Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 35 - June 11, (1919)

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

Dear Family,-

I’m back on the job again after ten hot days in Cairo trying to get people to do things with the temperature around 100ºF in the shade. I finally succeeded in cornering three new Fords costing together £810 or $4550. Also I brought with me 7 real American Underwood typewriters.

My last day there I visited the pyramids, the sphinx, etc., climbing thru the insides of one of the former. It was a colossal structure – the outside is made of stone, about 2 feet square. Inside the passageways are narrow and steep. The guide, with a candle proceeded me. We started ascending the main passage. It was about 4 ft. high and three across. Small hollows have been cut in order to keep from slipping. The angle of the ascent was about this “ / ” steep. We walked for about ten minutes when we arrived at the 1st level, the Queen’s chamber. The guide said we’d rest here, that we were now ¼ way up. I was tempted to go back. But having gone so far I decided to finish. The entire trip took an hour – and my knees almost gave way before we got out. The most interesting room was the one where the old king was found. His coffin still remains. It is a fairly large room built of beautiful granite. One wall is made almost of a single piece. The construction is so ingenious that though the room is in the centre of the pyramid there are cracks leading out to all 4 sides for ventilation.

All afternoon I absorbed ice cream sodas to recover. It was one of the hottest days in Cairo this season.

Coming back to Palestine I met an Egyptian Jew named Ely, one of the richest merchants and manufacturers of cotton good in Alexandria. He is about to open warehouses and stores in Haifa, Jerusalem and in Syria. Naturally I talked Zionism to him and got him very interested. His chief objection was that Palestine is not rich in products for export and could never develop only thru agriculture.

Arriving in Jerusalem I found Dr. Van Vriesland* established with us, working hard at athering information in order to start work as soon as possible. Day before yesterday it was decided that Szold should go to Cairo to see Gen. Clayton, the local chief Political Officer, and Gen. Allenby, in view of the coming Commission of Americans, Szold left.

Yesterday noon I was called by phone from Jaffa and was told that the American Commission had arrived by U.S. cruiser. Dr Friedenwald and I promptly got our auto and drove to Jaffa. We saw the secretary from whom we found out that on the next day some time was being reserved for us. We promptly gave that time to the Vaad Hazmani, which happens to be in session in Jaffa. It appears that the Commission is not the official body originally intended to be sent from the Peace Conference, but an advisory commission to President Wilson.

They intend spending some time in Jerusalem where we shall have ample time to see them.

It is strange that neither Weitzman nor Frankfurter nor Sokolov are here. We have no word from them except that they expected to be on the spot when the Commission arrives.

A message has just come from Dr. Eder in Jaffa that the meeting with the Vaad Hazmani and the Americans “came off” in great style. Tonight there is to be a concert of our music school for them. On Friday they are going to our show colonies Richon le Zion a Rehoboth, and incidentally visit our Agriculture Exhibit, which happens to be in progress.

Enclosed circulars have just been received from the authorities for distribution.

Lots of love,


On my return from Cairo I found four letters from you. One from Father, Mother, Amalie and Katharine.

*Van Vriesland, Dr. Siegfried:- b.Amsterdam 1886 – d.Jerusalem 1939; attorney, Zionist leader in Netherlands & Palestine where he moved in 1918 Manager of Potash Works (Dead Sea) from 1929 – 1938. Director of Tel Aviv Port and served as Dutch Consul.

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