In 1921 Winston Churchill became Colonial Secretary and was charged with two primary responsibilities: bring peace to the Middle East—and to Ireland. As will be shown in this issue of Finest Hour and the next, he largely succeeded at reducing tensions in both regions, at least until the Second World War.
Churchill’s primary period of involvement with the Middle East was 100 years ago during his twenty months as Colonial Secretary, when he was still a member of the Liberal party and one of the most important Cabinet officers in the coalition government of Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Establishing a settlement for the region was one of the many residual responsibilities that accrued to Britain as a result of the First World War. The details are explained in our lead article, as well as by Churchill himself in extracts included here from a speech he made to Parliament in 1921.
Churchill’s understanding of the Middle East began long before the Great War, when his father’s one-time friend Wilfrid Blunt befriended the younger Churchill as well. Warren Dockter explains the significance of this little-known influence. A better-known adviser to Churchill was Gertrude Bell, yet surprisingly little is known by people today about this remarkable trailblazer. We try to correct this with a pair of articles. The first gives a sense of her character, and in the second Mark P. C. Jackson describes how Bell worked directly with Churchill at the seminal Cairo conference.
Churchill’s commitment to Zionism has been the subject of many studies. Here, Fred Glueckstein looks at the details of Churchill’s only official visit to the Holy Land, while Sara Reguer makes a detailed examination of the resulting White Paper produced in Churchill’s name.
Much has been written about T. E. Lawrence, whose relationship with Churchill was the theme of Finest Hour 119, published in 2003. We also looked at Churchill’s involvement in setting up Lawrence’s candidate, the Emir Feisal, on the throne of Iraq in 2006 (see FH 132). We cannot, however, overlook these two eminent figures in this issue or Feisal’s brother Abdullah, who is also profiled.
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