Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 20 - March 26, (1919)

Zionist Commission to Palestine – Tel-Aviv, JAFFA, Palestine

Dear Family,-

Sometimes I feel that the whole work here is a hopeless farce – that the Jewish people, after two thousand years at large throughout the world are inherently incapable of returning, and recreating a nation of their own. At present there are perhaps 50, 000 Jews in Palestine. And there is more political discord than in America & England together. And the farce of it is that half of them are either directly or indirectly supported by the Zionist Commission. Often I would like to give the whole thing up. If it weren’t for the thousands of Jews living in Poland and Turkey for whom Zionism is their sole hope, I’m sure I would. Gratitude is a word the meaning of which is unknown to the inhabitants here.

Let me just cite a little instance – I could find hundreds – Some months ago a large quantity of coal was ordered for the people here for their orange groves. The coal was duly ordered by the Z.C from England, and several weeks ago 800 tons arrived at Port Said. One of the merchants – a very rich man who had recommended the purchase, was advised of its arrival. He thought a moment and then said that at present he felt that he could not use any coal but he would buy 35 tons. He had earlier assured the Commission he would purchase at least 500 ton. Of course the Z.C had naively accepted his word and had nothing with which to bind him. Yesterday I called together a committee of the orange-growers. They admitted that they were also responsible for the ordering – they needed a large quantity badly – the price had to be a good one, below market price as the Z.C. was not entitled to make anything on the transaction. I agree that there would be no profit – that all they required would be sold at cost. I mentioned the cost figure ad they refused saying, they could buy as cheaply from the gov’t. – and that my price must be cheaper. Tomorrow I’m going to wire Port Said to sell the entire there.

For the last few days I’ve also been acting secretary to the Z.C. The former, a British lieutenant, has been recalled to England. In that capacity I handle all correspondence etc., etc. and it takes a lot of time. But it’s all rather interesting.

Day before yesterday Dr. F and I went to Jerusalem via an ambulance. We were so shaken up en route that we returned in the evening by train. The trip, however, aside from the physical discomfort and two flat tires and engine trouble, was a beautiful one. Dr De Sola Poole was with us. The Jerusalem neighborhood is interesting country with its barren rock covered hills and the beautiful vistas in all directions as the road climbs higher and higher. Here and there is an occasional dirty Arab house or dainty little Jewish farm. As we passed one little farm patch we saw a camel with his nose disdainfully in the air calmly pulling an ancient plow followed by a little Arab boy.

In Jer. I tried vainly to buy a lot of supplies and building material from the American Red Cross.

On rereading one of your letters I note that you, Amalie, are fearful of my bringing home in June or thereabouts a Palestinian maiden. No fear, if I find her I’ll at least submit her for your approval first! But I believe there is no immediate danger.

No doubt this letter will be delayed in Egypt -

Lots of love,


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