I've just been reading Deborah Rechter's review of Mark Dapin's new book, Jewish Anzacs: Jews in the Australian Military. (Lest we forget the Australian Jews who served too, The Australian, 6/5/17)
And lo, I learnt therein that which I did not know before!
Did you know, for example, that according to Rechter, "the assault on Beersheva [sic: Beersheba]," "lead [sic: led] to the Balfour Declaration supporting the establishment of the State of Israel"?
Whether this astonishing revelation is Rechter's, or Dapin's, or both, I do not know, but there you go: the taking of Beersheba from the Turks by the Australian Light Horse on October 31, 1917, directly sparked the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917!
One pictures Britain's foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, eyes aglow, turning to his War Cabinet colleagues on November 1, and saying:
'I say, chaps, I hear the colonials have just stormed some God-forsaken Turkish rathole in Palestine called... err... Beirut... no, no, not Beirut... B... B... B... that's it, Beersheba - so, hey, let's give Palestine to the Jews, shall we?'
And they, replying as one:
'Brilliant, Arthur! Your logic is impeccable!'
'Isn't it always, gentlemen. Now let's see.' Balfour scribbles away. 'How's this? Dear Lord Rothschild, the British army has just captured Beersheba. Let the State of Israel begin! Now! And seeing this matter is so frightfully urgent, gentlemen, let's drop everything, war and all, and issue it tomorrow, which is, if I'm not mistaken, and I never am (chuckles), is November 2, 1917. Let it be known as the Beirut... no... the Beersheba... no... the Balfour Declaration!
Cabinet, as one:
Way to go, Arthur...
Rechter then quotes a short extract from Dapin's book, in which we discover that which is entirely new to archaeology: "... the pyramids of Gaza..."
While on the subject of WWI history, I really can't let this priceless editorial letter (The Australian, 4/5/17) by Howard Dewhirst of Burleigh Heads, Qld, go without a mention:
"One thing Yassmin Abdel-Megied forgot is that World War I ended several hundred years of Ottoman colonialism. Why is it good to recall the disappearance of the British Empire and not good to note the same feelings about Ottoman colonialism? The Gallipoli campaign was a failure but helped to win the war, thereby contributing to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire."
Maybe, Howard, that's because "Ottoman colonialism," as you choose to call it, in the Levant was relatively benign compared to the Anglo-French dispensation which followed the eviction of the Turks there, and involved parliamentary representation, open borders, and, of course, nothing even remotely resembling the colonial-settler, apartheid state of Israel. Lest we forget, indeed!