Pride, dignity, strength, an end to wailing and cringing. A united world Jewry as an actuality rather than a mere catch-phrase. A Palestine serving the three-fold purpose of offering victims of hatred a place of sanctuary; of proving that Jews can build as well as enjoy the fruits of others’ labors; and of giving them a national voice among nations.
These concepts contain within them the solution of the Jewish problem, in the opinion of William B. Ziff, thirty-six-year-old magazine publisher and advertising man who within the past year has transferred his business activities from Chicago to New York City.
Ziff returned in the spring from a three months’ exploration trip in the jungles of the Republic of Honduras, in Central America. He went there in a search of adventure, surcease from the ease and luxury of civilization, and a legendary lost city. The lost city eluded him but he achieved his other two aims.
“Listen,” he said, “if you don’t think Nazism is a husky, thriving business, let me tell you about a little experience I had in Honduras.
HEARS NAZI IN JUNGLES
“We were cutting our way through an almost impenetrable jungleâ€”the kind of stuff that holds you down to about a mile and a half a day, with three machete wielders traveling in front of you.
“We hadn’t seen another white man for days. We were nearly two weeks’ march from anything so civilized as a dentist, or a post office.
“Suddenly we came out into a clearing. There, in rapt, open-mouthed attention, stood a bunch of natives. In their midst was a white man, addressing them with oratorical fervor in their own language.
“The white man was doing what is known as cruising for banana land. The banana is a voracious plant and exhausts its soil rapidly. These banana land cruisers go into the jungle and prospect for new territory suited to banana planting.
“This man was a German, highly intelligent and glib of tongue. He was talking to the natives about the glories of Nazism. He was loaded down with enough Nazi literature to sink a fair-sized ship. How or where he’d gotten it I have no idea. In a conversation with me he referred to the President of the United States as ‘the Jew Rooseveltâ€”his name used to be Rosenfeld.’
“What was oddest of all, this German preaching Hitlerism in the depths of the Honduran jungles to naked natives was an ex-Communist.”
SAW WAR SERVICE
Ziff’s background is not of the sort which ordinarily would imbue a person with deep concern regarding the Jewish problem. His father is an Illinois farmer of Spanish Jewish descent. Ziff grew up in surroundings which were almost entirely non-Jewish.
When the United States entered the World War the nineteen-year-old youth enlisted in the air forces and served for a year as an aviator. Flying has remained one of his principal interests and he publishes Popular Aviation, a monthly periodical.
Ziff achieved some national note when he stumped the country with Brigadier-General William Mitchell while the army man was carrying on a fight for a United States air force separate from the other branches of service.
Chicago, where the young publisher resided until six months ago and which is still the headquarters of his firm, is familiar with his name and his dynamic personality.
He was one of the most active members of the Inter-racial Council in the Midwest metropolis and participated to some extent in politics, making an almost-successful campaign for Congress as a liberal Republican a couple of years ago.
He is the national advertising representative for many Afro-American and foreign language newspapers throughout the country and is on particularly friendly terms with outstanding members of the Negro race.
His wife, blonde and Nordic in appearance, is the daughter of a Protestant minister. She has embraced the Jewish religion. Their three children have dark hair and skin, like their father.
Mrs. Ziff and the children are leaving for Europe next month on the first leg of a trip whose eventual destination is to be Palestine. Mrs. Ziff hopes to spend a year in the Holy Land, studying the country’s present development and future possibilities, while the children learn to speak Hebrew.
Ziff himself is enthusiastic about Palestine.
“What could be a finer inspiration to the Jews of the world,” he asks, “than to be able to point to a nation in which their fellow Jews are living independent lives, free from restraint, while they carry on their industrial and cultural pursuits with dignity, pride and strength?”