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Laura at the work in Saudi Arabia

Laura having lunch infront of Jarral al Lawz (Mountain of Laws where God spoke to Moses)

Laura Sanderson


Laura Sanderson, Israel, posted Feb 16, 2011

Every time I see the countries of the Middle East referred to as just some arbitrary lines drawn on a map by the British I am reminded of the woman, yes, woman who was responsible for those lines.
Her name was Gertrude Bell [b.1868-d.1926] from a wealthy English family, the first woman to read history at Oxford and with a first-class honors degree.
Bell's uncle was a diplomat to Persia and visiting him gave her the opportunity to see the world which she traveled extensively. She visited Jerusalem in 1900 and thus began her long association with Arabs, trekking the desert and archaeological sites, eventually establishing the Iraq Museum in Babylon.
In 1914 Bell was recruited, along with T.E.Lawrence [Lawrence of Arabia] to keep tabs [spy] on the pro-German Ottoman Empire, becoming the first female officer in British military intelligence. By her desert treks she had knowledge of the Tribal Sheiks and learned of their preference for the land based on nothing more than grazing rites for their herds and flocks.
The actual 'lines on paper' were placed there by Bell's knowledge of the tribal needs and based on her surveyor's theodolite as she surveyed the area for British intelligence. She helped to foment a tribal revolt against the Turks by promising the Arabs independent states [grazing lands] at the end of the war.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire Bell was instructed to analyze the colonial administration of Mesopotamia. The resulting White Paper, the first by a woman outlined her vision of the new State of Iraq.
I am not a feminist in the 1970's organizational sense of the word but I do have great respect for women who have led the way in our masculine world.
Without a family fortune and changing times the world was not as open to me. But as a Registered Nurse, specializing in high risk labor and delivery I have been able to work and travel, spending 3 memorable years in hospitals in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I travelled to many places within the Kingdom that few outsiders have seen, from Abha, near Yemen to Tabuk, near Jordan where I saw the mountain Jabel al Laws, purported to be one of the 30 sites of the 'real Mt. Sinai', to Hofuf [mentioned in the Bible] and Al Kharg and Dammam. I enjoyed social events at the US Embassy in Riyadh and the US Consulate in Jeddah, knowing that once I became an American Israeli I could never go back to Arab lands....neither by passport nor religion. I was known, not as a Jew but as a 'Protestant', but that's another story...
So that is how the lines got on paper!
This  information came from  the book titled, Gertrude Bell, Queen of the Desert by Georgina Howell. Bell was fluent in Farsi and Arabic – she likes the Sunnis even though she does not care for Islam.
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