Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 44 - August 06, (1919)

Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge, London, S.W

Dear Family,-

We are all arrived here without mishaps – although we nearly lost several pieces of baggage en route from Paris.

On the way Frankfurter, professor of Law at Harvard, told us at length of the meeting between L.D.B. and Mr. B. which took place the day before. From it all it appears that the latter is very much dissatisfied with things in Palestine, particularly with the narrow military regime guided by disinterested and often prejudiced men. As the various facts were laid before him he finally burst forth with “But what can I do with those damned military men.” They will accept no authority other than the War office. One of them has even demanded that the B. Declaration be withdrawn as unfeasible – to which B. answered that not only would it not be withdrawn but strictly adhered to. And when he was told that the letter addressed to him was circulated throughout Palestine but when his answer was never mentioned or made public he became highly indignant.

Among other things he has given assurances that men favorably inclined to Zionism will shortly be sent to replace the present authorities.

If we will not return before the end of the month I am going to make an effort to get into Germany. I was told by the American Consul in Paris that it is not very difficult, especially thru Holland.

Dr. Ungar, the Azmu dentist who left 9 days before we did from Palestine arrived in Paris one day after. He was on an Italian steamer which broke down somewhere in the Mediterranean. He will be home very shortly now; if you happen to be anywhere near N.Y.C find his address from the Z.C. 55 5th Ave. and meet him please. I’ve given him our address.

Dr. F. has just called me to a meeting. Little Mrs. Fels is here.

Love & kisses


Present Labor Situation (1919)

There are about 60,000 Jews roughly estimated to be in Palestine at present or about 10% of the entire population. That their standard of living is on a considerably higher scale than that of the Arabs is unquestionable. That they are mentally and morally superior to the Arabs is unquestionable. It is therefore obvious that a Jew cannot live on the same wage scale paid Arab labor. His inherent instincts compel him to strive for better conditions, better modes of life.

Today, with the exception of agricultural pursuits such as dairy products, wines & liqueurs, cereals and fruits, there is no demand for skilled labor for industrial use. Arab labor may be had in abundance and such labor is cheaper. The few small industries which flourish here and there are conducted along such primitive and unmodern economic lines that Arabs are entirely satisfactory. When roads are built the rock is crushed by hand. There are hundreds of Jews in Palestine and thousands clamoring for opportunities to enter. For these, work is necessary and imperative. The fate of Zionism hangs in balance within the next few months – the period of rebuilding. Work must be created for them – but real work on a sound economic basis with a sound market. There has been enough exploitation of local Jews by the creation of artificial, constant market for products. Modern industry must be introduced-

Tens of thousands of emigrants are growing impatient at the long delay on the part of the Zionist Commission in allowing them to come in. Thousands are waiting to come in and invest their entire capital in some congenial enterprise. Modern development, up to date trains, up to the minute methods, the latest models in mechanical devices are needed. Men – sound progressive business men must settle here and gather about them organizations capable of supplying work on a large scale and producing for the ever hungry markets here and in Europe.

Building material experts and manufacturers. For five years there has been no building at all. Materials were bought, though prices mounted two and three and even five hundred percent, until no more could be obtained. And with these materials houses were built and paid for. Today there is a growing urgent demand for houses – and few materials have as yet reached Palestine. Indeed the rent of a room is almost prohibitive.

The cement industry has never been attempted tho samples of the necessary ingredients obtainable here have several times been submitted to reliable chemists in Europe who recommended them highly. Before the war the better quality of cement was bought thru agents at Marseilles and when it finally reached the building contractors they paid often 250% to 350% over the manufacturers selling price.

Likewise the red tile used so extensively here for roofing is all imported from France and Italy. There was a small German factory in Jaffa which produced a very satisfactory quality of tile. As yet no effort has been made to raise capital enough to purchase this plant and continue its work.

Lumbar and iron are scarce in Palestine. American lumber export firms might do well by sending an agent immediately to investigate the present and future needs of this country. Pine is always in demand and as soon as the international commercial centers reopen large orders will be forthcoming.

Geographically Palestine is ideally located for a commercial center. On one side is Egypt with its constant demand for all manner of vegetables, fresh fruits and dairy products. On the other side lies Asia Minor with its large supply of raw material. It contains coal – one of Palestine’s gravest needs – it produces grain, cotton, wool. Nearby and accessible now by sea and in a short time we hope by land lies rich India. Italy and Spain and all of the western world are easily accessible.

Palestine’s natural resources are many.


Veg. a large variety of egg plants, radishes, beets, potatoes, squash, onions, almonds.

Cereals rich quality of wheat, barley, sesame, lentils and good animal fodder.

Experiments cotton and tobacco most successful.

Fruits grapes, raisins, oranges, grapefruits, olives, figs, dates.

Exper. bananas and pineapples.

Mineral oil, chemicals, salt, bldg. stone (unlimited)

Animals goats, donkeys, camels, horses, cattle.

The vegetables are good, sound products. The cereals are rich and in great demand in Italy and France. The fruit, easily compare well with our California species, indeed the Jaffa oranges are unrivaled by any in the world. The grapefruit has recently been introduced and gives promise to rival the tastiest of its kind in quality and size. Cotton has adapted itself readily to Palestine’s fertile soil and is certain to be soon a large commercial and industrial factor.

This country’s hidden mineral resources are undoubtedly enormous. Already the Standard Oil Company has seen fit to make large purchases in the region of the Dead Sea. In fact it is rumored that their first wells have disclosed great pools of oil of a peculiarly good variety. In the same region several varieties of chemical salt deposits (e.g. bromides and potassium) are said to be found in great quantity – useless for lack of any transportation. Building stone.

Domestic animals consist mainly of goats, donkeys and camels. The army possesses most of the horses, and the cows were nearly all taken off or killed by the retreating Turks.


Since the war the roads and railways have been somewhat improved first by the Turks and then by the British. Today the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem may be covered I two hours. But as the military authorities are still in possession of the railroads – which at best are insufficient for a country of this size there has arisen a unique situation. Such perishable commodities as foodstuffs are several hundred per cent above normal along the coast. While in Tiberius, for instance, dairy products and vegetables are being sold at a considerable loss.

Until the war the Port of Jaffa had been the import and export center of Palestine. Recently, however, Haifa has been superseding the more southern port. That is geographically better situated is quite obvious. It possesses the only natural; harbor along the entire 150 miles of coast; it has fair inland railway connection, it is about to receive from the hand of the British a large breakwater, which will make direct landing of large vessels possible. In Jaffa all loading and unloading must be done by lighters, as there is no direct approach to the city.

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