George Antonius

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George Antonius
Tombstone of George Antonius at the Orthodox cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The epitaph says "heed and awaken, O Arabs".

George Habib Antonius, CBE (hon.) (Arabic: جورج حبيب أنطونيوس‎; October 19, 1891 – May 21, 1942) was a Lebanese-Egyptian author and diplomat, settled in Jerusalem, one of the first historians of Arab nationalism. Born in Deir al Qamar in a Lebanese Eastern Orthodox Christian family, he served as a civil servant in the British Mandate of Palestine. His 1938 book The Arab Awakening generated an ongoing debate over such issues as the origins of Arab nationalism, the significance of the Arab Revolt of 1916, and the machinations behind the post-World War I political settlement in the Middle East.


Sir Gilbert Clayton and George Antonius (in white suit) with King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (centre), Jedda c 1925.

Antonius graduated from Cambridge University and joined the newly formed British Mandate Administration in Palestine as the deputy in the Education Department. His wife, Katy, was a daughter of Faris Nimr Pasha, a wealthy Syrian Christian and cultural activist. Antonius had a difficult relationship with the British. Despite his senior position he and his wife were refused membership of the Jerusalem sports club which had a "No Natives" policy.[1]

In 1925, Antonius joined Gilbert Clayton in the newly formed Saudi Arabia, as his translator and advisor in the negotiations to agree the boundaries of Saudi Arabia [2] with Iraq, Transjordan and Yemen.[3]

He resigned his position in 1930 to join the Institute of Current World Affairs in New York City. He was secretary general to the Arab Delegation to the London Conference (1939).[4]

An annual lecture is given in his memory at St Antony's College, Oxford. [5]



  1. ^ Larsson, Theo (1995) Seven Passports for Palestine. Sixty Years in the Levant. Longfield. ISBN 0-9525-379-0-7. p.27.
  2. ^ University of Oxford. St Antony's College. Middle East Centre. George Antonius Collection. Fonds level description. Biographical history: Antonius, George Habib (1891-1942)
  3. ^ Report by Sir Gilbert Clayton, K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G., on his missions to negotiate certain agreements with the Sultan of Nejd, and instructions issued to him in regard to his mission, National Archives, 25 Nov 1925, CO 935/1/7
  4. ^ Khalidi, Walid (1984) Before their Diaspora: A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948. Institute of Palestine Studies. ISBN 0-88728-143-5. p.290.
  5. ^ Mehrez, Samia Egypt's Culture Wars - Politics and Practice. American University in Cairo Press, 2010.


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