(These brief notes are meant to provide only the most basic relevant information for those reading this book.)
AARONSOHN, AARON 1876–1919
He gained fame as the foremost agronomist in Palestine before World War I, but is best known for putting his knowledge of the land to use for Britain during the war and for his Zionist activities. He perished in an airplane crash.
ABDULLAH IBN HUSSEIN 1882–1951
Second son of Sharif Hussein, a member of the prewar Ottoman parliament, he helped to instigate and then took a leading role in the Arab Revolt. After the war he became emir of Transjordan, and when the British mandate ended in 1946, he became king of Transjordan and then in 1949 king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He died by assassination.
ALI IBN HUSSEIN 1879–1935
First son of Sharif Hussein, he did not play a leading role in the Arab Revolt but nevertheless succeeded his father as king of the Hejaz in 1924, when the Wahhabi rebellion occurred. He abdicated one year later and spent the rest of his life in Baghdad in Iraq, where his brother Feisal ruled as king.
ALLENBY, SIR EDMUND 1861–1936
Promoted to general for his services on the Western Front, he took command of the British-led Egyptian Expeditionary Force in June 1917. His forces captured Gaza in October, Jerusalem in December, and Damascus in October 1918. He served as high commissioner for Egypt from 1919 to 1925.
ASQUITH, HERBERT HENRY
(FIRST EARL OF OXFORD AND ASQUITH) 1852–1928
The Liberal politician who served as prime minister from 1908 to 1916, he led Britain into the war and in May 1915 formed a coalition government with the Conservatives. Lloyd George replaced him as prime minister in December 1916.
AUDA ABU TAYI 1885–1924
The leader of a section of the Howeitat tribe of Bedouin Arabs, he threw his support behind the Arab Revolt and with Lawrence engineered the capture of Aqaba. Lawrence called him “the greatest fighting man in northern Arabia.”
BALFOUR, ARTHUR JAMES (FIRST EARL OF BALFOUR) 1848–1930
The Conservative prime minister from 1902 to 1905, he served on Asquith’s war council from the outbreak of hostilities until formation of the coalition government, upon which Asquith appointed him first lord of the Admiralty. When Lloyd George formed the second coalition government, he appointed Balfour to be his foreign secretary. After the war Balfour served in the Lloyd George government as lord president of the council.
CAILLARD, SIR VINCENT 1856–1930
A businessman with wide interests and direct experience of Turkey and the Ottoman Middle East, he served as financial director of Vickers armaments manufacturers from 1906 until after the war. In the attempt to arrange a separate peace with the Ottomans, he played the role of intermediary between Basil Zaharoff and David Lloyd George.
CECIL, ROBERT (FIRST VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD) 1864–1958
Son of Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, cousin of Arthur Balfour, and himself a Conservative member of Parliament (although a free trader), he joined Asquith’s coalition government in 1915 as parliamentary under secretary of state for foreign affairs, a post he held for four years. After the war he devoted himself to work for the League of Nations and international peace.
CHEETHAM, SIR MILNE 1869–1938
A career diplomat, after numerous postings he arrived in Cairo as first secretary to the British high commissioner. During the interval between Kitchener’s departure in June 1914 and McMahon’s arrival in January 1915, he served as acting high commissioner and helped compose an early letter to Grand Sharif Hussein.
CLAYTON, SIR GILBERT 1875–1929
Before the war he served Sir Reginald Wingate, governor general of Sudan, as director of intelligence in Sudan and agent in Cairo. With the outbreak of war he became director of military intelligence at British headquarters in Cairo, head of the Arab Bureau, and eventually chief political officer of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and military governor of Palestine. After the war he continued to play an active role in Middle Eastern affairs, but his career was cut short by a fatal heart attack.
(FIRST MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON) 1859–1925
A Conservative politician who had served as viceroy of India from 1898 to 1905, he joined Asquith’s coalition government as lord privy seal in 1915. Lloyd George tapped him for his own coalition government a year and a half later, and for membership of the select War Cabinet, in which he served as lord president of the council. After the war Curzon replaced Balfour as foreign secretary and served until the Labour victory in the general election of 1923.
DJEMAL PASHA 1872–1922
An Ottoman military officer and early supporter of the CUP, he and Enver and Talaat effectively ruled the empire from 1913 until the end of the war. During 1915 and again in 1916 he led the Ottoman Fourth Army in unsuccessful attacks against British forces at Suez. Throughout the war he exercised dictatorial powers in Syria, earning widespread hatred. Afterward he fled to Germany, then to Switzerland, and finally to Central Asia. He was assassinated by an Armenian revolutionary.
ENVER PASHA 1881–1922
An Ottoman military officer and early supporter of the CUP, he was the architect of the triumvirate of three pashas who ruled the empire during 1913–18 and of the government’s pro-German policy. During the war he occupied the position of war minister, although he was generally an unsuccessful military leader. With the Ottoman defeat in 1918, he fled first to Germany and eventually to the Soviet Union. An advocate of pan-Turanianism, he died fighting the Russians in Central Asia.
FARUKI, SHARIF MUHAMMAD AL-1891–1920
A young Arab staff officer and member of the secret society al-Ahd, he crossed over to the British lines at Gallipoli, hoping to convince them to support Sharif Hussein’s revolt and the Arabian kingdom adumbrated in the Damascus Protocol. He did so, although he did not formally represent al-Ahd. Later he became Sharif Hussein’s agent in Cairo.
FEISAL IBN HUSSEIN 1885–1933
Third son of Sharif Hussein, leader and architect of the Arab Revolt, he became king of Syria for about four months in 1920, until the French kicked him out. The British made him king of Iraq in 1921, but they held a mandate to rule from the League of Nations so that Feisal’s kingship was qualified. The British granted Iraq nominal independence in 1932.
FITZMAURICE, SIR GERALD 1865–1939
Senior dragoman, or Turkish-speaking consular officer, at the British embassy from 1907 to 1914, an inveterate intriguer with reactionary views, he hated the CUP government and longed unavailingly for restoration of the sultan. During the war he served in naval intelligence, mainly in London.
GASTER, MOSES 1856–1939
The chief rabbi, or haham, of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in England, Gaster was a renowned scholar and linguist who played a leading role among British Zionists, but he was an abrasive personality. Eventually Chaim Weizmann elbowed him aside.
GRAHAM, SIR RONALD 1870–1949
A career diplomat, at the beginning of the war he accepted the post of chief staff officer to Sir John Maxwell, the general officer commanding troops in Egypt. He returned to London in 1916 to become assistant under secretary of state at the Foreign Office.
GREENBERG, LEOPOLD 1861–1931
An early recruit to Zionism, a prominent figure among British Zionists during the prewar era, Greenberg was the principal shareholder and editor of the London Jewish Chronicle. During the war he indirectly introduced Weizmann to Sir Mark Sykes.
GREY, SIR EDWARD (FIRST VISCOUNT GREY OF FALLADON) 1862–1933
A Liberal politician who served as Asquith’s foreign secretary, he opposed adding territory to the British Empire. Failing eyesight drove him from his post when Asquith’s coalition government fell in December 1916.
HA’AM, AHAD 1856–1927
Asher Ginzberg’s pen name means “One of the People” in Hebrew. A leading prewar Zionist essayist and thinker, he was famous for warning that Jews and Arabs in Palestine must learn to cooperate, and for emphasizing the spiritual but not the religious aspect of Judaism. Insofar as Weizmann acknowledged any mentor, Ahad Ha’am was it.
(FIRST BARON HARDINGE OF PENSHURST) 1858–1944
A career diplomat and prewar viceroy of India, Hardinge favored aggressive military action in Mesopotamia once war began. This led to disaster at Ctesiphon in November 1915 and at Kut-al-Amara in April 1916. He returned to London shortly thereafter, where he served as permanent under secretary of the Foreign Office.
HERBERT, AUBREY 1880–1923
“The man who was Greenmantle,” he knew well the Ottoman Empire and its CUP leaders. Despite being nearly blind, he joined the army upon the outbreak of war and was wounded and captured during the retreat from Mons. After his rescue and subsequent recovery, he accepted a posting to Egypt as an intelligence officer, where he came to favor the Arab Revolt. But always he hoped for peace between Britain and the Ottomans, and in 1917 he tried to arrange it.
HOGARTH, DAVID 1862–1927
A renowned archaeologist who served as keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, during the early stages of the war he shuttled back and forth between London and the Middle East for the department of naval intelligence. From March 1916 Cairo was his permanent base, where he served as unofficial leader of the Arab Bureau. After the war he returned to Oxford.
HUSSEIN IBN ALI 1853–1931
Appointed emir or grand sharif of Mecca by Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1908, he led the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans beginning in June 1916. Despite his ambition to rule an Arab empire, the Allies recognized him only as king of the Hejaz. This position he abdicated in favor of his son Ali in 1924. A year later they both fled the Wahhabi warriors of Abdul Azziz ibn Saud. He spent the rest of his life in exile.
KITCHENER, FIELD MARSHAL HORATIO (FIRST EARL KITCHENER) 1850–1916
A British soldier statesman, Kitchener served as Asquith’s secretary of state for war starting in August 1914. He was the one who initiated wartime contact with Emir Hussein, dangling the possibility of the caliphate before him if he would side with the Allies in the war against the Central Powers. In early June 1916, while en route to Russia, he died when his ship struck a mine.
LAWRENCE, THOMAS EDWARD 1888–1935
Attached to the military intelligence department of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1914, Lawrence eventually made contact with Feisal and soon proved to be a malevolent genius at guerrilla warfare. He left the Middle East thinking that Britain had betrayed the Arab struggle for independence.
LLOYD, GEORGE (FIRST BARON LLOYD) 1879–1941
He traveled the Middle East before the war, overlapping in Constantinople with Aubrey Herbert and Mark Sykes in 1905. In the House of Commons, to which he was elected in 1910, he specialized in imperial matters. Upon the outbreak of war he joined the military intelligence department of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and wound up working for the Arab Bureau. After the war he would serve as high commissioner in Egypt.
LLOYD GEORGE, DAVID (FIRST EARL OF DWYFOR) 1863–1945
The great Liberal statesman who replaced Asquith as prime minister in December 1916, he was an “easterner” who sought a way around the Western Front and an entrance into Germany and Austria-Hungary through the Ottoman Empire.
MALCOLM, JAMES 1865–1952
An Armenian in London who represented his country’s interests to the British government, he introduced Weizmann to Mark Sykes and continued during the war years to play a role as intermediary between Zionists and British officials.
MCMAHON, SIR HENRY 1862–1949
A British political officer in India, he replaced Kitchener as high commissioner of Egypt. He carried on the delicate and much-debated correspondence with Emir Hussein that led to the Arab Revolt. At the end of 1916 London replaced him in Cairo with Sir Reginald Wingate.
MILNER, ALFRED (FIRST VISCOUNT MILNER) 1854–1925
A leading British imperialist, he joined the War Cabinet of Lloyd George. He supported the Zionists but also supported a separate peace with the Ottoman Empire that might have left the Turkish flag flying over Jerusalem.
MONTAGU, EDWIN 1879–1924
A Jewish anti-Zionist and Liberal politician with close ties to Asquith, he earned the latter’s enmity by joining the Lloyd George coalition government. He led the opposition in the cabinet to the Balfour Declaration, but just before the cabinet came to a final decision, he had to leave to take up a new post as secretary of state for India.
MONTEFIORE, CLAUDE 1858–1938
President of the Anglo-Jewish Association from 1896 to 1921 and an advocate of liberal (denationalized and deritualized) Judaism, he and Lucien Wolf fought hard against the Zionists and to maintain the long-standing connection between the British Foreign Office and advocates of Jewish assimilation.
MORGENTHAU, HENRY 1856–1946
The American ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916, he developed ties to the Ottoman leaders. Early in 1917 he convinced President Wilson to send him to Palestine, where he could speak with responsible Ottomans about a separate peace between Turkey and the Allies. Weizmann headed him off at Gibraltar and convinced him to drop the plan.
MURRAY, GENERAL SIR ARCHIBALD 1860–1945
He took up command of British forces in Egypt in January 1916, defeated an Ottoman attack upon the Suez Canal in August, and advanced into and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. But he twice failed to take Gaza, and the government replaced him in June 1917 with General Allenby.
ORMSBY-GORE, WILLIAM (FOURTH BARON HARLECH) 1885–1964
A Conservative politician, in 1916 he joined the Arab Bureau in Cairo, where Aaron Aaronsohn converted him to Zionism. Recalled to London in 1917, he served as Milner’s parliamentary private secretary and later as an assistant secretary to the cabinet, working with Mark Sykes. He knew Weizmann well. After the war he remained active in Conservative politics, eventually rising to colonial secretary in 1936.
PICKTHALL, MARMADUKE 1875–1936
An author of popular novels, many with Middle Eastern themes, he traveled and lived in the Middle East before the war and loved it. He opposed the British declaration of war against the Ottomans in 1914 and never relinquished hope of bringing the two countries into peaceful relations. In 1917 he converted to Islam. Later he wrote the first English translation of the Quran.
PICOT, FRANÇOIS GEORGES- 1870–1951
A French diplomat who, with Mark Sykes, redrew the map of the Middle East early in 1916, carving up the Ottoman Empire and basically allocating Syria, including Lebanon, to France and Mesopotamia to Great Britain. When they learned about this agreement, neither the Zionists nor the Arabs were pleased.
ROBERTSON, FIELD MARSHAL SIR WILLIAM 1860–1933
He served during most of the war as chief of the Imperial General Staff. A confirmed “westerner” who thought victory depended upon smashing through the German lines, he opposed those, including Prime Minister Lloyd George, who wanted to strengthen Britain’s campaign in the East.
ROTHSCHILD, EDMOND DE 1845–1934
A member of the French branch of the famous banking family, he believed in Zionism and supported Chaim Weizmann.
ROTHSCHILD, WALTER (SECOND BARON ROTHSCHILD) 1868–1937
The oldest son of Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild, Walter inherited the position of unofficial leader of the British Jewish community upon his father’s death. Although most interested, probably, in zoology, Walter Rothschild lent his support to Zionism after falling under Weizmann’s spell. Balfour addressed the famous letter promising British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine to him.
RUMBOLD, SIR HORACE (NINTH BARONET) 1869–1941
A career diplomat, Rumbold served his country from 1916 to 1919 as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the Swiss Republic. There he kept tabs on agents of foreign powers and ran his own network of agents, including the inestimable Humbert Parodi. He had knowledge of most but not all British attempts to lure Turks into discussions of peace.
SACHER, HARRY 1881–1971
A journalist and Zionist based in Manchester, Sacher provided his friend Chaim Weizmann with the invaluable introduction to his editor at The Manchester Guardian, C. P. Scott. He helped to found the iconoclastic British Palestine Committee, which Weizmann sometimes considered to be a thorn in his side. Nevertheless he played a key role in helping Zionists frame the document that later became the Balfour Declaration.
SAMUEL, HERBERT (FIRST VISCOUNT SAMUEL) 1870–1963
A Liberal politician who rose to become president of the Board of Trade and then home secretary in Asquith’s cabinet, he came from the “Cousinhood” of wealthy assimilated Jewish Britons, yet secretly nurtured Zionist beliefs. These he revealed to Asquith’s cabinet and to Weizmann early in the war; later he helped bring Weizmann into contact with other important British officials. After the war he served for five years as Britain’s first high commissioner in Palestine.
SCOTT, C. P. 1846–1932
He was the proprietor and editor of Britain’s greatest Liberal and radical newspaper, The Manchester Guardian. Deeply impressed by Chaim Weizmann, whom he met in November 1914, he introduced the Zionist leader to David Lloyd George and other important Britons.
SOKOLOW, NAHUM 1861–1936
A leading official and representative of the World Zionist Organization, the Polish-born Sokolow spent the war years in London, where he was Weizmann’s chief collaborator. At the suggestion of Mark Sykes, with whom he also worked closely, Sokolow traveled to France and Italy during the spring of 1917 and gained support from the governments of those countries for Zionist objectives. He was intimately involved from the Zionist side in the discussions that produced the Balfour Declaration.
STORRS, SIR RONALD 1881–1955
At the outbreak of the war he was serving in Cairo as the British high commissioner’s oriental secretary. He already knew Sharif Abdullah and was involved in the drafting of the McMahon-Hussein correspondence. Later he joined the Arab Bureau and served as assistant political officer to the Anglo-French mission of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and as military governor of Jerusalem.
SYKES, SIR MARK (SIXTH BARONET) 1879–1919
Having traveled and written about the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East before the war, he was assigned to the de Bunsen Committee by Kitchener and then sent by him to survey the Middle Eastern scene in person. Sykes negotiated the Sykes-Picot and Tripartite Agreements, dividing up the Ottoman Empire. He converted to Zionism and played a crucial role in promoting its leaders. He envisioned a remade Middle East based upon the autonomy of the small nationalities, most particularly Jews, Arabs, and Armenians.
TALAAT PASHA 1874–1921
A military officer, an early supporter of the CUP, the third member of the triumvirate that ruled the Ottoman Empire during World War I, he became grand vizier (prime minister) in 1917. He kept the door open for talks with Britain about a separate peace and, without informing Enver or Djemal, made more than one overture to the British during 1916–17. He died in Berlin at the hands of an assassin.
WEIZMANN, CHAIM 1874–1952
During the war he became the leading Zionist in Britain and played the crucial role from the Zionist side in fashioning the Zionist-British alliance and the Balfour Declaration.
WILSON, CYRIL 1873–1938
He headed the British mission at Jeddah as “pilgrimage officer” but really supervised the landing of supplies there. More important, he served as British liaison with King Hussein.
WINGATE, SIR FRANCIS REGINALD (FIRST BARONET) 1861–1953
An army officer and colonial governor, during the war he served first as sirdar of the Egyptian army and governor general of Sudan. He favored British support of the Arab Revolt and at the end of 1916 replaced McMahon as high commissioner for Egypt.
WOLF, LUCIEN 1857–1930
A journalist and expert commentator on British foreign affairs, he came to dominate the Conjoint Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association and Board of Deputies of British Jews. One aim of these bodies, and of Wolf, was to persuade British policy makers to defend and to support Jewish interests outside Great Britain. He believed in Jewish assimilation and took a leading role among Jews in Britain who opposed Zionism.
ZAHAROFF, SIR BASIL 1849–1936
Of humble origin, Zaharoff attained great wealth as an arms dealer and rose to membership on the board of directors of the Vickers armaments manufacturer. He played a key role in engineering Greek entry into World War I on the side of the Allies and served as David Lloyd George’s emissary to the Ottomans in search of a separate peace.