Friday, May 28, 2021

The Creation of Today's Middle East-"HISTORIC REALITY vs HOLLYWOOD": T.E. Lawrence, Prince Faisal, Lowell Thomas, and Mickey Marcus

Motion Picture Studio's and History Do Not Mix! 

This is a look at some of the history of the Middle East from the First World War to the "Six Day War", but as Hollywood and the United Kingdom want us to believe vs the reality of those years.

Today's "MIDDLE EAST", as my reader knows it. Consists of 15 Arab Countries, in alphabetical order, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Along with the reminder of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey. The overlooked British controlled territories of, Akrotitri and Dhekelia, on the island of Cyprus, and the State of Israel.

When most of the following took place. The majority of the Middle Eastern Countries, that I have just named, did not exist. Their creation started in 1920. Some of them, would not become "Independent States", from the United Kingdom, until the 1970's. 


What is known to historians as "The Sublime Ottoman Empire", came into existence in 1299 A.D.  At its peak, the empire controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

The "Ottoman Empire" would be dissolved in 1922.

The First World War officially started on, Tuesday, July 28, 1914. Most people believe the war was started by the Assassination, on June 28, 1914, of the "Archduke Franz Ferdinand", heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His death might have been the final trigger, but the reasons for the war went back to 1887. When, what would become two groups of countries aligned with each other for perceived economic, military and territorial ambitions. The two groups were, Germany and Austria-Hungary, and Russia, France and Britain. Eventually, on April 6, 1917, the United States joined the second group, but the war was in its third year.

Most people think the First World War was fought solely in Europe. As was my war, Vietnam, thought to be fought solely in that country.

Over the years, the belief that WW1 was fought only in Europe, was reinforced to the viewing audiences through "Historic Period Piece" motion pictures. Such as, Director William A. Wellman's, winner of the first Best Picture Academy Award, 1927's, "Wings", Director Lewis Milestone's, 1930 classic version of Erich Maria Remarque's, "All Quiet on the Western Front", or even the 1979, American made-for-television version. 

Then there were both, the 1932 and 1957, versions of Ernest Hemmingway's. "A Farewell to Arms". The Yugoslavian and Italian, 1969, "Fraulein Doktor", Director Roger Corman's, 1971, "Von Richthofen and Brown", and most recently, 2019's, "1917".

In 1981, the Australian feature film, "Gallipoli", told the story of the Australian Army's battle on the Gallipoli peninsula. On what would become part of the modern country of Turkey.

Which brings me to the "Sinai and Palestine Campaign", between the "Ottoman" and "British Empire's"Which was started in 1915, when Ottoman Soldiers attacked the 
Suez Canal".

The chief ally for the Ottoman's was Germany. They led the Ottoman forces against those of the "British Egyptian Expeditionary Force". Which was initially under the command of "General Archibald Murray", and contained an estimated 5,000 Arab Regulars. These "Regulars" fought beside a British Force made up of soldiers from Australia, Canada, India, and New Zealand. 

One portion of the "Sinai and Palestine Campaign" would become known as "The Arab Revolt". Completely under the leadership of British Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence and Faisal I bin Al-Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashemi, or at least as the 1962 motion picture, "Lawrence of Arabia", would have its audience believe.

Above, T.E. Lawrence in full Arabian Dress and below, Prince Faisal.


LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, was released, December 10, 1962, in London, England. The film runs 227-minutes.

As the above poster states, the motion picture won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Among its other laurels were 4 British Academy Film Awards, including Best British Film.

The screenplay was co-written by Robert Bolt, the playwright of "A Man for All Seasons", about "Sir Thomas More", and Michael Wilson, 1951's, "A Place in the Sun", 1957's, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and would co-write, with Rod Serling, 1968's, original, "The Planet of the Apes".

T.E. Lawrence's own account of the "Arab Revolt", "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", first published in 1926, but completed in 1922. Is credited as the only source material for the screenplay. It is a long, but very good read should my readers be interested.

Actual People in "Lawrence of Arabia".

Peter O'Toole portrayed "T.E. Lawrence".  A "Little White Lie" is on the above poster. When it states "Introducing Peter O'Toole". O'Toole had been in British films and on British television since 1955. In fact, I had seen him in Walt Disney's, 1959 version, of Robert Lewis Stevenson's, "Kidnapped". In 1960, I saw Peter O'Toole in both "The Day They Robbed the Bank of England" and Director Nicholas Ray's, "The Savage Innocents".

From a casting point of view, Peter O'Toole, was not Sam Spiegel and David Lean's first choice for the role. Actually, actor Albert Finney was cast as Lawrence, but after two days of shooting he was fired for still unknown reasons. Also, considered before O'Toole, were, Marlon Brando, Anthony Perkins and Montgomery Clift, but for whatever actual reasons, they all turned it down. It was that excellent, little British film, "The Day They Robbed the Bank of England", that got Peter O'Toole his screen test.

Sir Alec Guinness portrayed "Prince Faisal". Guinness had just been seen in another excellent British motion picture production. This was based upon the true story of the 1792 Naval mutiny on a British man-of-war, "Damn the Defiant!". He would follow this picture, as "Emperor Marcus Aurelius". in Director Anthony Mann's, 1964, "The Fall of the Roman Empire". 

From a casting point of view, Sir Alec Guinness, was not Sam Spiegel, or David Lean's first choice for this role either. The role was originally to be portrayed by Sir Laurence Olivier. I could not locate the reason he didn't take the role. Olivier was only seen, that same year, in, "Term of Trial", with co-star Simone Signoret and introduced both Sarah Miles and Terence Stamp. It should also be noted, that Guinness had actually portrayed T.E. Lawrence in the 1960 play, "Ross", by British playwright, Terence Ratigan.

Anthony Quinn portrayed "Auda Abu Tayi". Quinn had just been seen in Director Ralph Nelson's, 1962, production of Rod Serling's play, "Requiem for a Heavyweight". He would follow this picture with a 1963 appearance on the "Ed Sullivan" television show.

Above Anthony Quinn and below, Auda Abu Tayi.

Jack Hawkins portrayed, "Field Marshall Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby".  Hawkins had just been in the 1962, French film, "Lafayette", as British "General Cornwallis". He would follow this feature with an appearance on the American television anthology series, "The DuPont Show of the Week". 

Above Jack Hawkins and below, Edmund Allenby.

Donald Wolfit portrayed "General Sir Archibald James Murray". Wolfit had just finished his 13th episode of the British television crime drama, "Ghost Squad". He would follow this film in the cast of the true-life crime drama, "Dr. Crippen".

Above Donald Wolfit and below the real Archibald Murray.

Four Fictional Characters, Two Based Upon Real People, in "Lawrence of Arabia" 

Omar Sharif portrayed the fictional "Sherif Ali". Omar Sharif had been acting in Middle-Eastern motion pictures since 1954. He was to have portrayed another fictional character, "Tafas", the Arab guide for Lawrence. 

German actor Horst Bucholtz, 1960's, "The Magnificent Seven", was Spiegel's and Lean's first choice for "Sherif Ali", but Bucholtz turned it down. He was already committed to Director Billy Wilder's, 1961, political satire, "One, Two, Three", starring James Cagney. French leading man, Alain Delon was offered the role, but after being told, he would have to wear brown contact lenses, turned it down. Two other actors were considered, but in the end, with production starting, the decision was made to switched Omar Sharif into the role of "Ali".

Anthony Quayle portrayed the fictional "Colonel Harry Brighton". Quayle had just been in, 1962's, "Damn the Defiant!" He would follow this picture with an appearance on the British television series "Man of the World".

Above, Anthony Quayle is second from the left. 

Arthur Kennedy portrayed "Jackson Bentley". The character was a loose variation of American journalist, "Lowell Thomas". More on the real Thomas later.

Kennedy had been seen as "Pontius Pilate", in the 1961 Italian epic, "Barabbas", starring Anthony Quinn. Arthur Kennedy was also in the cast of 1962's, "Hemmingway's Adventures of a Young Man". 

Claude Rains portrayed "Mr. Dryden". Rains had just been on a 1962, episode of American televisions "Wagon Train" and would follow the feature with a 1963, episode of American televisions "Rawhide".

The character was created to balance "General Allenby's" military interests in the Arab Revolt with the British civilian interests. Some people believe "Dryden" was partly based upon three historical figures:

"Sir Ronald Henry Amherst Storrs" the "Head of the Arab Bureau" and later, the
"Governor of Palestine". 

"David George "D.G." Hogarth" the archeologist friend of T.E. Lawrence.

"Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vincent Arthur Henry McMahon". the political liaison between the British and the real "Arab Revolt" leader, "Hussein ben Ali".

The Screenplay Is Divided Into Two Parts With An Intermission:

Part One:

The story opens on, May 13, 1935, when "Lawrence" takes out his motorcycle and is badly injured. the screenplay immediately flashes back to Cairo, Egypt, during the First World War.

"Lawrence" is presented as a misfit "British Army Lieutenant". Whose education is above those of the officers he serves under, or works with. "General Murray" would like to cashier him out, but "Lieutenant Lawrence" seems well educated on Arabia and "Murray" reluctantly needs him. Where "Lawrence" got his Arabian knowledge is implied through his own studies.

To "General Murray's" surprise, "Mr. Dryden", of the "Arab Bureau", wants to send "Lieutenant Lawrence" on a mission to assess the prospects of the British using "Prince Faisal" in a revolt against the Turks.

"Lawrence's" first taste of the problems he will face with the different Arab tribes comes early. His guide, "Tafas", is killed by "Sherif Ali" for drinking, without permission, from his tribes well. Their tribes have a "Blood Feud" between them.

"Lawrence", next meets "Colonel Brighton", who "orders" him to keep quiet in "Prince Faisal's" presence and let only "Brighton" speak, make his assessment, and leave. 

At his first meeting with "Prince Faisal", after a few minutes of "Colonel Brighton" talking and "Lawrence' disobeying his orders. The "Prince" asks "Brighton" to leave, but for "Lawrence" to stay.

"Brighton" had advised "Faisal" to retreat, but "Lawrence" had spoken out intriguing the Arab Prince. When asked for his opinion now. He advises "Faisal" to launch a surprise attack on the heavily defended Turkish seaport of Aqaba. Adding, that Aqaba could provide the "Arab Revolt" with a place for the British to bring supplies.

"Lawrence" acknowledges that the Turk's have the port town heavily defended against a naval attack, but it thinning defended from the desert side. Because, it would be madness to cross the "Nefud Desert" to attack Aqaba. "Lawrence" says he could take the town with 50 men led by the pessimistic "Sherif Ali".

Two teenage orphans, "Daud", played by British actor John Dimech, and "Farraj", played by British actor Michael Ray, attached themselves as "Servants" to "Lawrence". 

On the trek over the "Nefud Desert", one of "Sherif Ali's" men, "Gasim", played by Indian actor I.S. Johar, during the night falls off his camel from fatigue. At daylight, he is discovered as missing and while the others continue. "Lawrence" goes back to find him. He rescues "Gasim" and earns the respect of "Sherif Ali".

Now, as a token of his respect, "Sherif Ali", gives "Thomas Edward Lawrence", tribal Arab robes to wear.

As the "Nefud" crossing continues and the group is out of water. "Lawrence", alone, in his new robes is spotted by "Auda abu Tayi", leader of the "Howeitat's" and his son. They approach the British soldier, wearing the robes of "abu Tayi's" "Hashemite" enemy, to discover the Englishman. It will take a lot of convincing, but "Lawrence" is able to get "Aud abu Tayi" to join his force against the sea port.

The fragile alliance that "Lawrence" has put together between the Hashemite's and the Howeitat's is about to fall apart, because one of "Sherif Ali's" men, in a blood feud, has killed one of the Howeitat's. To keep the peace, "Colonel Lawrence" will execute the murderer himself. So, that was no Arab can be accused, but then discovers it is "Gasim" the man he had rescued. He carries out the execution and the alliance stay intact.

The next morning, the Arab's over run the Turks and take the port city of Aqaba.

"Lawrence" accompanied by "Daud" and "Farraj", start to cross the "Sinai Desert" for Cairo, to report the cities capture. On the crossing, "Daud" dies in quicksand, and when "Lawrence" and "Farraj" arrive at British headquarters. They are first treated as lowly begging Arabs, until to the surprise of "Colonel Brighton", he discovers its "Lawrence".

Further surprise takes place, as "Lawrence" demands that "Farrj" be given water to drink in the British Officer's club.


Part Two:

"Lawrence" has launched a full-scale guerilla war against the Turks and has been defeating them at every turn. He has been joined by American war correspondent "Jackson Bentley". "Bentley" has made, "Lawrence of Arabia", World famous through his newspaper articles.

On one of the raids, "Farraj" is badly injured and cannot be moved. "Lawrence" shoots him, instead of leaving "Farraj" to be found and tortured by the Turks.

After being warned not to, "Lawrence" decides to scout the Turk held town of Derra, alone. He is captured and tortured by the "Turkish Bey", played by Jose Ferrer, and it is implied that the homosexual "Bey" has his way with "Lawrence".

"Lawrence" is rescued and returns to British headquarters in Cairo, but he doesn't seem to be the same man after his experience with the "Bey".  Later, in Jerusalem, "General Allenby" wants "Lawrence" to lead the attack on Damascus. and he reluctantly agrees.

Now, the changed "T.E. Lawrence", much to the concern of "Prince Fasial", "Sherif Ali", and "Aud abu Tayi", recruits an army of mercenaries and creates his own personal guard.


"Lawrence" and his army spot a retreating group of Turkish soldiers. The Turks have just massacred the residents of the town of Tarfas. One of his men is from there and wants to kill all the Turks without mercy. Against "Lawrence's" orders, he charges the Turks himself, yelling "No Prisoners!". 

In the moment, "Lawrence" takes up the man's cry and a slaughter of the Turkish soldiers takes place. Afterwards, "Lawrence" regrets his actions, but it's too late.

Now, regrouped with "Sherif Ali" and "
"Aud abu Tayi", with no sign of "General Allenby" and the promised British troops. "Lawrence" makes a decisive decision and the battle for Damascus takes place with the Turk's being defeated. 

"Lawrence" now sets up the "Arab Council" to Arabia for themselves and not by British rule.

But the Arabs leaders cannot work together and the council falls apart. As the utilities and other public services, in Damascus, are not being maintained and the residents are complaining.

"Lawrence" is promoted to Colonel, but discovers that a deal between the British and "Prince Faisal" is being made. Which will become the "British Mandate for Palestine".

"Considered an impediment, "T.E. Lawrence" is sent back to England and the screenplay returns to his motorcycle ride and his funeral.

The End


As I previously mentioned, the character of "Jackson Bentley", is a thinly written version of the real Journalist and Self-Promoter, Lowell Jackson Thomas. Thomas traveled to all points of the globe for stories and sold them to newspapers and made short theatrical films. He used a camera man, named Harry Chase, who accompanied him on many of his travels. The above photograph was taken by Chase in 1918.

The two men originally went to the "Western Front" of the First World War, but life in the trenches had nothing to inspire American's and Thomas' pocket book. So, he next went to Italy, that in itself, also, had nothing to build a story and further his reputation as a journalist. However, Lowell Thomas heard about "General Allenby's" campaign against the Ottoman Empire and decided to go to Arabia.

After obtaining credentials as a War Correspondent from the British Foreign Office. Thomas and Chase traveled to Palestine to cover General Allenby, but met a British Officer, Stationed in Jerusalem, a "Captain", not Lieutenant, named Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence.

Above, is the first photographed taken by Harry Chase of T.E. Lawrence. The photo was taken on, February 28, 1918, in the Office of the Military Governor, Ronald Storrs.

At the time, "Captain Lawrence", was spending $282,980 a month, to "encourage", aka: "bribe", the residents of Palestine to revolt against the Turks.

Lowell Thomas and Harry Chase originally were to spend a few days with Lawrence in the desert. Instead, it became weeks, on the condition that Thomas also interviewed and took photographs of the Emir Fasial and other Arab leaders.

Above, T.E. Lawrence with Lowell Thomas

Lowell Thomas shot dramatic footage of the British and Arabs and then returned to the United States. Taking his footage, Thomas, started lecturing, 
in New York City in March 1919, on the war in Palestine. His original title concentrated on "General Allenby", but he noticed more people were interested in the British Officer dressed liked an Arab. 

The showman took over, Lowell Thomas now added more about "Captain Lawrence", changed the title to include his name. This added to the slowly building story of the person that would be known as "Lawrence of Arabia".

Lowell Thomas was asked to take his lectures to England. He agreed, on the condition, if the "King", himself, requested it. Additionally, he wanted to give them in either Drury Lane, or Covent Garden. Both demands were met, and his lectures, starting in August 1919, lasted a full six months.

Lowell Thomas further built upon the legend, and himself, with the publication, in 1924, of the book, "With Lawrence in Arabia".

The following link will take my reader, at the time this writing, to a 1927 silent short travelogue made by Lowell Thomas about T.E. Lawrence.


Lawrence's Road to Military Intelligence

In 1910, the 22 years old, Archeologist Thomas Edward Lawrence, was finally given the chance at working outside of the United Kingdom. The dig was in the Ottoman Empire, in the area that would become modern Syria. It was under the leadership of the aforementioned, D.G. Hogarth, for the "British Museum".

Hogarth arranged a scholarship for T.E. Lawrence at "Magdalen College" in Oxford, England. This was actually a means to get Lawrence paid while on the dig, because working in the field came under the scholarship's requirements and the way it was paid out.

On Lawrence's way to the site, he stopped in Byblos, in what would become modern Lebanon, but was still part of the Ottoman Empire at the time. There he learned Arabic and, afterwards, went to the biblical excavation site at Carchemish. Which is located, today, on the border between modern Turkey and Syria.

On the team was Archeologist and Ancient Language expert, Reginald Campbell Thompson, and Archeologist, the future Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. 

From 1912 to the start of the First World War. Woolley was working, undercover, for "British Naval Intelligence", as was his assistant, T.E. Lawrence. While, excavating at Carchemish, the two were reporting on the German building of the Berlin to Baghdad Railroad. 

Above, Woolley and Lawrence at Carchemish.

In January 1914, the British military co-opted Woolley and Lawrence, with their cover as civilian Archeologists, to survey the Negev Desert. Their cover was provided by a society based in London, the "Palestine Exploration Fund", to search for an area referred to in the Bible as either the, "Wilderness of Zin", or the "Zin Desert". 

Militarily, the Negev Desert was critical, because the "Ottoman Army" would have to cross it to get at what became modern Egypt. Eventually, the two Archeologists published a report of their expedition's findings, but more important, are the maps they created of the Negev and surrounding territory. These maps paid special attention to the areas around the waterways, including the port city of Aqaba. Which Lawrence became very familiar with.

In August 1914, with the First World War starting, Lawrence was advised, by Military Intelligence's Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Francis (S.F.) Newcombe, not to enlist in the Army at that time, but wait for two months. When the "General Lists of Officers" changed.

In October 1914, T.E. Lawrence enlisted and on, December 15, 1914, Lawrence was sent to Cairo and placed under the command of Naval Lieutenant Commander David Hogarth with the newly formed "Arab Bureau". The "Arab Bureau's" commanding officer was Brigadier-General Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton". Who, in turn, reported to British Egyptian High Commissioner, Sir Vincent Arthur Henry McMahon.

T.E. Lawrence, unlike his portrayal in 1962's, "Lawrence of Arabia". was not the only British Officer involved directly in what became the "Arab Revolt". As I have already mentioned, there was both Hogarth and Newcombe, but additionally British Military Intelligence had available, Colonels, Cyril Wilson and Pierce C. Joyce. Along with Major Herbert Garland, below, who led the first successful attack on the Hejaz Railroad, in February 1917. Which was a full month before Lawrence did, as seen in the motion picture. Additionally, the failed previous attack on the railroad, that took place in January, had been led by S.F. Newcombe, again without T.E. Lawrence's involvement. 


It should also be noted, that there was a French Military Mission working with the British in Cairo. The French were under the command of Colonel Edouard Bremond.

There were several operations by Military Intelligence, not shown in the 1962 motion picture, involving Thomas Edward Lawrence.

Sometime during the Spring of 1916, T.E. Lawrence was sent to Mesopotamia to assist in relieving the "Siege of Kut". This was a blockade of a 8,000 member strong British Garrison located in the town of Kut. The garrison had been under siege, by the Ottoman Army, since December 7, 1915.  Lawrence was instructed to attempt a negotiation with the Ottoman's, including bribery, to end the siege. He failed, but the siege was finally ended on April 29, 1916. 

On December 1, 1916, Arab Forces under T.E. Lawrence attacked the Ottoman Garrison at the port city of Yanbu, but were forced to retreat. Five British Naval Ships arrived and the second battle for the city took place. On January 18, 1917, the city was in complete Arab control.

In 1917, Lawrence with Prince Faisal's forces, took the Ottoman, sea port of Al 
Wajh. The seaport became a base of operations for the attacks on the Hejaz Railroad. It is now located in north-western Saudi Arabia.

What was kept in the motion picture were the attacks on Aqaba and Damascus, if not as they actually took place. 

T.E. Lawrence's attack plans on Aqaba were kept from his British superiors, not as shown in the motion picture, but because of his concerns they would object to having the Arab forces, under British leadership, cross possible French interests. The expedition left the city of Wejh, on May 9, 1917, and it took until, July 6, 1917, for the city to be taken.

T. E. Lawrence was involved in the planning and build-up to capture Damascus, but he was not present when the city was taken. Lawrence arrived around 9 A.M., October 1, 1918.
The first to arrive and accept the surrender were the "10th Australian Light Horse Brigade", under the command of Major A.C.N. "Harry" Olden. 

By the start of 1919, Lawrence was a private citizen back in the United Kingdom. This lasted until 1923, when he joined the "Royal Air Force" as a lowly airman, and write "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and other works All leading to his motorcycle death in 1935.

As seen in 1962's, "Lawrence of Arabia", in 1918, T. E. Lawrence helped set up the "Arab Council". However, the "Council" did not fall apart as seen in the motion picture.

Between March 1920 and July 25, 1920, the "Franco-Syrian War" took place. The Arab population had declared war on a new enemy, France. Who was attempting to take control of what was then known, as "Greater Syria".

Back on March 7, 1920, "Prince Faisal", was proclaimed the "King of Greater Syria" and led the Arab side against the French! After the French were victorious, in the "Battle of Maysalun", on July 24, 1920. General Henri Joseph Eugene Gouraud, removed "Faisal" from office and disbanded the "Arab Council". Unknown to the Syrians at the time, including "King Faisal", Damascus, was already in the agreed to, French Zone of occupation. 

Which takes me to:

Sykes-Picot Agreement

In the motion picture, Lawrence gets assurance from General Allenby and the fictional "Mr. Dryden", that there were no plans by the British Government to take control of the Arab lands after the war. This was not true, but I would note that those in Cairo were kept out of the loop.

On January 3, 1916, a "Secret Agreement", between Mark Sykes, for the United Kingdom, and, Francois Georges-Picot, for France was signed. 

Above, Mark Sykes and below, Francois Georges Picot

With the approval of Britain and France's two allies, at the time, Russia and Italy. What became known to the World as the "Sykes-Picot Agreement" was created. Very simply put, the agreement cut-up the Ottoman Empire into controlled spheres of influence, once the allies won. 

What my reader sees above, is that the British had two "Zones of Influence", in shades of pink, connected to each other. The first was completely under "British Occupation". While the second was a "British Protectorate". In short, the future sites of the current, "Jordan", the "Palestinian Territory" and the "State of Israel".

On August 21, 1923, the British made their ally, "Prince Faisal" the "King of Iraq", but most of the people living in Iraq had no idea who he was.


The Balfour Declaration

Back on November 2, 1917, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George's, Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave a "Declaration" to Lord Walter Rothchild, promising the British Zionist Leader, a "Jewish Homeland", in Palestine. 

The "Declaration", in the name of the British Government, would eventually lead not only to the creation of the State of Israel, but become a part of the catalyst to the current problems between the Arab population of Palestine and the Jewish State it helped create.

The actual Declaration reads:

His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious right of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Above, Arthur Balfour and below Walter Rothchild


However, the same British Government, through a series of letters, starting in July 1915 through March 1916, between Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vincent Arthur Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner for Egypt, and Hussein bin Ali, Sherif and Emir of Mecca, seen below. Had agreed, in exchange for the "Arab Revolt", to recognize Arab total Independence in Palestine. Thus, predating the "Balfour Declaration" and the other part of the catalyst I mentioned.

It could be said, that the British Government was playing both sides against the other, to their own advantage.

The British Mandate of Palestine

Founded on January 10, 1920, after the Paris Peace Conference, that officially ended the First World War, was the "League of Nations".

From April 19 to April 26, 1920the San Remo Conference, in Italy, decided the division of three-then-unidentified areas of the Ottoman Empire.

Below, is the original 1920 San Remo Conference Mandate Map.

In July 1922, the "League of Nations" agreed to what became known as the "British Mandate for Palestine". Giving "Great Britain" complete control over Palestine. The "Mandate" required the British to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish Homeland, per the "Balfour Declaration"

However, in September 1922, the "League of Nations" and "Great Britain" made a different decision about Palestine. They decided to take three-fourths of the Mandated land from the Jewish Homeland and, at the proper time, turn the "Emirate of Transjordan", into the country of "Trans-Jordan". 

On April 19, 1936, "The Great Revolt", aka: "The Great Palestine Revolt", took place and would last into September 1939. This was an uprising of Palestine Arabs against the British Palestine Mandate. The Arab population demanded total independence from the United Kingdom and the end of the open-ended immigration of European Zionist Jews into Palestine. 

At the revolts conclusion, after 50,000 British Troops had been sent in the Palestine Mandate, over 5,000 Arabs, 300 Jews, and 262 Britons were dead and over 15,000 Arabs wounded.

The  revolt and the way the British had handled it. Led to more disengagement between the Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish population who were working to create an joint economy.

Above, British soldiers on a train car with two Arab prisoners. Below, an image of a funeral for Jews from the town of "Giv'at Ada". That was established in 1903, and named for the wife of Baron Edmond James Rothchild.

Below, is Tarab Addul Hadi, the feminist organizer of the "Palestine Arab Women's Association.

Below, the original Arab Revolt leader, Khalil al-Sakani and his Jewish Counterpart, "David Ben-Gurion.

On April 20, 1946, the League of Nations was disbanded. However, since October 24, 1945, a second group, the United Nations, had come into being.

Transjordan gained its independence from the British Empire, on May 25, 1946.

Israel gained its independence from the British Empire on May 14, 1948.


In 1958, author Leon Uris, published his novel "Exodus". 

It is still, the number one, Best Selling Novel, on the New York Times Best Selling List. "Exodus" is as controversial as it's a good read. Leon Uris' knocked out another novel, Margret Mitchell's, 1936, "Gone with the Wind", with its similar controversies. 

Uris,, has been criticized, for "Exodus" taking what is seen as either an "Anti-Arab", or more specific, due to the current political climate, "Anti-Palestinian" tone. It has also been criticized as overlooking the basic injustices of the period Uris covered. 

On, December 15, 1960, the Otto Preminger Directed motion picture version of the Leon Uris novel premiered in New York City. The movie runs 208-minutes, and starred Paul Newman, Eva Marie-Saint and an All-Star supporting cast in typical Hollywood fashion.

The screenplay, by one-time "Black Listed" Dalton Trumbo, follows the novel fairly close for the time allotted the picture. 

The audience first sees, American widowed nurse, "Katherine 'Kitty' Fremont", played by Eva-Marie Saint, on the British controlled island of Cyprus. She is advised not to go to Palestine, because of the trouble between the Arabs and Jews, but she goes anyway. The set-up for the main story has been completed.

At this point, the real story basically begins. The audience sees the arrival in a Palestine, under the British Mandate, of the ship "Exodus", filled with Jewish refugees from Europe. However, the British Mandate Government will not let them leave the ship and wants to turn them back to the countries, such as Russia with its Jewish pogrom, they came from.

The screenplay than revolves around those refugees upon the "Exodus", their hunger strike to force the British to let them come ashore, the efforts to get them food and, if necessary, smuggle all of them, as happened before, onto the land to be assimilated among the current Jewish population. Something the Palestine Arab population doesn't want to happen, because of the growing numbers of Jews.

 A civil war between the Arabs and Jews, with the British in the middle, had started the year before and the influx of the Jewish refugees keeps tipping the scales. More on that war with the next motion picture I will discuss.

As to that British-Jewish relationship, the role of "British Major Caldwell", played by Peter Lawford, is very anti-Semitic, but not really pro-Arab either. He is the perfect example of the stereotypical British Officer in Palestine under the British Mandate.

However, there are two subplots, the love story between Paul Newman's "Ari Ben Canaan" and "Kitty Fremont". Along with mounting pressure on the friendship between Newman's "Ari" and John Derek's Arab friend, "Taha". As the Arab-Israeli civil war collides around the two men of different faiths and political beliefs.


After the United Nations declares Israel an independent country and the British prepare to leave Palestine. The civil war turns into a war for independence from both sides points of view. 

Next, "Ari" finds "Taha" has been hung, having been killed by his fellow Arabs for being a friend of the Jews.

"Ari" and "Kitty" will lead children through Arab held territory to safety as Arab attacks increase.

The movie ends with "Ari" and others going out on patrol. The film is very pro-Israel in tone, as the book is accused of being. However, it also appears to be more anti-British than Arab. Until the final scenes after "Taha's" murder.

Although Otto Preminger's "Exodus" is the most known Hollywood motion picture about this period. There was another long-forgotten motion picture released closer to the actual events.

As I said, the United Nations created the State of Israel, on May 14, 1948. Fifteen-months later, Universal Pictures released:

SWORD IN THE DESERT released August 24, 1949 in New York City. The film runs 101-minutes.

The screenplay was by Robert Buckner a contract writer for the studios. His work includes the Errol Flynn and Oliva De Havilland, 1939, "Dodge City". The 1940, "Knute Rockne All American", starring Pat O'Brien and featuring an unknown Ronald Reagan, and the 1942, musical biography of "George M. Cohan", "Yankee Doodle Dandy", starring James Cagney.

For "Sword in the Desert", Robert Buckner also was the Producer. His screenplay was based upon his visit to Palestine in 1934. At time, he wrote a short story about some Americans celebrating Christmas in Palestine. In the 1940's, Buckner expanded his story into a novel and then in 1949, Robert Buckner, turned his novel into a screenplay. It was first called "Night Watch", retitled, "Desert Legion", and finally, "Sword in the Desert".

The screenplay opens at the start of 1948, during a civil war in the "British Mandate". A merchant ship, owned and "Captained" by American "Mike Dillon", played by Dana Andrews, arrives off the coast of Palestine. On board are Jewish refugees from Europe and as "Dillion" watches, a small boat with Jewish leader, "David Vogel", played by Stephen McNally, comes out to the ship. "Mike Dillon" becomes mad upon hearing that to get his eight-thousand American dollars for bringing the refugees to this anchorage. He will now have to go on-shore to meet the money man. 

As the small boat, with "Mike Dillon", reaches shore. A British patrol boat, ahead of schedule, runs along the coast, spots it and open fire on the beached boat and the surrounding shore line. "Dillon" is forced to go in-land and will become involved in the Arab-Jewish civil war and meet "Sabra", a Jewish woman portrayed by Marta Toren.

Above, left to right, Dana Andrews, Marta Toren, and Stephen McNally. 

Above, Jeff Chandler as "Kurta" with Stephen McNalley. This was Chandler's sixth feature film and three of his five previous appearances are without on-screen credit.

This small motion picture wasn't shot on exotic locations, as 1960's, "Exodus", or 1962's, "Lawrence of Arabia" were. For Palestine, Universal Pictures used their own North Hollywood, California, back lot, with some scenes shot in Monterey and Victorville.

"Sword in the Desert" was the first American film about the November 30, 1947 to May 14, 1948, Second, Civil War within the British Palestine Mandate. The second motion picture about the war was "Exodus", eleven years later.

Note: The final day of the "Civil War", is the date that the United Nations formally acknowledged the State of Israel. The British stopped control of Palestine, would officially leave, and the conflict between the Palestine Arabs and, now, the Jewish Homeland truly began.

Which brings me to my last Hollywood Motion Picture.

CAST A GIANT SHADOW released March 30, 1966 and runs 146-minutes.

The motion picture was based upon the book of the same title by Ted Berkman. The screenplay was by Melville Shavelson, a writer of light musical comedies and feature films. He also Directed this feature film and most of his other Directing work were in the same vein as his screenplays.

The screenplay was originally written for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but they dropped the idea and Melville Shavelson was able to purchase his own screenplay for $12,500. According to Shavelson, in the "New York Times" for May 24, 1964.

MGM claimed to be concerned about the reaction in the Arab world, especially Egypt, if the made a motion picture about Israel. Which due to the subject matter, might be seen as anti-Arab. Additionally, there was still a lingering "Pogrom Mentality" among many Jewish executives in the American motion picture industry. There had been a large blow-back from the United States and Worldwide Arab communities over 1960's, "Exodus". So, MGM, took the easy way out.

Shalvelson found the financial backing he needed from actor, John Wayne and his Batjac Productions. The motion picture would be released by United Artists.

This was the very "Hollywood Version" of the life of retired, "Judge Advocate General Corps', Major David 'Mickey' Marcus".

Kirk Douglas portrayed "David 'Mickey' Marcus". Douglas had just been seen in a 1966 episode of televisions, "The Lucy Show", as himself. He would follow this feature with the French World War 2 motion picture, 1966's, "Is Paris Burning", as "General George S. Patton Jr.".

Below, the real David "Mickey" Marcus.


Angie Dickinson portrayed "Emma Marcus". Dickson had just been seen in the Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, 1966, "The Chase". She would follow this picture with an appearance in a episode of the television Western, "The Virginian". 

Below, David and Emma Marcus at their wedding.

So ends the only real people in this motion picture. Everyone else, was either a composite, or completely fictional.

Yul Brynner portrayed "Asher Gonen". Brynner had just co-starred with Marlon Brando is the World War 2 drama, 1965's, "Morituri". He would follow this picture with the made-for-television movie, 1966's, "The Poppy Is Also A Flower", with Angie Dickinson.

It is suggested, that Brynner's chaaracter might have been based upon "Israeli General Moshe Dayan", but without the eye patch from to June 7, 1941. When a snipers bullet hit the lenses of a pair of binoculars Moshe Dayan was using causing a permanent injury.

Above Yul Brynner and below Moshe Dayan.

Senta Berger portrayed the fictional "Magna Simon". Just before this feature, Berger co-starred with Tom Tyron and Harve Presnell in the Cavalry Western, 1965's, "The Glory Guys", The Austrian actress followed this film with, 1966's, "The Poppy Is Also A Flower". Her character would become Mickey Marcus' Israeli lover.

James Donald portrayed Israeli Officer, "Major Safir". Scottish actor Donald's career included the Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Borgnine, outstanding, 1958, "The Vikings". The previous year he was in "The Bridge On the River Kwai" and in 1963, was one of the British POW's in "The Great Escape". After this film, James Donald would portray, "Doctor Roney", in the Hammer Films classic science fiction, "Quartermass and the Pit" aka: "5 Million Years to Earth".

Above, Kirk Douglas and James Donald.

Luther Adler portrayed "Jacob Zion". Adler was guest appearing on American television at the time. His character is believed to be based upon "David Ben-Gurion".

Then there were two Hollywood stars in totally fictional roles to lure in the audience.

John Wayne portrayed the fictitious "American World War 2, General Mike Randolph". Which was based upon the real "Army General Maxwell Taylor"  The previous year, Wayne was seen in "The Sons of Katie Elder". He would follow this picture with Director Howard Hawks' first remake of his 1959, "Rio Bravo", 1966's, "El Dorado".

Above John Wayne, below General Maxwell Taylor.

Frank Sinatra portrayed the fictional, "Vince Talmadge". Sinatra had just been in 1965's, "Von Ryan's Express" and followed this film with 1966's, sea going robbery thriller, "Assault on a Queen" (Mary).

The film was publicized as if it was on a par with "Lawrence of Arabia". It wasn't anywhere near it and the critics had a field day. This was an All-Star Hollywood biographical picture. Which meant there wasn't much truth to it, but it made a good heroic story.

The screenplay starts right after the United Nations has acknowledged the State of Israel. The recently discharged, now "Army Reserve Colonel Mickey Marcus", is  working in New York and is approached by a "Haganah" agent, "Major Safir". Who wants "Marcus" to come to Israel and train their army against invasion from their Arab neighbors.

The Pentagon refuses to authorize "Marcus" to travel to Israel under his real name and status. However, the "Haganah" create false documents and he becomes civilian "Michael Stone". Arriving in Israel he is met by "Haganah" member "Magna Simon". 

A flashback shows how "Mickey Marcus" was one of the first to parachute into Nazi occupied France and liberate one of the first Concentration Camps.

The flashback is used to show who "Marcus" is, as he is dealing with suspicious Israeli's not sure they want the American to train them. However, "Mickey" leads a commando raid to assist in the landing of illegal refugees into Israel and this changes the opinion of him.

"Mickey Marcus" now prepares Military Manuals for the training and operations of the new Israeli Army. After which, "Michael Stone" returns to his wife in New York. Sadly, "Emma" has a miscarriage, but she's happy to have her husband safe at home. However, "Mickey" is restless and wants to return to Israel.

"Marcus" returns and is given command of the Jerusalem front and made "Aluf (General)". A rank that has never been used since biblical days.

The film uses a major portion of the screenplay to tell the reason behind, and the creation of the Israeli "Burma Road" to get supplies to besieged Jerusalem . I will go into detail in my look at the real "Mickey Marcus".

Now more men are arriving from Europe who have never been in Israel. Many of them are assigned to "David Marcus'" command and one night. While, wearing a white sheet, he is killed by one of these new recruits who doesn't speak English, and believed him to be an Arab infiltrator.


In 1920, David Marcus entered "West Point" and graduated in 1924. After completing his active duty requirement, he entered Law School. As a New York Prosecutor, during the 1930's, David Marcus prosecuted several high profile Mafia leaders including Charles "Lucky: Luciano. During 1940, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia made him, the "New York City Commissioner of the Department of Correction".

After Pearl Harbor, Mickey Marcus commanded an Army Ranger Combat Training School. In 1943, he became the chief officer for planning the occupation governments in countries liberated by the allies. He accompanied President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the conferences at Cairo, Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam. David Marcus helped draw up the surrender terms for Italy.

In 1944, in Britain, Colonel Marcus met his West Point classmate, Army General Maxwell Taylor. Although he was not a trained paratrooper, Marcus convinced Taylor to let him go with the 101st Airborne on their next mission. Mickey Marcus parachuted into Normandy, on "D-Day", June 6, 1944. He took command of some scattered troops, but in a week was found out and sent back to the United States.

 After, "V-E Day", May 8, 1945, Army General Lucius D. Clay asked Colonel Marcus to serve on his staff in Germany. One of Clay's requirements was for all his staff to tour "Dachau Concentration Camp". The sights shocked Mickey Marcus and, although not a Zionist, or for a Jewish State. He stated that this visit made him think differently about the idea of a Jewish State.

In 1946, Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus was named the chief of the Army's War Crimes Division and planned both the legal and security measures for the "Nuremberg Trials".

In 1947, David Ben-Gurion, personally approached David Marcus to find an American Officer to serve as military advisor to the Israeli army. He could not find anyone who wanted the position and volunteered himself. In 1948, the Pentagon informally acquiesced to Marcus' request, but under the condition he did not go under his own name and rank. This was to avoid problems not only for him once there, but the United States Government. Those problems possibly coming from Great Britain who had the "Palestine Mandate" he would be entering.

David "Mickey" Marcus now became "Michael Stone", shown in Israel below.

Marcus, designed a Israeli command and control structure for the "Haganah". He identified Israel's weakest points as the Negev Desert in the south and the area around Jerusalem. 

He was appointed a "Aluf (General)" and unlike what was said in "Cast A Giant Shadow. There already were others with the same title at the time. "Aluf Marcus" was given command of the Jerusalem area.

On May 15, 1948, British forces withdrew from the "Latrun Fort", actually a monastery, on top of a hill overlooking the only road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Immediately, the Jewish "Palmach Harel Brigade" took control, but they were driven out by the "Arab Legion (Transjordan's regular army)". Which were under the Command of British Soldiers. 

David Marcus participated in two failed attacks against the "Latrun Fort", both failed. Supplies were not getting through to Jerusalem and the city was cut off by the British and the Transjordan troops. Note this was happening after Israel was its own State and had gained independence from Great Britain.

The above actions and the ones to follow, were part of what was known as the "Battle of Jerusalem", between December 1947 and July 18, 1948.

Mickey Marcus now came up with that "Israeli Burma Road to Jerusalem". Named for the road built in China. This would be a bypass road between Kibbutz Hulda and Jerusalem. The road opened on June 10, 1948.

Above, the "Israeli Burma Road"

The day after the road opened, the United Nations Cease Fire was to take effect. At 4 AM, a few hours before the cease fire, David "Mikey" Marcus was killed by his own men. 

He came out of an abandoned monastery, being used as Israeli headquarters. It was a very cold night and Marcus was wrapped in a white blanket and had the appearance of being an Arab. Guard Eliezer Linski's requested the password in Hebrew and "General Marcus" responded in English. Marcus didn't speak, or understand Hebrew and Linski didn't speak or understand English. In the very dark night confusion resulted, apparently General David "Mickey" Marcus turned away, and it was thought he was escaping and was shot by the guard and others opened fire at him. His body was found the following day.

American Army Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus would be buried at West Point and when she passed away, his wife, Emma Marcus, joined him.


Starting in 1923, Gaza, was part of the "British Palestine Mandate". When the United Nations removed Transjordan, on May 25, 1946, from British control. Gaza remained under British control, as did the area designated to be the Jewish Homeland. 

However, when the United Nations removed the Jewish Homeland. on May 14, 1948, from British control and Israel was born. Gaza still remained under British control.

The solution seemed to come on, September 22, 1948, with the establishment of the "All-Palestine Government". This would place Gaza under an Egyptian administration. The action had been approved by five members of the "Arab League", Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Transjordan was the only "Arab League" member who voted against it. Egypt was suspicious of the motivation of Transjordan's King Abdullah I. Who wanted to expand his country's borders and wanted the area of Gaza as part of Transjordan. 

In 1959, "The All Palestine Government" was dissolved and the "Gaza Strip" was now placed under direct Egyptian control by the United Nations. Then on, June 5, 1967, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, attacked Israel. Six Days Later, on June 10, 1967, Israel had won "The Six-Day War".

One of the results was Egypt lost the "Gaza Strip" to Israel. 

I had an interesting prospective on those Six Days. I was in the Mediterranean on board the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Shangri-La, CVA-38. We went to "General Quarters" by hearing "This is not a Drill". On the flight deck the two "Ready Jets" were on the catapults, but next to them where Marine Guards and nuclear weapons beside the conventional. For six days we slept, if we could, at our stations. Only permitted to go to get food and the nearest toilet. 

I attempted to find motion pictures made by Arab countries for both perspectives in this article, but I could not locate any such films or references of them. 

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