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Middle East

  • Tyre, on her headland, listens to the waves. Her columns are lost or carried away or lie in the sea where they fell broken, and the water, clearer than glass, lisps over them or under, singing an old song learned in the mornings of Time ... There is nothing left in Tyre except this forgetfulness, a life of little things quieter than silence, an essence of oblivion woven with the sun and sea.

  • Everyone I knew, including my new friends in Jordan, expressed horror at the realities of the Holocaust. But they resented, as I was growing to, how Arabs were cast as the aggressors in the dispute between Israel and the Arab countries, when it was their land that had been seized to resolve a European political problem.

  • The deserts of the Middle East are in need of water, not bombers.

    • Golda Meir,
    • "A Solemn Appeal to the Arabs," address to the United Nations General Assembly ()
  • We have not the slightest doubt that eventually there will be peace and cooperation between us. This is a historic necessity for both peoples.

    • Golda Meir,
    • "A Solemn Appeal to the Arabs," address to the United Nations General Assembly ()
  • There's always trouble in the Middle East. I can't recall any time in my life when there hasn't been trouble there.

  • My country is a kingdom of fire, a carpet of sand and stone that millions of feet have trodden.

  • Marriage, in my culture, has nothing to do with romance. It's a matter of logic. If Mr. and Mrs. Ahmadi like Mr. and Mrs. Nejari, then their children should get married. On the other hand, if the parents don't like each other, but the children do, well, this is where sad poetry comes from.

  • The verb 'to love' in Persian is 'to have a friend.' 'I love you' translated literally is 'I have you as a friend,' and 'I don't like you' simply means 'I don't have you as a friend.'

  • ... in the traditional family structure of Persia ... one simply cannot discard close relatives just because one does not like them; rather one has to accommodate them, make allowances and accept them, like misfortune.

  • ... Afghans excel at fighting Afghans. This is what Afghans do, even when they are not being invaded by foreign powers. They fight each other, tribe against tribe, brother against brother, half-brother against half-brother, cousin against cousin, uncle against nephew, father against son.

  • [On the establishment/unification of Iraq:] Oh, if we can pull this thing off; rope together the young hotheads and the Shiah obscurantists, enthusiasts, polished old statesmen and scholars — if we can make them work together and find their own salvation for themselves, what a fine thing it would be. I see visions and dream dreams.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • letter, 1920, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()
  • I propose to assume ... that if, in disposing of the question of the future administration of Iraq, we allow ourselves to be influenced by any consideration whatsoever other than the well being of the country itself and its people we shall be guilty of a shameless act of deliberate dishonesty rendered the more heinous and contemptible by our reiterated declarations of disinterested solicitude for the peoples concerned.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()
  • I think we're on the edge of a pretty considerable Arab nationalist demonstration with which I'm a good deal in sympathy. ... if we leave this country to go to the dogs ... we shall have to reconsider our whole position in Asia. If Mesopotamia goes, Persia goes inevitably, and then India. And the place which we leave empty will be occupied by seven devils a good deal worse than any which existed before we came.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1920, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()
  • Until quite recently I've been wholly cut off from them [the Shias] because their tenets forbid them to look upon an unveiled woman and my tenets don't permit me to veil.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1920, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()
  • [Working on unifying Iraq:] The credit of European civilization is gone ... How can we, who have managed our own affairs so badly, claim to teach others to manage theirs better?

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1921, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()

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  • Palestine for the Jews has always seemed to us to be an impossible proposition. I don't believe it can be carried out ... to gratify Jewish sentiment you would have to override very conceivable political consideration, including the wishes of the large majority of the population. (letter 1918)

    • ,
    • letter, 1918, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()