Friday, August 03, 2012

Will Durant: Palestine, 1930

Would you see with your own eyes the transformation wrought throughout Palestine by the enterprise of these [Jewish] immigrants? Enter at stormy Haifa, and ride by the modern railway from the port to the capital. Look out at Benjamina, at Richon, at Kudeirah, at Peta-Tikva, and see the once arid fields flourishing; note the great orange-groves in the hinterland of Jaffa; and at Tel-Aviv observe a new Jewish city risen in a decade out of the sand. Alongside the individual Arab peasant tillling the earth primitively with camel and plough rise the Jewish co-operative farms, uniting to finance new methods, new machinery, agricultural experiment stations, and agricultural schools...Of the arable land ninety-three percent is owned by Arabs, who will not sell to Jews, or will sell only at twice or thrice the price asked of good Mohammedans. How can an Arab love a Jew when the Jewish farmer, though city-bred, given to letters, and completely unfitted for the rural life, produces four to five times as much per acre as the Arab coaxes from his soil? How can the Arab look with content on the groves that have made a Jaffa orange the noblest work of God? 

 Add to this the hospitals and dispensaries, the schools and the university which the immigrants have brought to Palestine with unforgivable initiative. The Jews are too brilliant to remain content with farming; their active minds demand commerce, industry and urban variety as a vital need...they organized labor, and won shorter hours and higher wages for Jewish and Arab workers alike...They found a country without reliable water to drink, with typhoid, dysentery, malaria, and eye-diseases rampant; they drained the swamps, cleared and extended the water-supply, brought malaria and trachoma under control, established public sanitation, and opened these services to all They built and operated their own schools, and at the same time paid heavy taxes for the maintenance of the public shcools in which Britain is educating the Arabs... 

 But because of these very achievements, the racial problem - if we may loosely speak of a racial problem between peoples who are all of one race, Semitic brothers in origin and blood - had become more dangerous than before. The growth and success of the Jews inflamed the Arabs with a jealous rage...They resolved to put the matter to the ordeal of blood. 

 On August 14, 1929, 10,000 Jews arrived in Jerusalem to gather at the Wailing Wall the next day and mourn together the destruction of the Temple. Arab leaders spread throughout Palestine the word that Jews had killed Arabs in the Arabs swept down upon the Jews at the Wailing Wall, and slew scores of praying women and men...inflamed Arabs slaughtered helpless students in the Hebrew seminary at Hebron and throughout Palestine armed Muslims fell upon unarmed Jews, until there was a total of several hundred Jewish wounded and dead. For four weeks terror ruled.... Who was to blame? They were all to blame, Arabs and British and Jews alike; it would be well if they could accept the guilt together... ...The Effendis who rule the Arab peasant and mulct him religiously would not want him empowered by votes, or instructed by universal education, to demand democracy -

 - Adventures in Genius, Will Durant, Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, 1931, pp. 328-332.

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