George Antonius, the Arab Nationalist as British Imperialist
Antonius' reputation has benefitted from a long series of lies, not all of them of his own making, some originating from his admirers and the politically interested promoters of Arab nationalism, both Arabs and non-Arabs. However, most critical researchers have avoided confronting one of the big lies in the mythology surrounding Antonius. That is, that he was somehow a Third World revolutionary, an anti-imperialist, and all those other Good Things, an Edward Sa`id avant la lettre. Few things could be further from the truth, except that Sa`id was most likely a faker too in a way not much different from the Antonius form of fakery.
Antonius was an enthusiastic, sincere and unashamed British imperialist. He didn't hide it. Let's look at the evidence. He was awarded the respected British imperial honorific, the CBE, by the King in the 1920s. CBE stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Is that enough? Well, let's go on. One of his friends, Thomas Hodgkin, who worked in the British administration of the Land of Israel under the Mandate in the 1930s, wrote that Antonius was disappointed in the CBE. Not because he was an anti-imperialist, but because he had hoped for a more prestigious decoration: the CMG, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Next, he was born in Dayr al-Qamar in southern Lebanon to a Greek Orthodox family and brought to Egypt by his family as a child. British rule had made Egypt a place with more public order than heretofore and therefore, a place where energetic people could prosper by developing cotton raising, commerce, and industry. In other words, George's father was a settler, a colonist in a country under British occupation. Moreover, he chose a British education for his child, sending him to Victoria College [which ran up to high school] in Alexandria. Victoria College seems to have been named after Queen Victoria, an imperialist if there ever was one. Upon graduation, George went on to Cambridge where he is said to have done well. Coming back from Cambridge after World War One, he obtained a position as the deputy chief censor for the British administration running the Egyptian postal service. Now, does this register? Here Antonius was the deputy chief censor for the British imperial rulers in Alexandria. Does this position qualify George as an imperialist? Nor, incidentally, was he a "Palestinian" Arab, despite the moronic and deceitful mystique makers [Kimmerling & Migdal, for instance].
In 1920, he took a trip to the UK to raise funds for his alma mater, Victoria College. Yet Victoria College was a colonial institution, n'est-ce pas? In the early 1920s he came to Israel, then under British mandatory rule, to take up a position as a high level civil servant in the British administration. In fact, he considered himself more British than Arab, and even after writing his famous fable about Arab nationalism, The Arab Awakening , he continued to associate closely with British officials and to feel tremendous admiration for Britain and the Empire.
Sir Gilbert Clayton [Brigadier Clayton] and George Antonius (in white suit) with King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (center), Jedda circa 1925. Ibn Sa`ud had conquered the Hijaz [western Arabia] from the Hashemite family in 1925 with the consent of his own British agent, H St John Philby [father of Kim]. The Sa`ud clan had ruled the Najd [or Nejd = central Arabia] prior to that. In 1925, the House of Sa`ud set up what came to be called in 1927 The Kingdom of Hijaz and Najd. The kingdom did not take on the name Saudi Arabia until 1932.
In the 1920s, he took time out from his service in the administration to go off on diplomatic missions with British officials, such as Brigadier Clayton [Sir Gilbert Clayton], who needed his help in negotiating with Arab potentates. It was 1930 when Antonius left the British mandatory administration in Israel and went to work for the New York-based Institute for Current World Affairs, probably at higher pay. This Institute was the creature of a super-rich American, Charles R Crane, who may have been the model for the Daddy Warbucks character in the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Crane had been an American diplomat in China and was sent to the Middle East by President Wilson after WW One as part of the King-Crane Commission. No less interesting for Emet m'Tsiyon is that Crane was a fanatical Judeophobe, perhaps much like Henry Ford, another multi-millionaire Judeophobe much admired by Hitler. Crane met Hitler and was favorably impressed. Through his employee George Antonius, Crane met Haj Amin el-Husseini [al-Husayni], the British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, he too an admirer of Hitler. Antonius dedicated his book, The Arab Awakening, to Crane, whom he nicknamed "Harun al-Rashid." The dedication explicitly says "affectionately."
Crane gave funds to the Mufti in order to support the so-called Arab Revolt in Israel in the mid-1930s, which Horace Samuel described as a "Revolt by Leave," in the title of his book on the subject. Crane hoped to unite the Muslims and the Catholics against the Jews. This was Antonius' employer to whom Antonius dedicated his book, "affectionately." Horace Samuel called his own book, Revolt by Leave, since he showed how the British administration in Israel worked for the success of the "revolt."
During the Holocaust, Husseini, so admired by Antonius and Crane, lived in Berlin under Nazi protection and urged the Germans to kill more Jews faster. In Jerusalem, before separating from his wife, Katy, Antonius lived in a home rented from Husseini and called Karm al-Mufti [the mufti's vineyard]. This house was the locus of the joint social life of Arab notables and intellectuals and high British officials in Jerusalem. This was Katy Antonius' famous salon, where few Jews were invited. Antonius died in 1942 but his wife continued her salon. One of her guests at the salon, who seems to have stayed later than others and maybe often did not leave until the morning was General Evelyn Barker, the high commander of British-occupation forces in Israel. At any rate, some of Katy and Evelyn's romantic correspondence has been published. Apparently he heartily hated Jews.
About two hundred yards down the street from Katy's home in Jerusalem, Karm al-Mufti, was the poor Jewish neighborhood of Shim`on haTsadiq built next to the tomb of Simon the Just. Arab terrorists, called "irregulars" in those days, attacked the neighborhood in December 1947. Most Jews fled before the end of December, however, one family --then called Mizrahi, now Qedmi-- stayed for about another week and a half. They fled in the first ten days of January 1948. This neighborhood was the first residential area in Israel where the inhabitants fled and could not return after Israel's War of Independence. The area was eventually taken over by the Transjordanian Arab Legion, commanded by British General John Bagot Glubb, called Glubb Pasha. Jews were forbidden to live in Transjordan, later called Jordan. The driving out of the Jews of Shim`on haTsadiq is not mentioned by the many apologists for Antonius, who was their neighbor, geographically at least.
For reliable info in Antonius' career and politics, and critiques of The Arab Awakening, see below:
Fuad Ajami, Dream Palace of the Arabs (NY 1998)
F W Brecher, "Charles R Crane's Crusade for the Arabs..." Middle Eastern Studies, XXIV (January 1988).
Adeed Dawisha [search the Internet, do a google: "adeed dawisha" + "george antonius"]
Isaiah Friedman, book review by Friedman in Israel Affairs, 2002; book by Friedman, Palestine, A Twice Promised Land, reviewed in Israel Affairs 4, 1 (Spring 1999); same book by Friedman also reviewed as below by
Michael Fry (reviewing Friedman) in Israel Studies, 7, 1 (Spring 2000)
Elliott A Green, "The Curious Careers of Two Advocates of Arab Nationalism: A Sidelight on the History of an Idea," Crossroads (Jerusalem), no. 33 
Sylvia Haim, "The Arab Awakening... " in Die Welt des Islams n.s. II (1953)
Elie Kedourie, England and the Middle East... (Hassocks, Sussex, 1978)
________. The Chatham House Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies (London 1970).
George Kirk, "The Arab Awakening Reconsidered," Middle Eastern Affairs, XIII (1962)
Martin Kramer, "Ambition's Discontent: The Demise of George Antonius," in U Dann, The Great Powers in the Middle East. . . (New York 1988).
Martin Kramer, "Ambition, Arabism, and George Antonius." [on the Internet- click on article's name]
Liora Lukitz, "The Antonius Papers and the Arab Awakening . . ." Middle Eastern Studies, October 1994.
ADDED BIBLIOGRAPHY 3-21-2007 Link to history of "Christian Zionism" to which Antonius' patron, the pro-Nazi Charles R Crane was opposed, as recounted here.
Here are a few references to authors who knew him personally and wrote about him, usually favorably:
Vincent Sheean, A Personal History ( Boston 1969)
Freya Stark, The Arab Island (New York 1945)
________. Dust in the Lion's Paw (New York 1962)
Christopher Sykes, Crossroads to Israel (London 1957)
But our cake would not be complete without a cherry on top. In keeping with the low standards of so many fashionable, recent publications dealing with Israel and the Arabs, and in the spirit of the Arab mystique --and its late offspring, the "palestinian" Arab mystique-- that Antonius himself did so much to create, supported by Charles Crane's money, one Susan Silsby Boyle has written a fairy tale or fable for adult children in the guise of a biography of George Antonius. The book is full of lies and significant omissions, but it is entertaining, if you know what the lies are. It is the kind of book that you can take to bed for a laugh, or, if you take it at face value, it is rather like a three-hankie tearjerker movie, starring Rosalind Russell perhaps. So, in the spirit of keep 'em laughing and don't trip over the low level of academic research embodied by the book, here is the title:
Susan Silsby Boyle, Betrayal of Palestine: The Story of George Antonius (Boulder 2001)
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Coming: Jews in Jerusalem, etc.