GEORGE ANTONIUS THE ARAB AWAKENING PDF

The world first learned the history of Arab nationalism from a book published in The Arab Awakening by George Antonius eventually became the preferred textbook for successive generations of British and American historians and their students. Yet few now would deny that The Arab Awakening, for all the appeal of its narrative style, is more suggestive of a sustained argument than a history. On the other hand, writing a book is an excellent means of establishing a reputation for yourself. It helps you to reach into certain groups which you need to get into intimate contact with, and it gives you authority. In this limited sense, therefore, writing is a useful adjunct to your activities.

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George was a Lebanese-Egyptian historian trained at Cambridge University and recognized as the first Arab scholar to write about modern Arab history. He begins by drawing the distinction between Arab and Muslim which is an important theme throughout the book. He identifies Arabs as a race that occupies the geography in the Middle East and Africa and Islam as the religion that goes beyond.

This is an important distinction because the Ottoman Empire represented itself as a Muslim caliphate. The premise of the book was that there was a desire by the Arab people to extricate the Arab population under the Ottoman empire to form either a single caliphate under Arab rule or a confederation of Arab states. As the book progressed the Middle East seemed to form into independent States based upon former Ottoman administrative districts known as Viyalets or by the colonial aspirations of France and England.

The book goes into much depth to the activities during WWI of the British who from the Arab perspective betrayed the Arabs by not carrying through with their commitments under the McMahon correspondence or the British Declaration of Seven as demonstrated by the Sikes-Picot or later when Russia entered the Tri-Partate agreement interestingly enough, the author does not refer to the added Russian participation under that name, it must be modern nomenclature , The Balfour Declaration and subsequently the San Remo accords and the British Mandate.

Having read much on the subject before this book, especially, "The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab Israeli Conflict" I find the Arab perspective to be different from my previous readings. First, there is a school that attempts to show even in the McMahon correspondence that Palestine was carved out of the agreement. And second, that Husain and the Arabs never executed their part of the agreement for although there was an Arab uprising in Hejaz against the Ottomans, there was never an uprising throughout the Arab territories which the British were expecting.

It is obvious to me that these perspectives are the very core of a conflict that continues to this day. But of course, that is the nature of conflict; divergent perspectives.

That is why I am a big believer that to resolve the conflict that exists between the Israelis and the Palestinians today, we need to present our perspective to the other side and have it recognized; however, we must deal with the facts on the ground today to resolve the conflict.

However, it was his perspective on Palestine that seemed to diverge from all the other narratives. For all other countries, Mr. Antonius was willing to accept the fait acompli that happened even though he took it to be a betrayal; however, for the British Mandate over Palestine, he could not accept the facts on the ground at that point. I do not believe this to be a case of treating the Jewish issue differently. The author demonstrated a sophisticated understanding and sensitivity of Zionism and the plight of Jews in Europe.

I believe it is because he first had a residence in Jerusalem and saw the impact of the conflict and second because of WWII, and the events that led to the formation of Israel and Transjordan had yet to be played out.

And unfortunately, he did not live to see these events and provide us his perspective. The one thought that continued to go through my mind as I read the book was the premise of an Arab National Movement. It was clear that Sharif Husain had a desire to break from the Ottomans. It was also clear that there were movements in places such as Damascus to do the same, but I saw no evidence presented of a cohesive Arab National Movement.

In several parts of the book, Mr. Antonius demonstrates this point by highlighting the issues of trying to get different tribes and clans to join a cause, a revolt or to support a national movement.

Also, he highlighted the fact that except for those living in cities, many Arab clans and tribes were nomadic, not beholden to national borders. I believe the concept of a nation-state was a western concept imposed by Mr. Antonius on the Middle East through his education and as a course of entering the modern world. It is clear for someone today to get a better understanding of all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that "The Arab Awakening" is a must-read. It is a clear, well-written history of the events of the devolution of the Ottoman Empire that led to the rise of the modern Arab states while documenting the very facts that are in dispute today over the conflict.

Reading and understanding the other side of a conflict only allows you to understand what it will take to one day resolve the conflict.

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The Arab Awakening

George was a Lebanese-Egyptian historian trained at Cambridge University and recognized as the first Arab scholar to write about modern Arab history. He begins by drawing the distinction between Arab and Muslim which is an important theme throughout the book. He identifies Arabs as a race that occupies the geography in the Middle East and Africa and Islam as the religion that goes beyond. This is an important distinction because the Ottoman Empire represented itself as a Muslim caliphate. The premise of the book was that there was a desire by the Arab people to extricate the Arab population under the Ottoman empire to form either a single caliphate under Arab rule or a confederation of Arab states. As the book progressed the Middle East seemed to form into independent States based upon former Ottoman administrative districts known as Viyalets or by the colonial aspirations of France and England.

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It is viewed as the foundational textbook of the history of modern Arab nationalism. According to Martin Kramer , The Arab Awakening "became the preferred textbook for successive generations of British and American historians and their students". He argued that the Arab nation which consists of racial and cultural-linguistic elements was "dormant" for centuries, and that institutions established by Protestant missionaries and educators from the United States had a specific role in the renewal and "awakening" of Arabic as a national language. He saw the role of the American University of Beirut originally the Syrian Protestant College as central to this development, although he noted that by the end of the 19th century that role had diminished because the college initiated instruction in English. According to Antonius, American missionaries, educators and institutions played a critical role in the development of American soft power during the Edwardian era and after World War I. By the end of the 19th century, the torch of Arab nationalism had been passed to Arab intellectuals residing in Greater Syria and in Europe and to Arab officers in the Ottoman Army that formed a secret society to ultimately promote Arab nationalist interests.

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Arab Awakening

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