movie follow true history? What about
> Lawrence's _Seven Pillars of Wisdom_ book itself?
The movie was pretty good, factually, and given its artistic power, the
source of some pretty strong memes about the Arabs and their WWI history.
There had been more contacts between the British and the Hashimite Hijazi
leaders than the movie depicts (and they had visited Cairo several times
themselves). The movie also is a bit elliptical about the Sykes-Picot
treaty, which was a secret agreement between the British and the French to
divvy the Near East into spheres of influence. France was to get what
essentially is now Syria and Lebanon, and Britain Palestine, Trans-Jordan,
and Iraq. But Britain had earlier made a pledge (in the Hussein-McMahon
Agreement) to the Arabs: fight with us against the Ottoman Empire and we
will support your post-war independence. The Arabs, led by the Hashemites,
agreed and this provides the essential story of Lawrence of Arabia. In an
attempt to reconcile this agreement with the later Sykes-Picot treaty, the
British insisted on a clause that asserted that Britain and the UK would
support the self-determination of the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine, west
of the Homs-Hama and Aleppo line, and implementation of the whole Treaty was
made dependent on 'the cooperation of the Arabs.' In the movie, we see
allusions to this potential deception, and Lawrence's growing sense that the
Arabs were going to be betrayed by the British.
As I recall, there is no mention in the movie (correct me if I'm wrong,
please) of the Balfour Declaration, which was issued by the British to the
Zionist organizations a bit more than a year after the Sykes-Picot Treaty,
in which the British said they 'viewed with favor the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...' providing nothing
would be done that would prejudice the rights of the non-Jewish inhabitants
of Palestine. Of course, whatever comfort this restriction might have been
to the Palestinians was also betrayed in subsequent events. I don't know
whether Lawrence knew of the Balfour Declaration at the time of the events
of the movie (which do cover post-Balfour Declaration events in Damascus
with the declaration of the creation of the independent Syrian State), but
if he had it would undoubtedly have increased his sense that the Arabs were
going to be betrayed by Britain.
The book is also excellent -- great writing! -- and the only real area of
euphemistic portrayal of actual events has to do with Lawrence's
reconnoitering into Damascus, and his capture by Ottoman authorities. The
movie is suggestive on this point, but I don't know that Lawrence ever said
what happened. This has been a source of much speculation by Lawrence
scholars and popular writers.
Lawrence was a serious explorer and scholar on the Arab world, and is
portrayed more poetically in the movie than he might have been. See his less
known book, Oriental Travels, for example. He was fluent in several dialects
of Arabic -- quite a feat.
Lawrence (de Bivort!)
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Feb 07 2002 - 19:47:02 GMT