TITLE: Lawrence and Aaronsohn: T.E. Lawrence, Aaronsohn and the Seeds of the Arab-Israel Conflict
SPEAKER: Ronald Florence
EVENT DATE: 12/03/2007
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 40 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
The Arab-Israeli conflict is often said to be biblical in its origins, with the children of Abraham contesting an ancient and eternal rivalry. But it can be argued that much of the conflict emerged less than a century ago in the turmoil of World War I. Historian and novelist Ronald Florence puts forth this argument in his new book, "Lawrence and Aaronsohn: T. E. Lawrence, Aaronsohn, and the Seeds of the Arab-Israel Conflict."
Florence discussed his book in a program sponsored jointly by the Hebraic Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division and the Hebrew Language Table.
In "Lawrence and Aaronsohn," Florence shows how the Great Powers secretly plotted the future of the Middle East while a second lieutenant from Oxfordshire (Lawrence) and a Jewish agronomist from Palestine (Aaronsohn) imagined new nations--Arab and Jewish--rising from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence, who would later become the iconic Lawrence of Arabia, garnered Arab support for British war strategies to advance the dreams of an Arab state. Aaron Aaronsohn gave up a distinguished career in science to establish a secret spy network in wartime Palestine, providing the intelligence that enabled the British victory over the Turks. In this gripping narrative history, Florence resurrects the exploits and sacrifices of an unsung Zionist hero, deconstructs the legend of Lawrence of Arabia and provides new perspectives on the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Speaker Biography: Ronald Florence is the author of eight books, including "The Gypsy Man," "The Perfect Machine" and "Blood Libel." Educated at the University of California at Berkeley and at Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in European history, Florence has traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East to research his books. He has taught at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College and the State University of New York at Purchase.