But for Freya Stark, and through her the British Embassy in Baghdad, Antonius tried to put an entirely different face on events. He supposedly wrote an account of the Baghdad events, but it does not survive. Antonius felt the first effects of a duodenal ulcer in Baghdad, and he returned to Beirut a sick man, a few weeks before the British campaign which purged Iraq of his associates.
Things did not go well in Beirut:. Shortly after, my persecution by the Vichy French and the Italian Commission began. At first they wanted to expel me, and later to put me in a concentration camp. It was only my illness in hospital and the intervention of the American Consul General Engert that saved me from the worst effects of that persecution. A short time later, Antonius returned to Jerusalem, thwarted and ill.
He had failed in his pursuit of a kind of influence for which The Arab Awakening did not constitute a credential.
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He added that he would appreciate it if we would recommend to him any promising young American with an inclination to Near East Studies who might come to our notice. Over a year later, their patience ran out. Antonius and wish to deal fairly with him, yet they have responsibilities that cannot be disregarded, especially in such conditions as now prevail. After all, he is not an American and he is in one of the most highly charged areas of the world. So in view of his failure to keep in close touch with the office and be frank about his conditions and affairs, they have deemed it inadvisable to continue to finance him.
It is not easy at my age and in the midst of a world war to embark on yet another career.
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But now he was without any employment at all, and had reached an impasse. As it happened, a complication of his illness claimed Antonius before idleness or debts, in May Of the later career of George Antonius, it can only be said that it showed more the effects of his ambition than his patriotism. He never doubted that he was too large for the clearly subordinate role suggested to him by Arab nationalist leaders, who would have kept him as a propagandist in London.
To sit, pen in hand, even in the cause of an Arab Palestine, was a form of exile, which ended in a blind pursuit of political influence. First of all I shall apply to Zabinas and if that dolt does not appreciate me, I will go to his opponent, to Grypos. And if that idiot too does not engage me, I will go directly to Hyrcanos.
British Diplomatic Oral History Programme
Hamilton, , John O. Derek Hopwood New York: St. Memorandum of conversation by L.
He thought that they had made some useful contacts with M. Antonius Jerusalem to John O. Memorandum of conversation with Rogers by J. Rogers New York to M. I believe Mr. Rogers wrote in a way which very much disturbed George and he resigned from the Institute—as he said—because he could not send the reports to the Institute. In fact, Antonius stopped filing regular reports before his move to Beirut and the fall of France, and his services were terminated against his protest. Arab nationalism , George Antonius , Palestinians.
Review published in Middle East Quarterly, Spring In , he published The Arab Awakening , a book that sought to shatter conventional wisdom about the commitments Britain made to the Arabs in World War I. For twenty years, Britain had maintained that Palestine was excluded from the promises of Arab independence made by Britain during the war.
Antonius brought documents to light—including British correspondence with the leaders of the Arab Revolt—which he presented as evidence that Palestine had in fact been promised to the Arabs. The Arab Awakening provided the ostensibly moral basis for the British abandonment of the Jewish National Home policy. Antonius was a prototype of Edward Said, a man endowed with powerful rhetorical tools and an acute understanding of the British imperial conscience and its vulnerabilities.
Like Said, he could both charm and persuade intellectuals, although he had less luck with government officials. And like Said, he served briefly as an advisor to the Palestinian leadership, in his case, at the St. The reader of The Arab Awakening is bound to wonder what unusual convergence of circumstances produced its author.
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Did you know that young Antonius was probably the subject of one of C. That he informally advised a British high commissioner? That he met President Franklin Roosevelt in ? The works of his critics are not even mentioned in the bibliography. Antonius was an erudite, articulate, and charming man, whose life makes an interesting read. But he was a reckless historian, and nothing in this book proves otherwise. George Antonius. The review appeared in Middle Eastern Studies, July , pp. It might also be suggested that Antonius would have been astonished to find the occasion devoted to his memory.
He would not have been alone. The first group of essays comprises three of the first four lectures. These were essentially statements of work in progress, and anticipated books which have since appeared. The title of the lecture is identical to the title of a chapter in that book. Nevertheless, the inclusion of superseded pieces does bear witness to the early role of the Antonius Lectures as a forum for preliminary statements. At this point, a transformation of the series occurred. On three consecutive occasions, anticipation yielded to retrospection.
In Thomas Hodgkin told the story of his youthful friendship with Antonius, and recalled the colonial ambience of Palestine in the s. In Magdi Wahba brilliantly evoked the Cairo of his youth, and especially the many foreign communities that disappeared long ago under the tide of revolution and nationalism. The series then reverted from chat to scholarship.
A fact which the contemporary western sensibility finds it difficult to accept is that these more ecumenical post-imperialists simply do not understand the Egyptian mind—or indeed, the non-western conscience in general—at all well, compared to their Edwardian pro-consular predecessors, even when those were disposed to be unfriendly. It is yet another case of the bleeding heart not being of particular help as an aid to clear observation and understanding, which are so often replaced today by the limp handshake of uncomprehending sympathy.
At which point, many a limp hand must have trembled. The next year Tarif Khalidi offered a brief excursion into the pious Islamic geography of Palestine. In the last of the lectures included here, Norman Daniels decided to avoid decision in the long-running Orientalism debate. Taken as a whole, the volume may be described either as wide-ranging or uneven. So it is with any lecture series. Although the piece made no explicit argument on behalf of the lecture series, it must be read as a justification for the perpetual commemoration of Antonius in such a place, in such a manner.
He is of a fine old Greek family but says he cannot remember the time when he did not speak Arabic or French. His English is quite the best Oxfordian…. But an Oxonian? Antonius held no doctorate from Oxford or the Sorbonne.
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He never attended either university. But then there is ample testimony that by his very manner Antonius seemed to be other than he was. If he possessed the manner, then why not the diploma? Gibb, newly elected to the Laudian Chair of Arabic at Oxford when the book appeared, praised it highly in a published review. The institution of the Antonius Lectures at Oxford almost 40 years later completes the illusion. A more consequential illusion concerns The Arab Awakening itself.
Are the claims made for the book by Hourani tenable? Upon close examination, these are modest enough. Otherwise, Hourani concedes, it has been largely superseded and, on the question of the origins of Arab nationalism, persuasively contradicted by subsequent research. One cannot read this assessment without concluding that the posthumous honor conferred upon Antonius must rest upon more than his book.
To judge from the tributes, it would seem to stand partly upon the power of his personality. His own chat could hold the attention of a Wauchope or a Roosevelt. It should be added that his charm sometimes wore thin, and that he could be prideful to the point of offense. He was the sort of man who could launch a crusade against a poor policeman who had the audacity to issue him a traffic summons.
Ultimately, even the trustees of the American foundation that funded his writing of The Arab Awakening felt so abused that they fired him. One of them also wished to remain anonymous. Antonius never expected to be judged by his book.