Jerusalem (Nov. 2)
(By Our Palestine Correspondent, Dr. Wolfgang von Wiesel)
Times have changed considerably since the days when Davis Trietsch, in his handbook on Palestine, had to advise Jews who desired to go to Palestine but were afraid of being ridiculed, to take a pleasure trip to Egypt…
Palestine has come into vogue; books are writen about it and trips made there.
I have read three books which have appeared here recently, on the subject of Palestine: “L’an Prochain a Jerusalem”, written by Tharaud brothers with the friendly assistance of De Haan; “Les Amants de Sion”, by Miriarn Harry; and Cook’s “Travellers Handbook for Palestine and Syria”.
The brothers Tharaud are very skeptical of the success of Zionism and see nothing but dismal failure in store for the Palestine work; they say that the wealthy Jews are not interested in Palestine and the Chalutzim are soon disillusioned and will abandon the difficult work which they are unable to endure. (The supersensitive Zionists decry this book as anti-Semitic; but this is not true. It is a pessimistic book, and certainly we must concede everyone the right to be pessimistic. The arguments in the book are one-sided but on the whole they are correct.)
In contrast to this pessimistic book is the volume of Miriam Harry, a converted Jewess, who was born in Jerusalem and who, now, after many years of absence has gone back to Palestine to see what the Zionists have accomplished there. I was astonished in perusing this book to note the extraordinary enthusiasm and love for Palestine on the part of Miss Harry, who was brought up in a Protestant missionary school. Miss Harry is not only enthusiastic, she is permeated with a fanatical ecstasy for Palestine. She does not discuss the English administration, the Arab question, the Vatican; she simply overflowes with sentimental affection for everything Jewish, for the Chaluzim, Tel-Aviv, Horan, the lake of Tiberias, and the Palestine skies.
Equally interesting is the book of the famous travel bureau, Thos. Cook and Son. This book, which has the approval of the Governor of Jerusalem, is distinguished by the fact that it takes no cognizance of the existence of the Jews; it seems to be unaware that there are Jews in this world, particularly in Palestine, or else it simply ignores this fact. I took the pains to look through the entire book and checked up all parts where mention of Jews is made and the result was astounding, fantastical, I might say. In the introduction to Cook’s “Travellers Handbook for Palestine and Syria” no mention is made of the fact that Palestine is in process of becoming the National Homehand of the Jewish people. The travel routes given in the book do not contain the name of one Jewish colony as being worthy of a visit and if one were to follow Cook’s directions the only thing of Jewish interest seen would be the Wailing Wall. Everything the Jews have accomplished and created is completely ignored: the Hebrew University, the Gymnasium, Bezalel Institute, National Fund, the Agricultural Museum, the Zionist Executive, etc.
One of the most remarkable things in the book is the chapter on “The Present Status of Palestine”, which is a part of the historical review. Here we find the Balfour Declaration printed in ten lines, without a single word of comment or explanation about Zionism or the Jewish Agency! Likewise remarkable and highly amusing for their evidence of ignorance and perversion are the references to religious beliefs and customs among the Jews in Palestine.
The book of Thos. Cook & Son is symptomatic of the quiet but effective hostility to Zionism which prevails in certain quarters. Nor should we overlook its importance. Cook & Son form the opinions of their travellers-and the travellers influence the opinion of the public on the subject of Palestine.