EXPLORE BY MONTH
Sept. 30, 1952
[incompletely entry] the flight from Idlewild, the only indication that this flight was to be over the ocean was the little lecture given by the male steward about the location of the life-saving to bet [sic] on incase the plane had to be ditched and by the silent demonstration put on by the very attractive stewardess as to how it was done. It was also explained that life-rafts were to be [?] and in the forward in the re [?] compartment. Otherwise, aside, furthermore from the suggestion to read the pamphlet “How to Ditch without a Hitch,” which I dutifully read, one [?] ild, as I have already remarked be flying somewhere over the United States of America.
We landed here about half an hour ago at the Shannon airport (Aerport Na Sionna), after having flied for less than half an hour over low, green, beautifully cultivated, comparatively small plots of hedged in farm land. The flight last night was completely uneventful, the skies were clear, the stars out, and and below bands of butts. I was too keyed up from the rush of yesterday to sleep well, and did not take a sleeping pill. About two hours ago, the rosy sheen of dawn appeared in the skies, and we were told that we were nearing Ireland. I had been at Shannon several times during the war, when things were much more hectic at the airport than they are at the present. Ours was the only plane on the apron and the dining rooms at the airport were empty. I sent two air-mail cards, one to Charles and one to [?]vid and little Helen.
As the plane landed several [?]ish stewardesses were waiting, and soon boarded the plane, only to announce that we would remain on ground for a half an hour and the other [?] distribute boarding passes. We landed at 2:45 A.M. Cincinnati time, 8:45 A.M. Shannon time. We have to land in Paris in about [?] hours. We are already above the field. The green, white, and orange Irish flags fluttering in a mild wind, and we’re out of sight of the airport already. When I was here last, I remember that we had to stay overnight, and were put in buses and sent to a nice little hotel in [?] some miles away. If I remember correctly, Helen and Charles stayed over night in [?].
I feel better this morning. I was groggy tired when I got on the plane yesterday afternoon the night didn’t help any. But the few minutes walk in the brac[?] Irish air outside the airport buildings seems completely to have revived. I saw some commemorative stamps for sale, Irish stamps. I was going to buy some for David I., but was told that I would have to buy a whole [?] full of the saints of these commemorative issues. I didn’t purchase.
Now we are above butts again, and there is nothing to be seen. If the rest of the [?] is gong to be run with this same clock-wise efficiency, with the eaving in the dot of the announced time, I shall be most pleasantly surprised, as I have indeed already been most agreeably impressed.
One of the pass is the president of the TWA. I didn’t write get his name, I think. Another man is going to Karachi, India. This plan goes [?] and the normal thing of course for me to have done would be to go on till there, but then I would have gotten involved with the terrible modern xenophobic regulations, which my government tolerates which reduce me therefore as a Jew in Mosle, countries to a second rate American citizenship.
Orly Airfield, Paris, France.
We started off at 1:25 P.M. promptly, but have taxied back. The announcement has just been made that a minor repair has to be made which will take just a moment. I shall have to see what “a moment,” means. The plane has filled up completely here. I had a lengthy conversation with Mr. Ralph S. Damon, the president of the TWA line this morning, who is sitting just behind me. As we were about to start, I turned to him and told him that I had been worried about his TWA business, considering that we had flown from New York City to Paris with less than half a plane full. Of course, I wasn’t shedding any real tears, because I draped myself over two seats last night. I took my shoes off and put on those traveling slippers that Helen gave me several years ago, and which I use for such purposes. I notice, however, that the TWA furnishes a sort of cloth slipper, a pair of which I shoed in my bag to bring home as a souvenir. Mr. Damon is flying to Addis Ababa to go a big hunting game safari with some friends of his, but they are going to do all their shooting with a camera.
This particular plane is called “Star of Indiana,” and flies all the way to Bombay via Rome, Athens, Cairo, Dhaharan, and Karachi. If times were more normal, the easiest thing for me to have done of course, would have been to have flown with it all the way to Cairo. However, it will be no hardship changing planes in Rome and getting the KLM to Lydda, -that is, if this “momentary” delay, which is still continuing, doesn’t make me miss connections. In that case, however, I am sure that other connections can be made, if not tonight, then tomorrow.
The stop-over in the Orly airfield was fairly interesting. There were the typical Frenchmen, with berets and mufflers and cigarettes dangling from their lips, with hair of the somewhat better off slicked back. There was a stunning girl selling perfume, who looked what I think Heddy Lamarr looks like. A little man was cleaning the glass cases in which the perfume bottles were displayed and he did a fifteen minute job in an hour flat. I was fascinated watching him extend out that time. He must have been a professional glass case cleaner. He had his goo and brushes and cloths in a little battered brief case, and did his work with a distinct éclat and flourish, as if he really had a Ph.D. in glass case polishing. I enjoyed watching him and looking at the sales girls, who could speak English and made a nice sale to an American lady. The French girl spoke just a beautiful, limpid French.
Among the people in the waiting room was what I think is a French Foreign Legion Trooper, or he may have been a French paratrooper. A thin, sallow, sun-burnt, saturnine looking chap, with the most marvelous spade beard and ferocious moustache, all done in red.
(We’re off! Whatever the repair was, it only took half an hour, and we’re headed for Zurich now.) (We arrived at Orly airfield at 6:15 A.M. Cincinnati time, and 12:15 P.M. Paris time.)
A break in my butts, and below us could be seen the Rhine River separating Switzerland from Germany, with the airport of Basle showing up.
The French soldier, I just mentioned above, was obviously going somewhere far south, – I should guess to French equatorial Africa. He had a white cork helmet on the chair beside him. He also had a sort of serape like blanket, – which of course does not prove that he was going to the equator. Near him was a queer looking duck, who didn’t seem to be a Frenchman, but looked something like a displaced Norwegian, or now that I come to think of it, looked something like a displaced Pole. He was mouthing his lunch, which consisted of scrambled eggs. The poor fellow, who was in his late twenties or very early thirties, didn’t have a tooth in his mouth. He couldn’t eat any of the lovely, long French bread they had served him. He had a bottle of wine, and must have had money, because I saw that he purchased several packs of Camels, which must be pretty expensive in Paris.
We have had lunch, -typical American airplane lunch, and are now landing at Zurich. It is 3:20 P.M. here. It is 9:20 Cincinnati time.
To get back to the Orly airfield: I noticed that all the ashstands and waste paper baskets were chained in their places, like Barney to the banister when we’re having dinner. It was exciting at Orly listening to the announcements of the destinations of the various planes, to Dakar and Bir Hakim, among others. Here at Zurich, a plane was just announced to take off for Tokyo. It gave me a sort of shiver to hear a plane, Swissair, announced as leaving for Prague, to what is now more or less behind the Iron Curtain. I was curious to see what kind of people were going back to Prague. Most of them so far as I could tell seemed like quite ordinary nice travellers. There were two civilians, who looked like thugs, wore civilian suits like I would wear a ball-dess and had military raincoats. I am sure that they were Villains!
I had stopped off on one of my trips home during the war at Zurich, and sure enough again a little crowd assembled in front of the booth where watches are sold, I guess cheaper than one can buy Swiss watches outside of Switzerland. A brand new, beautiful airport building is almost completed. I have always liked this country, and would like to spend some time here with Helen and Charles Jonathan. I haven’t really been here since my student days in Germany, when I spent most of two summers in Switzerland, one at Sils Maria and the other at Pobontresina, in the Engadin Valley.
We’re off on our way to Rome. The time passed swiftly, and I dozed off a bit, and several hours later we were in Rome, landing here at 6:40 P.M. The airport buildings here are in the process of renovation and repair, but still are in no wise to compare with the wonderful new building now completed almost at Zurich. The officials were very pleasant, and as at Paris and Zurich there were girl orderlies who help the passengers get around and go through the formalities. I had to transfer to a K.L.M. plane, which was to come to another building on the opposite side of what is apparently this large field. Being in transit, and in order to make it a little complicated, a soldier was sent with me and my grip in a dilapidated old car that was an antiquity years ago to the K.L.M. side. I didn’t mind, because I had plenty of time, and didn’t care to chase into town and back, particularly inasmuch as it’s raining.
When I left the TWA side, I asked the girl attendant who was shepherding me around, if I should pay anybody, and she told me not to. In the taxi, they piled in a lot of luggage, only one piece of which belonged to me. When we got here, I found out that the K.L.M. plane was late. It is now 9:30 P.M., and is apparently not to arrive for a couple of hours yet, I don’t mind particularly, la ving long ago learned that there is no use my getting annoyed at such delays or at any attendant inefficiencies. Up to this point, everything has gone very well indeed. And it really doesn’t matter much whether I arrive in Tel Aviv at 5 A.M. or at 10 A.M. tomorrow, or even if I don’t get there till tomorrow afternoon.
A very nice official came up to me on the KLM side, took my ticket and passport again, got them stampey, weighed my suit-case, put a tag on it, and then gave me a card entitling me to a free dinner at the expense of the KLM.
I went into the dining room, was seated with a couple of elderly South African Germans who have lived in Johannesburg for 50 years, and whose son, having graduating as an architect from University of Michigan, is married to an American girl and builds structures for Coca-Cola, among other American concerns in South Africa. They were pleasant enough, and the dinner was quite all right, with vermouth or whatever you wanted for an aperitif, a flagon of red wine on the table, and then everything from hors d’ouvres. The dining filled up with everything from Paris to Othodox Jews, and the so typical British, junior colonial officer or policeman with red sweater, full flushed face, heavy moustache, hearty laugh and vacuous face and virile bibulousness.
The Italian official who took care of me speaks 8 languages, and somehow or other I think he is a Salonica Jew. He told me he was born in Salonica of Italian parents, naturally speaks Greek also, and when he told me he also spoke Spanish and Portuguese, I asked him if he knew Ladino, which as you know is the high, medieval, classical Castilian that many Sephardic, Spanish-Portugese Jews speak throughout the world. I didn’t press the matter.
One forgets, when thinking in the abstract of peoples and countries like France, Italy, etc., that these are fields and houses and bridges and peoples with hungers and hopes, fears and fulfillments, and make up live entities. I find that in spite of the speed of transport I often think of countries as places or spaces on maps. The space I hope to get to tomorrow has become pretty filled up since I saw it last five years ago. I view its being translated again for me into sharp reality with mixture of feelings.
We board the KLM plane, The Flying Dutchman, last night at 10:30 P.M. Rome time last night. It was raining, as it has been ever since we hit Paris. There was a little confusion, it being difficult to find out when the plane was leaving, with no sign boards up in the still incomplete building. Finally, the announcement came that Flight 293 to Lydda was ready, and we boarded the DC6, which was a very comfortable plane, although not as clean, I thought, as the TWA plane. The head-rests were filthy. I was lucky, and found a place in the first row in the rear, where I could stretch my feet out on the opposite facing seat, which was one of the few empty ones. The night passed very swiftly. I slept, woke up about 4, shaved and washed up before the others woke up, -a trick I learned on troop ships. I think almost all of the passengers were Israelis, some returning or others entering for the first time. Naturally, they were all more or less affluent. One couple across the way from me was bringing in a supply of raw meat, which they asked the stewardess to put on ice for them, which she did. I was amused, that among the meat was a large package of ham, which they discussed with the stewardess as to whether or not it required icing. They finally decided to put it on ice too. I refrain, and not from religious reasons, from commenting on the ham, except to say that it indicates what I know to be true that a very large percentage, – I should say the large majority of Israel, does not observe dietary laws, and is by no means orthodox in their religious point of views, if indeed they have one of more than a vague, general nature. However, one thing I am not going to do on this trip is to attempt to act as a missionary of Reform Judaism. The Israelis will have to develop their own forms of religious expression, and I am certain that a type of liberal Judaism will take hold here and perhaps become the preponderant form of Judaism here. The point, however, is that the development will have to be a native one, however much it may be influenced in part by American Reform Judaism in its present day form.
One part of the baggage carried on board the plane, right inside the passenger compartment, were three boxes of young swallows. The steward opened one of the boxes for me, and I could see the little things, quiet and apparently semi-dazed, – as he explained because of the altitude. He was taking them to Israel, opening the boxes and releasing them on behalf of the Dutch Bird Protective Association. It seems that they were too young to accompany the major swallow migrations, and had been left behind. The Dutch bird lovers had picked them up, nursed them along, and were sending them on their way to an advance point by plane. Whether or not the swallow caught up with the main migration, I was unable to find out.
At 6 A.M., we landed in Lydda, and a whole bunch of people were there to meet me, having waited for an hour. The plane was an hour late, having started an hour late from Rome. Among the party awaiting me was David Passow, a former HUC student, who is now publicity director of the Weizmann Institute, Alan M. Feinber, of Detroit, Mich., one of our pre-Rabbinic students, who is getting his B.A. at the Hebrew University, and is particularly interested in archaeology. He is working at Beth-Yerah. There was alos Aviad Yafeh, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tel-Aviv, and Itzhaq Subar, connected with the Bonds for Israel, -both of the latter quite young men, who were present to see what could be done for me.
Lydda itself has changed very little. The airport is crowded, much more so than five years ago, with all kindsof planes coming in and taking off, the restaurant full, and a lot of activity. The entry formalities were settled very expeditiously and efficiently. It gave me an unusual kick to see them write on my form and encircle with a big “nun” a special designation for me. That means “nichbad,” which is the Hebrew equivalent of V.I.P. I don’t mean that I got a kick out of being designated a Jewish V.I.P, but rather that the last time any one had put a special mark on my passport or passport papers was when I last past through Cairo in 1947 or earlier on my way to Jerusalem, the Egyptian officials put a big “J” signifying “Jew” on my entrance paper.
It is going to be hard to get down even in fleeting outline the impressions that have surged in on me since arriving. David Passow had put the Weizmann Institute car at my disposal, with Alan Feinberg driving. From Lydda to Bab el-Wad, the road is completely new to me in its present, paved form. It is the so-called Jewish Burma road, laid out during the War of Liberation. One can for instance now drive practically up to the ancient site of Gezer, which the new road skirts. The scenery is the same, lovely, soft landscape so familiar to me from of old, stretching away in soft undulations to the mountains of Judah in the distance. New settlements, Yemenite men and women and children as well as others waiting for busses, Jewish soldiers, a cannon being drawn along on its mechanized caisson, the police-posts manned by Jewish soldiers with Jewish sentries on duty outside, bare hillsides terraced or being terraced anew, all kinds of new buildings from a new cement factory to many others, evidence of new afforestation and then finally in sendup the familiar Bab el-Wad, past iriath Anavim, lifta – no longer a den of tough Arab villagers but a Jewish settlement, which too may be pretty tough for all I know, -, picked up a sweet Yeemenite couple and brought them in with us, and finally Jerusalem, and familiar Jaffa road. Not too much has changed there, and then at the Kind David Hotel, with the beautiful Y.M.C.A opposite it.
I’m ensconced in a $24 a day suite facing the old city and a large stretch of the old city wall. It is breath-takingly beautiful. And yet, just a few hundreds of yards away, invisible, is the line of no-man’s land, which Jews and Arabs and others may not pass over, cutting this marvelous city into two sections. I glimpsed a section of this no-man’s land today. Right behind Barclay’s bank and the old Post office, where the French hospital begins, and the road starts the rather steep descent down towards Damascus Gate, is a massive heap of rubble, fallen building blocks, twisted girders, extending between the ruins of the large stone hospital and ecclesiastical buildings on either side of the road, and apparently extending down to near Damascus gate. There must have been an awful lot of shelling to reduce those huge buildings made of Jerusalem limestone to the skeleton forms now visible. We called on Professor Dinaburge, who heads the Ministry of Education which is located in the former Evelyna de Rothschild School. That place, I am told, was also in shambles, but has now been cleaned up and repainted, and the garden is more beautiful than ever. The garden of the Kind David Hotel is terrific. They certainly take wonderful care of it. The royal palms seem to have grown mighty tall, and there are beds of brilliantly hued flowers. I haven’t had a chance to get down into the garden yet. All this just glimpsed from my terrace on the third floor.
The day has passed in a series of conferences and interviews and visits. Now, that I have become an official Jew, or a representative of an official Jewish institution, I find that there are various formalities that must be performed. I called on Beryl Locker, the head of the Jewish Agency, who told me some very interesting stories about the early days of the struggle with Great Britain. I had lunch with Ayraham (Berguan) Biran, now the Officer in charge of the Jerusalem District, who occupies the office and has the same district that Keith Roach used to have. It is an important office, indicated by the fact perhaps that he has his own car assigned to him. He took me to the Eden Hotel, run by the same familiar old management, jammed to the gills with people eating tourist or official dinners. Avram had some kind of coupons, and they brought out a huge lunch, which I was completely unable to consume. It was food, heavy, and far too much.
It was obviously the heavy artillery kind of lunch that is brought out for VIP’s. To continue with Bergman, he called for me at 7 P.M. to take me to his house to see Ruth and their three children, the eldest being about 14 and the youngest about 4, with a girl in between. He has quite a nice apartment in Rahavia, and tells me that were it not for the packages he gets from Ruth’s family in America, it would be hard to get along. Or rather he said, people do get along, but the packages make the difference between unrelieved austerity and some comfort. I am sure that Ruth’s meals at home can’t compare in quantity or kind with the meals that Avraham commands as an important police official. I gave Ruth a pair of nylon stockings.
I met Julia Dushkin in the Agency building. She looks fine, and wants me to come to dinner tomorrow, that is Friday night. Lowdermilk is to be there. I don’t know yet whether or not I can make it.
When I got back from Lundi, I had to lie down, not really having slept much for the previous three nights, having spent Monday night flying to New York and taking a long walk on 5th Ave. before I went to bed at about 2:30 P.M. to get up at & [sic] A.M, and having spent the next two nights and the intervening day in planes en-route. I was pooped. I got about an hour’s sleep in, before the phone began to ring, and people came in to see me. At 5:30 P.M. I called up Harry Viteles, and went over and had tea with him, and also saw Shifra Gur who lives upstairs. Amihudis in Australia on some government forestry mission, their boy is in America studying forestry, and their girl is growing up. Harry is the same as ever. I can’t say more. Kurt Greenwald was coming in just as I came out. Esther is visiting her family in America.
I forgot to say that after lunch, I had Avram Bergman take me over to Beatrice Magnes’s on the chance that she would be home. She was, and was really happy to see me. She had just been about to take a nap. I had shoved one of those scarves you gave me in my pocket, and gave it to her. She loved it. She was never in better form than this noon. I shall write about the other Magneses when I see them.
This evening, I was at Maisler’s for dinner. The Delougaz’s (Jews) of the University of Chicago were there, Mrs. Maisler, and his son Uri, a University student, and his week-old bride. Apparently, the young married couple is living with the Maislers. The dinner at the Maislers was more of the kind that one would expect, – a bit of fish, some kusa vegetable and potatoes, and desert of fresh, cut up figs. There was bread and tea, -no jam, butter or anything like that. Either I shall get thin or fat here. I think I’m going to get thin.
After supper, Professor and Mrs. Schwabe, Dr. and Mrs. Yeiving, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Zevi, and Emanuel Ben Dor came in, and we spent the evening talking. O yes, there was also Fischel, of the University of California, who used to be here. He has a beard that looks like L.A. Mayer’s, who, I gather is on one of his visits to England.
I guess I’ll go back to bed. It is 5 in the morning, Friday morning. Some nasty mosquitos woke me up, so I thought I would jot down some of these impressions and descriptions of meetings for you.
There was a full moon last night, and the view onto the walls of Old Jerusalem from my suite was wonderful. It is hard to realize that a line of no-man’s land of rubble and barbed wire separated the two sections of the city, and one feels that it is a condition that must pass soon, although it has lasted 4 years now. I think it doesn’t bother Jewish Jerusalem too much, which is bustling and thriving more than I have ever seen it.
Yesterday was such a hectic day, that it is a little difficult to remember the sequence of its events. It was hot again. It seems that I have run into a hamsin, which is obviously still continuing today. I started the day with an interview broadcast on the Qol Yisrael, which took place at the same building the PBC used to be located in on Queen Melisande Ave. That Maisel boy, whose father I used to know, and whom I always thought was a converted Viennese Jew had called me and asked me if I would broadcast, -which I agreed to do. From there I drove to the American Consulate, to call on Roger Tyler, the Consul General, and on John Rhodes, the cultural attaché, who used to be music critic on the Cincinnati Enquirer. I walked to the hotel then, just about in time for a press conference. There were about 20 newspaper men there from the various Hebrew and foreign newspapers, and for over an hour, they asked questions, some of which had to do with archaeology, and the others of which had to do with religious questions, and my role as head of the College and my interest in Reform Judaism in Israel. I gathered from everything that was said, that Louis Feinkelstein left a very bad taste in the country, and all the people I meet say that he came here with a publicity staff for the sake of publicity. I guess he is smarter than I. I had to be wary about the religious fight here. I told them that I had not come as a missionary of Reform Judaism, and that this country would have to develop its own expressions of Judaism. I did reply to the question as the whether there was room for Reform Judaism in this country by saying that Judaism has always contained within itself various streams of expression, as exemplified by the schools of Hillel and Shammai, and that no other form of religious expression could make itself dominant over the others.
I then had a bit of bad lunch at the King David, which I simply couldn’t eat. The meat was too tough to chew, so I just sort of drank tea and skipped eating. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have put a car at my disposal, so after lunch, and after having seen Avrahamski, the secretary of the Israel Archaeological Society again, I drove off to Rehovot to pay my respects to Mrs. Weizman, and to see if I could talk to Dr. Weizman. arriving in Rehovot, I first stopped off at the very attractive house of David Passow, whom we kicked out of College 4 years ago, and who is now the Director of Publicity and Public Relations of the Weizman Institute, and is a distinct power in the land. His wife Aviva was there. They have three children now, two of whom I saw. The Passows seem to bear me no ill will, for his having been kicked out of the College. Some specious financial transaction was the cause at the time.
The White House has a sentry at the entrance to the grain [?] ds. known previously, and who is a sort of housekeeper [?] then on I had opened the door. Mrs. Weizmann and Dr. Bloch, the acting head of the Weizmann Institute were there, and we had a very pleasant tea in the wonderful house, which had the latest modern equipment. They turned the air conditioning on while I was there. Hadassah Samuel walked in, having driven up from Jerusalem to spend the weekend there. Her two sons are in Israel now. One is a chemist, is married to a South African girl, and has a baby, and is working at the Weizmann Institute, and the other is working with Shell at Haifa. I couldn’t quite gather from Hadassah where Nebi was. I gather that things are cooly the same between them.
I left at about 5:30 P.M., and we drove back to Jerusalem, stopping to pick up a couple of kids hiking with rucksacks on their backs, whom we dropped off at some point en-route. I got back to the hotel, changed shirts after washing up, and then drove over to the Dushkins at 56 Ben Maimon Road. It was a most pleasant evening there, Hag Succoth, with Roger Tyler, the American Consul General, and his wife, the Lowdermilks, who is on a loan to the Israel Government, and is supervising the preparation of a 100,000 dunam tract of land for settlement. That is, terracing, contouring, and all of that is being done, before the land is settled. He is now connected with the United Nations conservation section, and is on loan to Israel. He will remain here another year. The Dushkin’s youngest daughter, Avima is here, having spent two years in the Israeli army as a captain. A new law has now been passed, requiring two and a half years of army service, and a political fight is raging as to whether the Orthodox girls can be made to serve. I think the Government is going to win out, and the Orthodox girls will serve.
I left at about 11 o’clock, and got to be about 12, and slept the sleep of the exhausted until about 11 this morning. It is the first night I have slept through since getting to New York the night of Sept. 30. In a little while, I am going to Gershon Agron’s house for lunch. He and Ethel dropped in at Dushkin’s house last night. Dushkin is in charge of the Government Department of Education, under the Ministry of Education which is leaded by Dinaburge, who I called on the other day. Or more correctly, Dushkin is the professor of Education at the Hebrew University, which is establishing various schools of education for supervisors, etc. in addition to their regular work. Everything here is complicated by party life, and every party is trying to have and keep its own system and schools of education, and gradually the government is trying to break that down, and establish one general system. It appears that gradually, a unified system of education will be worked out. Much of the salvation of Israel depends upon the breaking down of the terrific party lines which rip the country into vertical sections.
One of the things that impressed me while travelling to and from Rehovth was the large number of young people in army uniform, and the considerable movement of open lorries carrying troops. To be sure, it looked as if most of them were being transported to places where they might be able to be at home for the Sukkoth Festival, and seemed to be in a holiday mood. Be that as it may, it is apparent that the army must occupy an exceedingly important in the life of the people. Budget-arily, it must occupy a tremendous part, and is apparently a burden that the people of Israel is going to have to bear even if the ferocious enmity of the Arabs should be allayed and some kind of real peace be restored.
Yigael Yadin who was to have given the second address tomorrow night following mine has been sent abroad on some mission, I learn, and will not be present. I called on his father, Prof. E. Sukenik this afternoon, who is just recovering from a very severe heart attack, and is a hollow shell of his former self. He had a stroke at the same time, and couldn’t even speak for three months. He can now move about. His second son was present, who is a prominent actor. Mrs. Sukenik was also there, and seemed more cheerful than I had previously remembered her. Maybe repressed wives come into their own when their overbearing husbands get strokes or heart attacks. He always used to keep her very much in the background. We had a pleasant conversation, and I shall call on him again when I return. He has some of those ‘Ain Feshka scrolls in his house, and I would like to see them. Louis Rabinowitz gave him $50,000 for publication and general archaeological purposes, after first asking me whether he should or not. I heartily endorsed Sukenik’s projects, whereupon Louis shelled out the money. I wonder if Sukenik would have done the same for me if the roles had been reversed and Louis were asking Sukenik whether or not he should give money to me. Alec Dushkin came in with me. He and Julia and their daughter Avima (?) [sic] had been with me at Gershon Agron (sky)’s house for lunch, where the Agron youngest daughter was also present. She is married to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army, and apparently he is now on border duty, which is always marked by trouble of a minor character, – that is apparently a regular number of killings each month by marauding Arab bands, with the army taking energetic retaliatory measures.
Gershon’s house is the same as it has always been. I say that, because a lot of people like the Viteles and Hurwitz’s have given up for economy or reasons parts of their houses or apartments. The city is extending itself westward beyond the Agron house.
I also dropped in on Johnnie and Havah Magnes. They live in the same little house they always did, with road in front of it now having been paved. Their two children are of course so grown up in the last five years, that I would never have recognized them. The girl is quite tall, and the boy old enough to play outside by himself. Havah is still a beautiful girl. She had a bad tooth when I came in, – something the matter with the root, and was taking a violet (?) [sic] treatment. Johnnie is still working with Geiger, who as Rose Viteles told us may be going to America next year with Ruth. I haven’t seen the Geigers yet.
I have given a scarf to Beatrice Magnes, a pair of nylon stockings, each to Ruth Bergman Biran, Julia Dushkin, Ethel Agron, and to pair to give to Havah Magnes, and one pair to Noral Magnes, which I left with Havah to give to Norah. I shall give Norah another pair. Inna Pommerantz and Leo are coming over to the hotel to see me, and I shall give her two pair, and one pair for Mrs. Rachelewitz. Rachmi is in South America. Dr. Zondek is also out of the country, at some conference or another.
After leaving Johnnie and Havah Magnes, I took a most melancholy walk around my old haunts. I walked down past the Italian hospital, which is empty, and is badly shell and shot marked with some of its walls fallen down. It could however, be repaired. One can walk down the road in front of it, leading past Meah Shearim and past the shell gas station to a point about as far as the old Larson house, before being stopped by masses of rubble and wire, from which an evil smell emanates.
Emanates. Beyond, not far from the corner, where one turns to the right to get to St. George’s Cathedral and makes a left turn to get to the turn to the right leading into the Saladin Road, on which the American School of Oriental Research is situated. I could make out an Arab Legion sentry pacing to and fro. I turned back then, and turned eastward down the little street which leads past the Shell gas station, which is also shot up, and is now boarded up. The Greek Catholic church next to it on the N side is badly shot up and is also boarded up, with a sign in Hebrew on it: In the Care of the Department of Religion, Israel. Continuing down the little road E of the Shell station, one comes to a mass of rubble and some empty shotup houses just before the beginning of the first empty compound that one had to cross to get over to the American school. This district is filled with apparently Persian or North African Jews, who have filled every crevice with the products of their astounding fecundity.
I circled back, and went down Musrara road, to the point not far from where Dr. Canaan’s house used to be, and there again one is stopped by a mass of rubble and broken houses and barbed wire, beyond which no one passes. From a clear point on this road, I could look across to the approximate point of intersection of roads in front of Damascus Gate, see much of the wall of the Old City leading to Damascus Gate, and see Arabs walking up and down the road leading to the West from it. I then circled back again, and came out on the road leading past the site of the former prison to the point where is comes out behind Barclay’s bank. There again is a mass of rubble, blocking the road descending steeply down to Damascus Gate. The French hospital and the building opposite, as I have previously mentioned, are shell shot ruins, with parts of the walls torn away. I was reminded this afternoon, while looking at these buildings, of the way in which in previous centuries, whole cities were destroyed completely or partially by war, with the populations killed off or abandoning them, and gradually falling to pieces in the course of time. Here, I said to myself, in future generations, if these ruins aren’t repaired or cleared away, some of my future archaeological colleagues will dig and discover remains of the turbulent 20th century.
I then turned down lower Jaffa road, which is blocked by great half-width cement walls blocking easy access to the street, and alternating from one side of the street to the other like dragon’s teeth. Every little shop had been turned into a dwelling place, one of them being a synagogue. One can go about half way down the street, till one reaches a point where that old photograph shop used to be, and where the office of the American Express Company used to be. There again, the entire street is filled with ruins of building and with rubble. There was a sign there reading that this was the boundary, and that it was dangerous to try to cross it.
I got back to the hotel pretty heavy hearted. The areas immediately adjacent to this line of no-man’s land have become Jewish slum areas. Hordes of children play next to the ruins. There are bad sewage smells, because obviously seweres that ran through one street cannot suddenly be made to run in different directions, with the result that they apparently do not function, or function hardly at all. I must ask about how this aspect of life in modern Jerusalem is taken care of.
The streets around the Zion Cinema are as crowded as ever, only more so. I was impressed with mainly one thing, namely that this entire area has been taken over by Moroccan and Iraqui and related types of Jews.
Almost all of the young men and women, and this seems to be the predominant age, were very dark skinned indeed, and back home would be taken for Porto Ricans so far as their skin hue is concerned.
Then back to the King David Hotel, with its comparatively wealthy tourists and its native rich Jewish frequenters. Still, the hotel hasn’t got the same life it had before, but functions fairly efficiently, it seems to me.
Tomorrow morning, I am off for Tel Aviv. I have a luncheon appointment with Eban, and an afternoon appointment with Ben Gurion, and am then going to Beth Yerah for the archaeological congress. I haven’t made plans yet as to what I shall do after that.
Inna Pommerantz and her husband are coming over to see me at the hotel in a little while. I purposely did not go out tonight. I had supper sent up to my room, so that I could catch up on this diary, pack, so that I can leave at 9 tomorrow morning, when the Government car is coming for me. I also must look over the talk I am to give in Hebrew tomorrow night at the Archaeological congress. I haven’t given a Hebrew address for a long time, but I don’t think that I shall have too much difficulty in making myself clear. I shall leave some of my clothes here at the hotel, because there is no use dragging them with me. It promises to be quite warm in the Jordan Valley, and I won’t need as many clothes as I have with me, although I only had one suitcase full. I also brought some extra stuff to leave behind when I get ready to return home to Cincinnati.
Boy, what a day! I am rushing around so fast, that I find it difficult to get to sleep at night time, or rather after I have finally gotten to bed completely exhausted, I wake up after an hour all ready to go again, and find it hard to get sleep, so I read till the wee hours of the morning.
This morning, I paid my bill at the King David for three days, with lunch and breakfast included, and was almost knocked over when I got the bill. In the first place, all tourists who stay at the King David must pay in dollars; secondly, they must buy a hundred pounds, for which they pay $140, and if any of the pounds in the form of a letter of credit are left over, they are returned in dollars when leaving the country. I had taken a suite, that is a bed-room and sitting such as I take at the Plaza, when I want to receive the press or meet a lot of people. I thought they had told me the suite would cost $24 a day. Well, with this and that added, I found that I payed about $120 for three days. At that rate, I can’t afford to stay in the country and take suites. I shall have to wangle something, which I think I can, so that I can pay my bills in the blocked Israeli pounds, which the Mosad Bialik owes me.
The Government cancelled for me at 9 A.M., and I started off for Tell Aviv. Before that, however, I had decided to confirm my Oct. 30 departure date on the TWA and went to the TWA office in the King David Hotel to see if they could do it for me. They said that the Tel Aviv office was the place to get it fixed. I have decided to keep the Oct. 30 departure date, which means that I shall be in New York City the same day. I love being here, and it is one constant thrill after another, but somehow or other I can’t really enjoy being away without you any longer. I got to Tel Aviv and went to the Government Public Information Office, where I had a date to meet that former student of the College’s, David Passow, who, I believe, I have previously indicates as being with the Weizman Institute now. When I walked in, Feigel Braude yelled at me. She and Baruch and their little daughter live at Berteliah now, and she still works for Reuters. I was interviewed by Moshe Brilliant, a N.Y. Times man, and made an appointment to meet the Christian Science reporter in Jerusalem next week. He is a Jew, speaks with an accent, but got into the Hadhramaut with Wendell Philips and Albright last year. He says the American Minister knew he was Jewish. More power to that particular minister. He was not, however, able to get into Yemen.
I had a luncheon appointment with Aubrey Eban at the Ambassador Restaurant, which is a small and by no means elegant place on the second floor of the Central Hotel on the corner of Trumpeldor Street facing the sea. We had a very nice lunch, a diplomatic one, which means that we got better food, and he and I discussed all manner of things. I then left to keep an appointment with Ben Gurion at the Sharon Hotel in Herteliah at 3 P.M. In fact, Eban knew about it, and asked me if I remembered that I had the appointment. I got there in time for the appointment, which was put between 3-3:15 P.M., only to be startled to see just before my car go to the Hotel, his car cavalcade, with him in one of the cars leaving in the direction of Tell Aviv. Boy, I was sore. I am still awaiting an explanation. I know that an hour or so previously, they arrested a chap who was armed and seemed to want to shoot Ben Gurion
So I drove on to Beth-Yerah via Beisan. I took with me a movie photographer, to make some pictures of part of my trip. I am to pay for the pictures by sending film in exchange when I get back home. The whole country is just bursting with new settlements, new towns, new forests and endless numbers of people. Every bust stop, and at numerous points along the roads, people are waiting for lifts. There simply does not seem to be enough cars and trucks to handle everybody. The country makes a strong, virile, creative impression, however.
The ride from Beth-Shan, which is now completely Jewish, along the west side of the Jordan valley was beautiful beyond words. It hurt me a little to be able to look over on to the east side of the Jordan and know that I couldn’t get over there, but on the other hand I was very grateful that I had all of the exploration of that part of the country behind me. As a matter of fact, I am filled with a sense of deep gratitude that fortune of a wonderful kind enabled me to do that archaeological survey of Transjordan when I did it. I am beginning to feel now, that I might not have the energy or endurance at this stage of the game to do that kind of thing on the same comparatively primitive scale again.
I got here about 6:30 P.M., and was astounded by what I saw. A most wonderful little building and a separated dining hall capable of holding several hundred people have been built directly on top of a previously excavated section of Beth-yerah. The buildings directly overlook the Lake of Galilee. The interest of the people of Israel in anything and everything scientific is absolutely amazing. A platform had been erected hout in the lawn between the two buildings, and there was a group of more than 500 people, that had come from all corners of the land to participate in this archaeological congress. Maisler made, a speech, extremely attractive young general, Moshe Dayyan, who has had one eye shot out, made a speech, and then I gave a talk of about three quarters of an hour in length in Hebrew on the Jordan Valley. I am afraid I was far from my best. I had intended reading the talk, but after seeing Maisler read his, I decided not to. I misjudged the audience. They are hungry for the detailed kin of facts that can come only from a detailed paper, such as I had had ready, and they would have listened for hours. However, that’s that. I shall remain here the rest of the week, and then go back to Jerusalem for a day or two, before trying to get down to Elath. There is a wonderful HUC pre-rabbinic student, Alan Feineberg, here, who really half runs the place.
Yeivin, Maisler, Pinkerfeld, Stekeles, Sahalem, Dr. Hirshber, oldman Slousch, almost every Jew in the country who is interested in archaeology is here. We are really a wonderful people.
The moon was out over the Lake of Galilee last night, and it was wonderful to behold.
These paragraphs are jumpy, because there are long interruptions between them. This morning, we had breakfast in Dagania B, and looked at the French tank which the Iraqis has, -one of three with which they had advanced to the very entrance of Dagania B. A Molotov cocktail caught this particular tank, and the other two turned tail and ran, and the colony was saved from destruction.
I have been getting some idea of the complexity of problems which concerns these colonies and the entire population. There is a wide and deep cultural and even physical gulf between the Oriental, dark pigmented new immigrants, who now constitute at least half of the population, and have by and large not come here because of any idealistic convictions. The collective idea is also subject to objective examination now by the young colonists who have been raised in the colonies, because they all go to the army for two years, and have a chance to review their past lives, and decide what they want to do in the future. A certain small percentage, I understand decides not to return to the collective life of the colonies, but the largest percentage does return.
I have noticed that the lack of all the necessary foods seems to be having an effect even upon members of the colonies. There certainly is no insufficiency of food to keep one alive, but I doubt whether they are getting enough to meet the strain of the kind of life they lead. The people seem to me to be overdrawn and strained and fine-tempered, too much so. They just don’t get anywhere near as much milk and eggs and meat and other necessary things as we do at home, and this is even more true in the cities. I have been eating in army messes now for the last week, and the food is almost all pure starch, with salad and fruit in season, but not too much of it. The orange and grape fruit juice that used to be present in great quantities is now conspicuous by its general absence. Even at the King David Hotel a watered down orange juice is served at breakfast, that I would not even look at if I were at home.
In spite of everything, however, there is the intense feeling of creativity here, and given half a fair chance of peace, this wonderful community will work its way out. It is the most creative community in the entire Near East, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it represents the keystone of any possible structure for security and peace in this most strategic part of the world.
It is more difficult than ever for the people of Israel to get reading materials from abroad because they simply do not possess the foreign exchange with which to purchase it. When I get home, I am going to try to do something to get a gift of a hundred or so tons of paper for the Mead Bialik and for the University.
I had dropped in the morning and visited Mr. Gordon in his office, and gotten from him 200 pounds Israel from my royalty balance. I am going to get some more next week. I dropped into Marein’s Gift and Antiquity Shop near the Vienna Café, and put aside a number of things which I shall pick up later, and which will take up much of the balance of my royalties. They are going to be expensive, but as long as the pounds are available, and cannot be translated into dollars, I am paying my hotel and living expenses here and will buy some things with some of these pounds, which on the black market are worth about 50 cents to the dollar. And in reckoning his prices, Mr. Klein figures that the pound is worth just that, and not the legal exchange rate of $1.40 to the Israeli pound, which I had to pay at the Hotel King David.
After the reception was over at Gordon’s house, I dropped in at the Viteles’s for a bite of supper. Mr. Hurwitz came over, and with him a son of that beautiful police dog he used to have. Also present were two young men, one the son of the Bavlis, who used to live near the ASOR, and was about to be born when Mrs. Bavli at the beginning of the riots in 1929 sought refuge at the ASOR and was denied entrance by McCown. The other was a brilliant young writer, Ilon (?) [sic] I think is his name, who has written, I am told, a brilliant book about the War of Liberation. I went back to the Eden Hotel then, quite tired. In fact, I was so wound up from seeing and talking to so many people during the day, that I took a second, and slept soundly until early this morning.
This morning at 8, my driver showed up promptly at the agreed upon time. I checked out of the Hotel Eden, and drove over to Harry Viteles’s house, where I left most of my baggage, and my passport, etc. Actually, I haven’t used the dark suit or the gray tweed coat or the Dar trousers at all. In fact, I haven’t unpacked them since arriving. I have been living either in my khaki trousers, or in that light brown suit I fortunately took along with me. It has been too warm to wear anything in as much as I expect to have for the Negeb and Elath and the Wadi Arabah from here the day after tomorrow. I didn’t want to drag my suitcase along. I took my TWA travel bag and picked up another like it from Rose Viteles, and was able to get into them everything I shall need for the next week. I don’t quite know what I shall do with the brown suit I am wearing now for city wear, but I’ll probably leave it here at the hotel, and pick it up when I get back.
As we were leaving Jerusalem, I told the driver to pick up as many people as the car could hold, and take them in the direction we were going, if they were going in that direction too. I may have mentioned somewhere previously that there seems to be a terrific lack of transport, and at all times of the day and half the night apparently people are standing on the roads thumbing rides. There are always groups of young soldiers and the equivalents of our Wacs waiting for rides. We picked up 4 soldiers, one Wac and one man with a young child, and took them with us as far as the outskirts of Tel Aviv, while we turned in this what is for this land fantastic and what would be for any land a most attractive bungalow type hotel built around a very elegant, tiled swimming pool.
But I have gotten ahead of my story. The first thing I did yesterday morning after seeing the Viteleses was to make a call on the Israel Dept. of Antiquities and see Yeivin who is its head. Ben Dor was there, Ruth Amiran, and several others, working as if they were going about their usual tasks at the Palestine Archaeological Museum. Yeivin is a sort of caricature official type. He looks and acts important, yells at people, and doesn’t get too much done. Some wonderful things have been found in the last few years in Israel, most of them by accident. From the Huelh swamp project, there are large pieces of huge elephant tusks and bones and teeth and very early Paleolithic flint axes. One Chalcolithic double jar they showed me, I forget from where it came, was undoubtedly used for making butter. I wasn’t there but a few minutes, before the phone began to ring for me. The Bonds for Israel Office had been tracking me down, and I guess figured that it could find me at the Dept. of Antiquities, failing to find me elsewhere. I had been moving around too rapidly for anyone else to catch up with me. They wanted to show me around to some of the factories, and to take various pictures. So before I left Jerusalem, I was taken to the new manufacturing district at Romeima on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where some very modern and attractive factories have been put up. I must say that the first and only factory I saw was wonderfully interesting. It is not far from Nebi Samuel, which is very clearly visible on its high hill not too far away. I asked in whose hand is Nebi Samuel was, and was not too amazed to hear that it was in the hands of the Arab Legion. The factory belongs to the Jerusalem Shoe Co., Ltd, employs about 300 people, has been in existence for two years, and is completely privately financed, and is making a profit. It has some tie-up or other with the General Shoe Corporation in America, and is almost an exact copy, I am told of one of the General Shoe Corporation plants in Nashville, Tenn. This Jerusalem Shoe Co., Lt., which is largely owned by Joe Sugarman, owns all of its own machinery, some of which it brought form that American shoe-machinery monopoly and others parts of which it bought in Europe. It does not therefore have to pay a royalty on each pair of shoes. The shoes, for me, women, and children are made on American lasts, and in fact, a considerable proportion of the product are exported to America where they are sold at prices ranging from $8.95 to 11.95. That is a losing transaction except that in brings in dollar exchange, for which the Israel Government gives a specially favorable pound rate, so that in some complicated way the shoe co. still comes out with a profit. I remember that in the days of the inflation in Germany, the big banks were known to have bought dollars in the black market, giving an exchange rate that one could not begin to get officially over their counters. The shoes sell in Israel for 7 Israeli pounds for women to 10 I. Pounds for men. It is a clean, humming, happy looking factory, with an excellent, sunny, cafeteria on the second floor, where the workers eat their noon-meal. This is probably the one hot meal a day that they get, and cost them 23 piastres. It costs the company about 35 piastres to give it to them, but Sugarman told me that they found they had to do it for the workers, because otherwise their efficiency sank materially.
The most remarkable part of Sugarman’s story, however, dealt not with machines and shoes and profits and exchange but with the people working in the factory. It is not the invest of a million and a quarter dollars which the factory and its machines represents but the far more productive investment and results in the matter of the workers in the factory, who number about 300. They were all immigrants of most recent vintage when they were first employed two years ago, and for the most part still live in Ma’aboroth, that is in temporary transfer camps. A project is on foot now to build houses for them. They came from 34 countries, as far apart instance and as wide apart in culture and circumstances as Europe and Asia, as Austria, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey, Yemen, Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, and so on. They could not even talk to each other or be talked to in any one language. Some came from concentration camps ill in body and broken in spirit. Others were toughs from Morocco, who would pull a knife on you at the drop of a hat. And so it went, and yet out of that variegated and apparently indigestible mass has been created a group of skilled, happy, earnest, productive workers, who, if this example can be multiplied, represent the hope of the future of this country. For their like represents today at least a full half of the population of Israel, and their half is multiplying with extraordinary fecundity.
Twelve non-Jewish American shoe experts were brought here for two years and have just left. They taught some of these people to be foremen experts and helped us tall the machinery and remained until natives had been taught how to run it. They set up methods of park, standards, labor regulations, etc. which apparently have achieved wonderful results. The problem of language was overcome by the creation of a sign and number language. Different operations were given different colors and numbers, and by God the thing worked. At the same time, they began learning Hebrew. They had to learn everything. At first, if any one had to go to the toilet to defecator or urinate, he would do it right outside the factory. They had to learn how to go to a toilet, how to get and keep clean, how to come on time, how to get along with each other. A new society had to be created. They had to learn discipline, the discipline of integrity, of honesty, of industry, of cleanliness, of productivity, of shaming. They had to be transformed from concentration camp refuse and Moroccan ghetto dregs to the alert, well fed, happy looking, hard working skilled workers that I saw at Sugarman’s factory. Their’s is a 47 hour week and their average wage ranges from 75 to 120 Israeli pounds a month, which Sugarman tells me they live on fairly well. Certainly, it is a million per cent better than what they had. Furthermore, the Federation of Labor and the Government help determine wages. A trained nurse is on duty all the time. The firm contributes a certain amount per capita to the Histadrut of the workers for group insurance.
Sugarman and his associates deserve great credit. He had spent most of his life in America, and had already been about ready to retire, when he made up his mind to return to the land of his birth, and do this job for the sake of his country and people. He has done it so well, that he is also making a financial profit, but I believe that he is really more interested in the profit of recreating human beings that he has achieved.
Last night, I went to Moshe Sharett’s house for dinner. It is a government owned, very elegant place, beautifully furnished, provided for whomsoever is the Foreign Secretary. It was bought and furnished I am told by some rich American Jew and given to the Government for that particular purpose. Dr. Nahum Goldman, Rabbi Irving Miller, the President of the Sionist Organization of America, Col Herzog and his wife (he being the Israeli military attaché in Washington, Mrs. Ginsberg, whose husband is a son of Aha ha-Am, her sister, Mrs. Ruppin, whose daughter is married to Yigael Yadin, the Commanding General of the army, who is himself an archaeologist and is a son of the Professor Sukenik, the archaeologist of the Hebrew University, and a number of others. I had a few minutes private talk with Sharett, after dinner, but was disappointed with the rest of the evening. Nahum Goldman and Irving Miller and Herzog and Sharett began to vie with each other in telling humorous stories, some of which were good and some not so good, and took up the whole evening till 10 P.M., when we all went home, because some of the men there had some official Zionist conference. Miller’s General Zionists have been trying to get together with the Mapai party headed by Ben Gurion and Sharett, but nothing has come of it, so that the small orthodox group still has a strangle-hold over several important ministries. One of the things that group has succeeded in doing is to prevent any trains from traveling on Saturday. That must involve a terrific economic loss on this country where transport is so short, and particularly during the citrus season, when every hour of transport is important in moving the crop. By the same token, only kosher meat may be imported into the country. Most of the people don’t keep or care about such matters. They work in the colonies to a degree on Saturday, and I have recently seen extensive ploughing going on some of the colonies on Saturday.
Three days ago, the army sent for me to Beth-Yerah. We drove to their Galilee headquarters in Nazareth, where the army has taken over the former chief headquarters built by the British. After studying maps and picking out some air pictures I wanted, and after a delay of several additional hours because the young officer who was to fly with me, Ariel Sharon was suddenly called in on some matter, we drove to the former big British airfield at Ramat David in the Jezreel Valley. There we got into a Piper Cub plane, piloted by a young Israeli Flight Lieutenant and flew off towards the Jordan Valley along the Jezreel and Beisan planes. The Mountains of Gilboa were below us, but they belong to the Arabs. We turned north below Beisan, passed that wonderful Crusader site of Kaukab el-Howa (the Star of the Wind), which I had visited by jeep and command car with the army two day earlier, and flew along the entire length of the upper Jordan Valley, over the Lake of Galilee and the commanding site of Susitha above Ein Gev on its site, along the strength of the Jordan that connects Lake Huleh with the Lake of Galilee, over the swamps that are being dried (future generations will not see those swamps, form which recently some Paleolithic elephant tusks and similar remains have been recovered and which I saw in the Dept. of Antiq. Of Israel in Jerusalem the other morning), over the huge tell of ancient Abel Beth Maacha, and then we turned southward and westward and flew along the Lebanese border, and then turned southward again, flew over the great sit of Khirbet Tell er-Ruweisah that I had inspected with the army some days previously, and over the chains of Galilee hills, which step down with widening valleys between them till soon we were landing again at
Ramat David airfield. The young officer flying with me, who has become a confirmed archaeologist in the week we have been together, namely Major Ariel Sharon and I clambered out, with the young flight Lieutenant, joining us. His name was Adam Tsivoni. Just before landing, he circled the houses in back of Ramat David airfield, opened the window and waved to his wife, having first sort of buzzed the house to notify her that it was he.
Oct. 17, 1952
I shall have to work backwards to try and give an account of the events of the last few days. Last we went to Ein Gev by boat and returned by truck. It was a beautiful ride, beginning at the mooring place in the Jordan River, and ending at Ein Gev. Ein Gev was not abandoned even during the War of Liberation, and so far as I can see is in excellent condition. All of the sites damaged or destroyed in this war have as a matter of fact been repaired or restored. There was a meeting there of practically all the 500 or so attending this Archaeological Conference to celebrate the 40th year of the establishment of the Israel Exploration Society. Old man, Prof. Slousch spoke, and apparently thought that this was going to be his last opportunity ever to speak to a large audience, and it was with difficulty that he was stopped. Dr. Brawer, the first secretary of the Society then spoke, as did Yeivin and Maisler. I was sitting on the platform with them, and when it got to be Yeivin’s turn, I told him I would get out my (non-existent) revolver and shoot him dead if he exceeded more than ten minutes. He didn’t. The meeting was held in the splendid music auditorium of Bin Gev, with its magnificent view over the Lake of Galilee. The place is incomplete yet, but concerts are being held there regularly. In the front of the building, which is on the east side is a wonderful bronze statue by Channah Orloff of a Jewish mother held aloft a young child, symbolizing the exuberant strength of the country. Steinberg, – I think that is his, who is a relative of Dick Mack’s and who had called on me in my office in Cincinnati, came up to greet me, together with his very attractive wife, after the end of the meeting proper, and preceding the concert by a quartette of young men from Tel Aviv, who gave a splendid rendition of Dvorschak’s (?) [sic] Niger (?) [sic] piece. It was just beautiful, and the audience was thrilled. Three of the young men were natives of Tel Aviv and had grown up and learned to play here in the land.
I may have said this before, but I am terrifically impressed with the people and country of Israel. I have been hearing stories of black market and a let down of morale and etc. That may exist in certain quarters, but not in those that I have been having contact with. Where else in the world could a company of 500 be assembled to participate in an archaeological congress such as this, and go at listening to archaeological lectures all day and all night long for five days? I am told, and I believe it, that they had to play down this conference, because otherwise there would have been several thousand people here. Interspersed with the lectures were trips around the nearby country side to visit sites of archaeological interest. I haven’t gone on any of the trips except the one last night, because I have either been to all the places they visited dozens of times, or I have been going around with the army to visit them.
A word about the army. I have been having a lot of contact with it, and I have never come across a higher and more intelligent and more cultured officer group. It is tremendously interested in archaeology and history and music and everything cultural. They are doing anything I ask of them to do, because they want to be helpful, and also because they are deeply interested themselves. They are all young men, have all gone through severe fighting, and represent a wonderful source of strength and character and decency for the entire country. Today, the army is coming for me to take me to Kaukab el-Howa, a great castle in the vicinity that I have always wanted to visit, but which I could never get to during all the years of the riots and
The day before, the army sent a young Major for me, Rav Seren Ariel Sharon, who is all of 24 years of age, but is a wonderful, alert, self-possessed chap, who is tremendously interested in archaeology. He came, with an army car, and we toured the entire length of road paralleling the Lebanese border. Sometimes the boundary stones or heaps of white painted stones are right next to the road. The road was built by the British Mandatory Government, under Tegart, during the 1936-9 riots, I believe. There are pill-boxes, and police-posts of fortress like nature all along the road, with the main posts being occupied by the Israel police now. It is difficult at first, remembering the uniforms of the British police and soldiers, to recognize who is who at first, because the Israel police and army seem to have taken over the style of uniforms of their British predecessors. We visited a number of tells en-route, the finest one being that of Tell Qadeis, where we found EB III and Roman-Byzantine sherds. It is a tremendous site.. There are new Jewish settlements all along the boundary area, and numerous abandoned Arab villages, with the exception of some Druze and Christian Arab sites, particularly a little farther south. We stopped at some abandoned fig tree orchards and ate our fill of delicious figs, which have grown pretty small because the trees have not been tidied and the ground between them has not been ploughed for several years now. I am sure that they will be taken care of, however. We have lunch in Nahariyeh, and then drove back by the road paralleling the northern road, but somewhat to the south of it. From both sides of the road we could see the very large and prominent site of [?] fort, about which I shall have to read up. I shall comment on it some more when I look up my notes of the trip.
About half way back towards the east, we cut north, and visited the very prominent tell of Khirbet Tell erephuweisah, which seems to be the most prominent tell in northern Galilee. We collected a lot of sherds, which I haven’t reexamined yet, but they seem to include all of the Early Bronze, most of the Middle Bronze, and the Iron Ages, and considerable Hellenistic Roman and Byzantine materials. I am not sure but that there may also be some Chalcolithic sherds among them.
I think I may be travelling again today with Ghandi, that Segan Aluf (Lt. Col.), Rehaveam Zeevi, who was with me and Aluf (Bridadier) Moshe Dayyan, when they took me to see the project of drying the Huleh swamps.
I want to say before I forget it, that interest in archaeology has become the equivalent of a rational movement in the country. Archaeological circles are formed in every little community, and they go at it hammer and tongs. Countless individuals have come up to me here, who have begged me to visit their villages or colonies to see what they have gathered and to visit the museums they have built. Yesterday, I visited Alumot, just south of Kinnereth, where they have discovered a very large Chalcolithic site, and have fixed up a splendid little museum to preserve the pottery and flints and stone and flint tools they have discovered. It must be remembered that they have to find time for these pursuits after the gruelling work hours all the members of these communities have to put in in their ordinary work. I then went to visit Sha’ar hag-Golan where Stele-les has been excavating for several years. It is situated in the bend between the Yarmuk and Jordan rivers, and had to be abandoned for several days during the war. The bahai community across the way from Sha’ar hag-Golan suffered too,
Because the Arabs wanted the Persians to contribute their young men to attack Sha’ar hag-Golan, which they refused to do. The Arabs then attacked their site of el-Adasiya, and wrought great damage. Some of the Bahais have returned, I understand, but many of them fled back to Persia. The site is presently inhibited by a mixed Persian and Arab population.
One thing that gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction is the way my two more or less popular books are known and used and are being bought by the public. The third edition of the Other Side of the Jordan is about to be brought out, and The River Jordan which is in its third edition is already about half sold out. Both seem to be standard books to give to high school graduate and classes in history. It is funny, but a lot of the people buying the books don’t seem to know that I am a Jew. Albright’s book is also translated into Hebrew, but doesn’t sell as well. It is quite possible that as a result of the stimulation of this trip, I may decide to write the third book, which really would complete the other two, namely that in addition to The Other Side of the Jordan, and The River Jordan, I were to write This Side of the Jordan or The West Side of the Jordan.
I started writing this part of my letter this morning, and am continuing it for a few minutes this evening, after having returned from a day long fascinating trip. The army sent for me again this morning, and after picking up that interesting young Jewish shepherd, Judah Dayyan of Beth Alpha, who had said that he wanted to come with me, we drove to the military headquarters of this army in Affuleh or rather outside of Affuleh. There Aluf Miashneh (Col.) Avraham Yaffe, who commands the Gideon army group was waiting for me. He had been introduced to me here at Beth-yerah, and I had told him that I wanted to get to Kaukab el-Howa, (The Star of the Wind), a great Crusader castle overlooking the north part of the Jordan Valley from the very edge of the hills back of and SW of Beisan. I had for years been wanting to get there, but couldn’t, because for years it had been the headquarters of dissident Arab groups. It happens that during the War of Liberation, he was the one who captured it from the Arabs and his troops drove off the Iraqis who tried to dislodge the Israelis with everything from frontal infantry attacks to shooting at the site with cannons. The Iraqis were repulsed with apparently very heavy losses.
From the top of Kaukab el-Howa, we could see Mt. Tabor and the Sea of Galilee and much of the length of the Jordan Valley. I was sure that I could see as far as Sartaba even in the haze, and the officers with me confirmed the fact. They also pointed out to me the point of Khirbet Ibzik, the Biblical Bezek, which I have mentioned in my last book in connection with the proof for the location of Jabesh-gilead at Tell el-Meqbereh on the Wadi el-Yabis. From this point one has a wonderful view over much of the east side of the Jordan Valley, which I had fortunately previously explored. We could also make out the position of Qal’at er-Rabad by Ajlun. The Arabs occupy now the houses of the Rutenberg woks. Electrical power is no longer manufactured there, and the Engine B and dynamos have been taken to Amman, where they generate electricity for that city.
The archaeological congress dispersed today, and only a few people are left, including our HUC student, Allen Feinberg, who is working for Maisler, and studying at the Hebrew University. I give these boys letters of introduction to Maisler, whose Hebrew name is now Mazar, and he certainly takes these boys into his heart. Maisler is to be the Rector of the University this year, succeeding Prof. Schwabe in that position.
Oct. 21, 1952
Turn back to p. 21. You will have received the previous pages by now.
With all my love to you and Charles and Nanny, as ever, your
P.S. Please call Mrs. Dunsker and have her reserve a room for me at the Plaza in N.Y.C. for Oct. 31. Leave word for me at the Plaza where I can reach you. I think you told me you’d be in Chicago on Oct. 31. I’ll remain in New York for a day or two working at the institute.
We are flying at 18,500 ft. Have just had breakfast, which on this American plane is pretty standard, down to a packaged cereal. There are breaks in my butts, and the blue Mediterranean is visible far below.
Last night, the Hebrew University gave me an official reception at the Pension Vita, which is near the Hotel Eden. Most of the University is now housed in the Terra Santa. The ridiculous and tragic waste of the University and Library and Hadassah Hospital buildings on top of Mr. Scopus not being used, and being controlled by the U.N. Even the books in the library can’t be used. A closed convoy from Jewish Jerusalem goes up to the top of Mt. Scopus once a week. I could have wangled a trip, but didn’t think it worth the effort concerned. When I first go to Jerusalem, I called on Mr. Roger Tyler, in charge of the American Consulate General there. I told him immediately that I had no intention of asking him to help me cross over the line at Mandelbaum Gate so that I could visit the American School of Oriental Research, -which in reality I wanted so much to see. One can’t have been connected with it as long as I have, and not have a deep emotional attachment to it. However, I had made up my mind before coming to Israel this time, that I could devote every second of time available to me to constructive work, without wasting precious hours or days trying to get permission to cross over into Arab held territory, in which now the ASOR is located. When I told Tyler this, his face which had had sort of a wary look on it when I began to talk to him relaxed, and then he began to tell me that he would do everything in his power to get me across. I asked him not to try. I have reason, however, to believe that he did try anyway, but as he more or less knew and as I had suspected, he got nowhere. He told me yesterday that he had actually discussed me with the Arab officer in charge, who seems to know me, and the Arab officer was most kindly disposed to me, but was adamant about any Jew, including American Jews, crossing over into Arab territory. To the degree that our U.S.A. Government accepts this state of affairs, we American Jews are relegated to a second or third degree of citizenship in fact, if not in letter. I wonder what would happen if the American government said that if its citizens who were Jewish could not enter Moslem territory, then no Moslem could enter American territory. Because of international relations, when USA needs the good will of the Arab world, this may be impossible today. It certainly wasn’t impossible during the war, or even before the war. There would be a hell of a commotion in America if such a ban against entering Moslem countries were put upon protestant or Catholic citizens of America.
9:30 A.M. We are beginning to cross the islands not far form the southern tip of Greece. They are brown and bare and eroded in part, but much more terraced than the Arab areas of Palestine. I wonder if at one time these hills weren’t wooded. One of the most wonderful things being done in Israel today is the extensive amount of afforestation which is going on.
But I am ahead of my story. At this reception last night, in spite of the fact that the Symphony Orchestra was playing at the same time, about a hundred of the Hebrew University professor with their wives were present, most of them from the equivalent of the College of Liberal Arts. People like Schwabe, Assaf, Ben Zevi, Picard Dushkin, Amiran, Vilnai, and the people from the Department of Antiquities and the School of Jewish studies were present. The Minister of Education, Prof. Dinaburg, The University Executive Vice-President, Dr. David Werner Senator, and the Rector, Dr. Benjamin Maisler sat at the main table, with me between them. Tea and cookies and some sort of sandwiches were served. Then Dr. Senator made a very nice little introductory speech, in which he welcomed me, saying that although I was leaving the country a few hours later, the University [entry incomplete]
9:50 A.M. We are really beginning to hit the Greece mainland,- high hills in the distance. Landed at Athens at 9:55 A.M. (Israel time), and 10:55 A.M. (Athens time). It is hot and dry in the airport. Little courtesies such as teas and coffee at the airport through the courtesty of TWA, which also forwards mail free of charge which passengers write on the plane. – The steward and stewardess on the plane are Israelis. – Lv. Aths at 10:58 A.M. – We are to fly at 12,000 ft., and it will take about 3 hours to Rome.
Dr. Senator spoke about my unofficial connections with the University in years gone by and expressed the hope that within a reasonable part of time, I would return and stay permanently in Israel. He referred to the conversation, without saying so, that he had had with me about a week or so previously, in which he was repeated by the Prime Minister Ben Gurion several days ago when I saw him in his house, for the lunch which he was giving in my honor, and which was attended by Dinaburg, Maisler, and Schwabe. I had had to tell Ben Gurion what I told Senator, that at the present, which could be interpreted as being for about five years more, I could not see my way clear to leaving the Hebrew Union College, and that of course the University could not wait for me. I am of course deeply flattered and deeply moved by the repeated and pressing invitation to accept the presidency of the Hebrew University, but if for no other reason, then because of Charles, I could not leave America now. I don’t think I have the right to tent up his roots in America, particularly in view of the psychological harm already done him by my being away from home so many years before and during the war. Helen would and could possibly leave and carry on her medical research work in Jerusalem, although not as well as in Cincinnati, but I think the effect upon Charles now would be calamitous. I may be rationalizing and using him as an excuse, but I don’t think so. Maisler (Mazar) then spoke, and really in a wonderful manner summed up the nature and quantity and significance of the work in Transjordan that I have accomplished during the years from 1932 to 1952. I sat back and listened and wondered if indeed I could be the person he was speaking about, and really thinking that the person he was speaking about was almost somebody else. It is like when I have finished a book. With the exception perhaps of the River Jordan, I cease to have a personal relationship to it. Maisler gave me a synthesis of the work and publications that are associated with me, of the mass of details and significance of historical conclusions that I have drawn. It made me feel proud and humble. Actually, what I feel most is that I have had a wonderful lot of fun doing all that work, and am a very lucky fellow to have been able to do it, and get a good deal of it published thus far. It will be swell if I ever catch up with myself so far as the scientific publications of my archaeological work is concerned, that is the publication in final form.
I was then called upon to speak, talked about why I was and always would be interested in the archaeology of the Holy Lanf, expressed my gratitude for the reception accorded me everywhere and in all circles since my coming to Israel, described briefly some fo the new scientific results of my archaeological explorations during this month, and expressed my very strong feeling of confidence in the future of Israel, despite the weariness and disappointment and hardships and trials of the present. It is a fact, that most of the people of Israel are so bogged down by the difficulties of making a living and getting some amount of constructive work done, than the r4 [sic] is a tendency to lose sight of the total accomplishments past and present of Israel in view of the multitude of plaguing particulars, of losing sight of the forest and its niche because of seeing only the trees. I really feel this time, after seeing the modern copper mines, the Machtesh, the Mif’al Kishon, the new basic chemical plaint, in Haifa, the new roads springing up everywhere, Bersheba and [incomplete entry]
I feel more confident regarding the future of Israel than I ever have. I am confident too that oil will be discovered. We found and photographed a large quantity of natural asphalt that has emerged from the depths of the Dead Sea. It had come up on the shore between Ain Gedi and Sodom. I had read about its occasional appearance, but had never seen it myself. It is associated with oil seepages, which may be near or below the bottom of the Dead Sea. I am sure that if holes are drilled deep enough oil will be found. I understand now too that asphalt (zefet) has been found at several places on the land, among others in the vicinity of Masada.
I have always known that the relationship between the people of Israel and myself was a friendly and warm one, but I don’t think I fully realized how warm that relationship is. They consider me one of them, and I know of no higher compliment that could be paid me. It gave me a sort of choked up feeling. When I was leaving this morning, I felt that maybe I ought to stay and take the presidency of the university, because at the moment I happen to possess some of the qualities which the university needs. However, no one is indispensable, and the university will in due course of time, I am sure, find the proper person.
It was an awfully busy day, yesterday, October 29. I had been invited for lunch by Consul and Mrs.Rodger Tyler. I didn’t realize until I got there that the lunch was in my honor, and was so entered in the guest book. It was a delightful affair. Mr. Tyler gave me two strong martinis, which I drank on an empty tummy, so I was in a pretty good mood. Present beside the Tylers and myself were Teddy Kolik, the Executive Assistant of the Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, Avramaz Bergman and Ruth, Harry and Rose Viteles, John Rhodes and his wife, both from Cincinnati (he is the culutal attaché here, and used to be the music critic on the Cinti Enquirer; she is a friend of Sally’s); a Mrs. Dal, the wife of Clark’s successor as head of Barclay’s bank in Jerusalem, and the chief representative of the U.N. in the Near East, General William E. Riley. I had wanted particularly to meet him and he turned out to be a most agreeable and friendly chap indeed. Of course, it didn’t hurt my opinion of him that he told me he knew who I was, had read The River Jordan, and had long been interested in my work. As a matter of fact, just after lunch was over, and before leaving, a sergeant came in with Riley’s copy of The River Jordan, which he ha had sent for so that I could autograph it. It brought back lots of memories; eating lunch in the American Consulate General. I have know the consuls there for many years now, beginning especially with George Wadsworth and on down to this day. I didn’t find or make opportunity to meet Ambassador Davis, who is located in Tel Aviv, where for the present, the Israel Government has its capital. It is only a matter of time before the Government moves in its entirety to Jerusalem, – in which case, despite Arab protests, the various ambassadors and diplomats accredited to Israel will have to take up their residence in Jerusalem.
At 12 noon, Mr. S. Bendor, the head of the North American section of the Israel Foreign Ministry came to see me, to confirm the results of conversations I had with him and the Foreign Secretary Moshe Sharett at Sharett’s house in Tel-Aviv sometime previously. I had asked if the Government would give me a decent plot of land in Jerusalem, and facilitate in every other way possible the establishment of a Hebrew Union College House in Jerusalem. I want to establish permanent headquarters for our students, some 5 or 6 of whom come to Israel every year now to study, and have a terrible time finding quarters to live in, and are gouged if they do. I want to have a library and a small chapel in connection with it.
Mr. Bendor suggested that I enlarge my conception so that it would be a hostel of twenty rooms, in which other foreign students would be [?] if they were on the same level with the HUC students. He [entry incomplete]
In case I were to enlarge my concept, the Government would be prepared to help financially to a considerable extent. The details of that would have to be worked out.
I had also asked if the Government would be prepared to give me a second plot of land in Jerusalem, for the possible establishment of an American School of Oriental Research in Israel. The Government replied that it is very willing to do so. It was in complete agreement with my own thinking that archaeology ought not be neglected by America on the Israel side, and for many other reasons too I want the ASOR not to be limited to the Arab side of Jerusalem and to Jordan. The ASOR has an enormous amount of influence, and I want everything that goes with it to be available to the intellectually hungry and creative Israel side. If for reason or another, this project doesn’t go through, and I can see that people like Willar Burrows will have conniption fits when I bring it up, then I am going ahead with the idea anyway, except that I shall tie it up with the Hebrew Union College building.
The Government furthermore assured me that it would give me all possible tax exemptions, which indeed the ASOR used to have an probably still does have on the Jordan side. The Government is prepared to give me the same tax exemptions also for the HUC building.
Insofar as archaeological work in the field is concerned, the Government is also prepared to give all possible direct of indirect financial assistance.
I had asked that the Government pay at least half of the wages of the workmen, and in addition give me a specially favorable exchange. Mr. Bendor assured me that the Government was the most favorably inclined, but that there might be difficulties so far as a special exchange rate was concerned, which I can understand. However, there is no question but that the Government is interested in having this kind of work done and in facilitating the work.
I have also asked whether or not for the purposes of continuing my archaeological survey, I could count in the future upon the assistance of the Army, which had been so wonderfully helpful during this last month, -having for instance during the course of the 6 day trip in the Negeb put 2 command cars, with a complement of heavily armed soldiers at my disposal to pursue to what turned out to be most valuable archaeological exploration of work in the Negeb and the Wadi Arabah. Without the help of the army, both so far as conveyances and equipment and particularly protection were concerned, I would hardly have been able to move. The army furthermore helped me in the North Galilee area and in the upper Jordan Valley, and even flew me in a Piper Cup for an hour and a half over all of North Galilee. Mr. Bendor told me he had a communication from the army, a copy of which he would send me, in which the army said this kind of assistance would be forthcoming also in the future. The British and Arab Legion did the same for me in Transjordan. In the final analysis, this kind of archaeological survey work is of direct benefit to the state in which it takes place from many points of view, – military, agricultural, economic, roads, water, tracks, cisterns, minerals, etc., – all of which emerged from my archaeological explorations of Transjordan. I know that the Jordan Government is presently engaged in working up the materials I have published for their own purposes.
At the luncheon at the American Consulate, I talked to Avram Bergman (Governor of Jerusalem, who is the one who will make the more or less final suggestion and choice of a suitable plots in Jerusalem for the HUC House and/or the American School of Oriental Research, Jerusalem, Israel. We discussed some very attractive sites. –Mr. Bendor told me that in New York I should get in touch with Harmon (?) [sic], or that he would get in touch with me, about details of these various matters.
In the afternoon, Mr. Behar visited me to consult about plans of the Government to put on a great cultural exhibition in 1954. For the first 15 minutes, I only heard him sort of vaguely. I had just gotten back from the American Consulate, and suddenly a wave of weariness overcame, so much so that it was all I could do from just lying down on the floor and resting a while. I haven’t slept more than five hours a day for three or four days, and have been going a terrific pace every day. I kept on nodding and saying “yes” every once in a while, till finally I was able to collect my wits and follow more attentively. He poured out his story and plans, about making reconstructions of Biblical cities, etc., and then I proceeding to knock some of them apart. I told him a reconstruction of an Israelite city of the Solomonic or later periods would resemble little more than the reconstruction of a modern Arab village, and that it wasn’t worth the expense and trouble. I made various other suggestions to him, which seemed to appeal to him. I still don’t know what the 1954 exposition is that he was talking about.
Avramski, the indefatigable secretary of the Israel Exploration Society, and one of our HUC students, Avram Feinberg, were also waiting for me. We talked over their affairs. Feinberg has been working with Stekeles at Sha’ar hag-Golan, and apparently they have uncovered a small but most interesting area with everything from Neolithic down to MBI. He brought me a present of a beautiful, large Neolithic flint hand-axe which Stekeles gave me. He said it came from “Ma’yan Baruch,” and I asked him to find out exactly where it is located.
In the morning of yesterday (that’s a hell of a round about way of saying ‘yesterday morning’, I had gone down to the Dept. of Antiquities, driven by Benyamin Lewy in the lovely Chrysler, and had given the Museum the sherds I had collected from Khirbet Tell er-Ruweisiyeh in north central Galilee. Ruth Amiran was particularly glad to have them, because she is writing a paper on the area, and had not obtained quite as good a collection as I had found. She had found none of the sherds of the Chalcolithic period, which I discovered, -which puts another important Chalcolithic site on the map. My sherds from the site showed Chalcolithic, all of EV, including EB IV, all of MB, no apparent sherds from BL, although I believe they will be found, Iron I-II, and Persian, Hell., Roman, Byzantine. It is a tremendous site and one that would repay excavation.
The other sherd collection I gave the museum was from Tell Manshieh in the Jordan Valley in the Beisan area, where I collected large numbers of LB and Iron I-II sherds. There were later sherds which I did not pick. Flying over the site with Ariel Sharon, I saw that the top of the tell was clearly surrounded by a fortification wall, which was not visible through the thick carpet of thorns and weeds which covered the top and much of the sides of the tell. The army took a special air view of this site for me, and the wall shows up beautifully in the air-pasture.
Dr. Moshe Gordon, the head of the Mosad Bialik also came in to see me yesterday, at 11:30 A.M., and discussed the Biblical Encyclopaedia with me, which he wants to have translated in English. I think it is an excellent thing to do and will endeavor, as soon as I get myself sorted out in America to helf find funds for the purpose. I guess that about covers yesterday. And now for the day before, October 28.
The trip to the Mchtesh hag-Gadol. I had arranged for Benyamin Levy to call for me at 5:30 in the morning in order to get to the Mchtesh (Crater), and keep the appointments which had been made for me the day before when I was in the [?]
Rome- Ciampino West Airfield – arrive 1 P.M. brief shower as we arrived; the skies are overcast. Purchased in the airport building three crosses that Helen wanted for her laboratory workers, although they won’t be particularly kosher, because nobody of Catholic authority has properly sanctified them, and I guess that goes beyond any possible stretch of my own authority. Leaving at 1:30 – the same iron grill instead of cement apron on this airport [?]. In the toilet, a portly lady opens the door as gentlemen enter, peeks in to see if they are finished, and brings a towel, waits outside but doesn’t press for a tip. It’s Continental, and I only mention it because the American manner of bathroom and public toilet attendants is necessarily different in our inhibited, Anglo-Saxon environment. We are to fly at 13,000 feet to Milan, and from there to Switzerland at 18,500 feet.
To get to the Big Crater, on October 28, I left the Eden Hotel in Jerusalem at 5:30 A.M. with Benyamin Levy driving the Chrysler. I had gone to bed pretty late, and woke up early. I looked at the watch, and thought I read 5 A.M. I got up, brushed my teeth, shaved, etc., and went downstairs complaining very slightly to the clerk that he hadn’t buzzed my room at 5 o’clock as I had requested. He grinned, and said I had better look at my watch again. It was 4:15 A.M. I went back upstairs, stripped, and lay down again for an hour. Leaving Jerusalem, Benyamin took the so-called Swiss road, crossing a high and narrow ridge, and going to Tsuba, Kastel, Har Tuv, Beit Jebrin, Faluja, and finally coming out on the main N-S Beersheba road at the crossroads near Masmia. This Swiss road runs in places very close to the border, and when we came back that same night from Beersheba to Jerusalem, Biyamin wouldn’t take it, because on numerous lonely stretches, incidents can easily happen, he said and have happened. I agreed with him that nothing was to be gained by taking an unnecessary chance. We got to Beersheba in good time, arriving there about 8:15 A.M., and went into a restaurant to have breakfast. Beersheba is a totally different place today from what it was five years ago and previously. It is a bustling little Jewish town, with military headquarters for the South there. It was interesting to see scrubbed and shining faced little Jewish children of all complexions trudging along the streets to school with their books under their arms. While we were eating breakfast consisting of bread, margarine, lebaniyeh, cut up green peppers and tomatoes and coffee, in came Mr. Michael Skidlesky, the Engineer in charge of the mining ventures of the Great Crater. He had received a telegram the day before from Mr. Rycus of the Bonds for Israel Office, telling him we’d appear between 6-7 A.M., and asking him to meet us and take us to the Crater and do all the necessary explaining. Poor fellow, he had been waiting for two and a half hours. It wasn’t our fault, however, because our timetable called for us to be at Tell Yeruheam at 9 A.M., where by previous agreement with Prime Minister Ben Gurion’s military attaché, Argov, and army command car was to meet us at 9A.M. And at A.M. exactly, we rolled in and the command car under the command of Segari Misneh Jack Lupo (Lt), was waiting for us with a complement of about 7 or 8 well armed soldiers, one of whom presided over a machine gun.
It had been a beautiful ride down to Beersheba. My butts covered the skies all the way down, and some way fell, making it very pleasant indeed. The soft reddish-browns of the bare and partly ploughed earth of the slightly rolling Beersheba country side came out clearly under the subdued light, which otherwise, when the sun is beating down, bathes everything in a common glare that makes it hard to distinguish colours.
From Beersheba to Tell Yeruheam is about 18 km., I think, and there is a permanent worker’s camp and a small tent military post there. The workers are there with their wives and children and chickens and apparently a permanent support by road work, drilling, pipe-laying, etc., of which there is going to be a great deal during the next few years. The wooden huts they live will have payed for themselves by that time in the amount of use they have given. I imagine the government or the contractors have furnished the houses such as they are more or less free of charge. These are pioneering conditions, and premiums in lodging and food provision in addition to salary have to be offered to induce workmen to come.
Mr. Skidelsky, the Engineer in Charge of the Machtesh is one of the interesting characters one consistently meets in Israel. He is a Russian Jew, who speaks fluent Russian, spent twenty years in England, where he was educated as a mining engineer, and then spent a considerable period mining coal in Manchuria, I guess before World War II. He could only have worked there and in China for a British Company. I’m sure that he couldn’t have been working for the Russians. To judge from his conversations with me, he likes the Communists as little as I do. We didn’t have time to talk further together about his personal life. When I was down in the Wadi Mene’iyyeh in the Wadi Arabah about a week earlier, where I had revisited the Solomonic Copper Mines, and where the Israel Mining Industries with the Belgian concessions are presently conducting mining operations, the Jewish engineer in charge, Mr. Ford Von Haham is a Dutch Jewish mining engineer, educated at the University of Delft, and until he came to Palestine was in charge of gold mining operations somewhere in South Africa. The workmen at both places come from some 30 plus odd countries.
We have in the meantime landed at Geneva, arriving there at 2:20 P.M. (4:20 Geneva time), and leaving at 3 P.M. (5 P.M.). It is getting darker outside, and the sun is beginning to set.
When we left Beersheba, Mr. Skidelsky took with us a Romanian Jew, whose name I didn’t get, who is a pottery manufacturer and an expert on clays. This fellow Skidelsky goes around this area prospecting for all kinds of raw materials, and right near tell Yeruheam found great deposits of clay which he felt were good enough for making course pottery and fir-brick and tiles and so on. He wants to establish a small pottery at Tell Yeruheam to give employment to the wives of the workers stationed there. The women complain that they haven’t enough to do, even with their children, – which is obviously true, because the lives they live and the quarteres they have are pretty primitive, and all of their food is, I think, prepared for them in a central kitchen. The moment Skidelsky showed this Romanian Jewish expert the clays, he confirmed Skidelsky’s opinions and I bet that within 6 months there will be a small pottery established at Tell Yeruheam.
The Machtesh or Crater is really an exciting place. There is a large, circular rim of hard rock around a deep and fairly flat bowl, looking for all the world like one of the craters or depressions that one sees in enlarged photographs of the moon. In that crater they are now getting all the fine sand for the considerate glass industry in Palestine, especially the Phoenicia Glass Works in Haifa. Not so long ago, all of the sand for the manufacture of glass was imported from Belgium. In addition, there are clays for pottery, ordinary potters’ clay, but in addition there are unlimited quantities of most excellent Caldonite or Ball Clay, which is sufficient to establish a large industry for the manufacture of porcelain tubs, toilets, sinks, etc. With the primitive conditions of extracting and loading these sands and clays at the present time, practically without any machinery except a couple of bull-dozers, shipments of the Caldonite clays are going out every day and are being sold at a profit in the export market. I didn’t get the exact figures, but this is only a beginning. Mr. Skidelsky has traced these seams of caldonite and glass sands as far as
In addition, Mr. Skidalsky has found some very promising iron ores in this crater, some specimens of which took back with him on the day we were there. As he was shoveling up a sack of iron ore specimens, which he had had dug out the day before, I discovered some very early worked flints on the floor of the crater, which indicate that it was a camping ground many thousands of years ago. It is a natural camping ground, and particularly after the rains come, the floor of the crater and the bed of the little wadi which runs through must be covered with lush grass and flowers and shrubs. Mr. Skidalsky confirmed this. And it is furthermore very possible that oil may be found in this crater or in others like it. This enterprising engineer is convinced that all the geological factors are present to indicate that drilling, at perhaps great depths, would reveal oil. He told me that there is a track which leads from Transjordan through the crater to Sinai and Egypt, and that the Bedouin and smugglers between the two countries follow this track. As long as the Arabs don’t bother the workmen and the works, he doesn’t bother them. There was one incident, he told me of the theft of a thousand sacks by the Bedouin or smugglers, who usually pass through after night fall and encamp just beyond the far sides of the perimeter of the Crater. He added that the sacks had been full of phosphate, which were being sent to Haifa. The Bedouin weren’t interested in the phosphate, which they dumped out, but were interested in the sacks.
One very exciting discovery of Mr. Skidelsky’s was confirmed on the day of our visit. He and another member of his staff, while looking for ores, had, suitably armed (the question of security is a very real one in this entire area. I remember that at the Copper Mines there was a guard for almost every workman), wandered up the tiny little, very shallow wadi that runs through the center of the Crater, and in which, like so many of these wadis there is obviously some water sufficient to maintain a thin line of green shrubs even till the end of the summer. But what startled Mr. Skidelsky was that he came across a seepage of water appearing on the surface at what is apparently the lowest spot in this wadi, – the floor of the Crater being about 290 meters above sea level, if I remember correctly. While we were there, two armed workmen had dug down about four feet into the bed of the wadi, between some large blocks of stone, which may not have been accidentally placed there, and they had come across a flow of water strong enough to fill up the little excavation they had made as fast as they emptied it with their buckets. This discovery of water at the very end of the summer is of tremendous importance. All the drinking water for the Crater and for the phosphate workings two kilometers away from it, which belong to the extension of the crater is carted in tank cars from Beersheba at a tremendous expense. Off hand there would seem to be enough water to supply all the drinking and washing purposes for maybe a hundred people, and perhaps, there is a clay bed at the bottom of this crater which catches and holds what must be a very large quantity of water indeed that doing the occasional rains even in this desert flow down the sides and through the earth of the sides of the walls of the perimeter and fall on to the bed of the crater and sink down to the clay bed, and are caught there. Thinking of it in this light, if there indeed is such a clay bed at a horizontal level holding the water, still greater possibilities unfold for this region.
There are several very modest offices built in a rude building at this site, and already around this building these amazing Jews have planted several hundred eucalyptus trees, which they have been watering with waste water, and which have taken root and seem to be thriving. This is the first time in the history of man from certainly probably Paleolithic times on that trees have been planted or have grown in this area.
About two kilometers from this Machtesh, we came to the Phosphate Workings. Permanent roads are being built, some of them completed all around the phosphate mines, with 20 ton trucks being loaded and bringing the partly treated phosphate rocks to the new chemical plant in Haifa, which we had visited several days previously, where the phosphates are being transformed by the addition of sulphuric acids into super-phosphates. 150 tons a day of super-phosphate are now being produced between the two places, which, I am told, suffices for all the agricultural needs of the country, and soon there will be enough for export and for employments for other chemical purposes and materials.
The Phosphate Quarries represents a more advanced effort than the work in the Machtesh proper. Some adequate modern buildings have already been put up, permanent roads have been laid to the very doors of the place, lacking now only top surface asphalting. It was about noon when we came in, and the general manager of the Phosphate Quarries, Mr. Johanan Pels, a civil engineer, insisted that our whole party of about 12 men come in for lunch. We were served what under the difficulties of transport and lack of roads must be considered a most excellent lunch, of a heavy soup, meat, two vegetables and potatoes, bread, jam, tea, and grape-fruit. I remarked on this to Pels, who was delighted with my observation. Because of the severity of the working conditions, the workers here are getting more than 3000 calories a day, good sleeping quarters now, and as a result, Mr. Pels is able to demand and to get a lot of work from them and is able to keep them on the job.
(We must be approaching Paris. It is almost dark outside, and the flash has gone on to put on the seat-belts).
After lunch, Mr. Pels took us to the gleaming white quarry and explained the operation to us. The phosphate unfortunately is not pure, having a mixture of 50 per cent of flint, limestone, and loess, which have to be removed. Also there are different layers with different richnesses of phosphate. The problem was how to get rid of the 50% flint, etc. The ore is crushed with the phosphate falling through a 40 deze mesh and with an air blower to blow away the loess, as much of which as possible is removed by bull-dozer anyway. This general process has resulted in the enrichment of the phosphate shipped out form the mines by 4%, and with more machinery and experience they hope to enrich it another 4% before the phosphate is shipped to Haifa, to be turned in super-phosphate. Whenever water is brought in, a concentration (?) [sic] plant will be built further to enrich the phosphate.
From the phosphate mines we drove to the edge of the Ma’aleh Agrabim with its breath taking view over the Wadi Fiqreh leading into the great rift of the Wadi Arabah. We returned via Kurnub, which we did not however visit again. I had been there 20 years ago. It was late afternoon by then and getting very cold. We got back to Tell Yeruhmael, and Binyamin and I got into the Chrysler and followed the command car into Beersheba. Most of the soldiers in the command car changed over to our car after a while in order to keep warm.
Arriving in Beersheba, I called on the extremely interesting mayor of the city, who, so I had been told, had expressed a desire to me. A fine, strong face and head on a big body, -a man of dreams and action at the same time. He made a great impression upon me. We left then at 6 P.M., and Binyamin literally flew back to Jerusalem. The roads were comparatively empty, and I think we got back in less than two hours.
On the morning of Oct. 24, we got back from our trip in the Negreb with one of the command cars. We had been forced to leave the other at Sodom with its complement of soldiers, because it had broken down completely. We had left Ain Gedi in the afternoon of Oct. 20, got to Sodom early that evening, took the one good spring off of the one command car and put it in ours in place of our broken spring off of the one command car and put it in ours in place of our broken spring, and then started for Ain Hosb through the Wadi Waseib. About 11 P.M. we stopped in the Wadi Qeseib to have our lunch, which we hadn’t eaten yet. I guess we ate lunch and dinner together. Guards were put out while we were eating, and rotated then so that every body could eat. At about 1 A.M. we pulled into Ain Hosb, and stopped to pick up our Druze soldier whom we had left there several days earlier to recuperate from a terrible attack of constipation, which was diagnosed and attended to by the local army doctor who happened to be in the vicinity. The soldiers on guard at Ain Hosb didn’t want to let us in or out of Ain Hosb, but our toughs would brook no delay, and sort of broke through the rope barrier with our command car.
As we started out for Beersheba via the steep, twisting road leading up the Ma’aleh Aqrabim in the dead of night on the very early morning of Oct. 25, I began to laugh at myself. I looked for all the world as if we were part of a wild west film or something of the sort. Sitting on the left front was the Druze soldier manning a machine gun. Major Sharon drove with his rifle beside him and wearing a revolver. I had a hand-grenade in my pocket, and next to me on the right front sat Ya’ir from Mishmar hand-Negeb with his rifle. Behind us were two others with Sten guns and two more with rifles. We were pretty heavily armed. In the car divided among the various people were another dozen hand grenades. I guess it was just as well to be heavily armed. During the previous night on our way to Sodom, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves in a wadi leading straight into Jordan territory; before we turned back. I had been pretty sure that we were going on, because there were no car marks in the wadi bed at all, but inasmuch as I was a guest, I wasn’t going to say anything, particularly inasmuch as it might have appeared that I was scared, -which I was a little, although not too much. I just didn’t think the risk we were taking was commensurate with the goal of getting to Sodom an hour or two earlier than we might have otherwise. Finally, our two young officers bethought themselves, looked at their maps in the glare of the headlights, and we turned back again, and found the right track to Sodom.
But to continue with the events of the morning of October 26. About the in the morning, we had a blow out on the road. While they were fixing it, we stretched out a blanket on the dusty, rocky road, and slept for half an hour till they changed tires. We got to Beersheba, and after unloading from the command car to Ariel Sharon’s tender which was waiting for us (after we found where his army chauffer was sleeping and got a hold of him), we continued on out way, dropping of Ya’ir at Mishmar han-Megeb. We had previously stopped for a few minutes at Tell el-Quneitran. I think we found some Iron Age sherds there, and don’t remember whether or not I made notes about it. Some one took a photograph of us, and then we moved on to Rehovoth; where we had breakfast at the same little Yemenite restaurant where we had breakfast when starting out some six days previously. After that, they drove me to the Ramath Aviv Hotel in Tel-Aviv, while they went back to headquarters in Nazareth. We were all pretty tired and dirty and worn. I washed up, took a shower, and had a swim and then went to bed for most of the day and early that evening. I was interrupted by Maisler’s son calling on chance from Jerusalem, to tell me that the whole country side had been looking for me, because Mr. Ben Gurion wanted me for lunch the next day. Oct. 22. I said for him to confirm the date, and that I would be there. So the next morning, Oct. 22, in a taxi provided by [?] I returned to Jerusalem to find that failing to find me, Ben Gurion had not arranged the lunch at all. I was a little peeved, because otherwise, I would have remained in Tel Aviv most of the day, resting at the Ramat Aviv Hotel. However, it wasn’t too bad. I had to be in Jerusalem that evening anyway to give a lecture that Dr. Walter Moses had arranged in connection with the reopening of the Clark exhibition of ancient pottery at the Y.M.C.A. He had rearranged this wonderful collection in cases around the walls of the auditorium, and it makes a wonderful show, – a particularly valuable one to Jewish Jerusalem, inasmuch as the Rockefeller Museum is inaccessible to Israel today. I had wired Moses from Elath not to arrange the lecture, but my wire hadn’t gotten through on time, and he was pretty desperate, poor fellow, because in the meantime the whole thing was arranged, and Ben Gurion had consented to be present.
At 6 o’clock I gave the lecture to a very full auditorium. Ben Gurion was indeed present with Teddy Kolik. After my lecture (in English to a mixed audience), Ben Guirion got up in response to the invitation of the Director of the Y, and talked in Hebrew for about 20 minutes. I had talked about the results of the archaeological trip which had ended just the day before, and took this public opportunity to thank Ben Gurion and the Government and the army for the wonderful help that had been given me during my stay in Israel in connection with my archaeological pursuits. I described my visiting again after 20 years the Wadi Arabah and King Solomon’s copper mines and the discovery of some new copper mines that we had made, one a shaft mine in the Wadi Amaneh. I also told what a deep impression it had made upon me to find mining operation going on today in the Wadi Mene’iyyeh, and the impressions that Elath had made upon me. Ben Gurion said some very nice things about my work, and told how be had found me at Etzion Geber in 1938 and in 1939, the first time his having come via the Transjordan and the second time via the Wadi Arabah. He said he had a suspicion, -which was correct, -that even then I was thinking of how in the long run my work in the Wadi Arabah and at Etzion Geber might be useful for Israel. Kolik then made a date for me to have luncheon with Ben Gurion on Oct. 27, and for me to come before that to Ben Gurion’s office. It appears that Ben Gurion had been wanting to throw a luncheon in my honor.
I had dinner with Dr. Moses at the Hotel Kind David afterwards, and then went back to the E’’en, pretty tired.
October 31, 1952
It had been a long night. From the Orly airfield in Paris, where we spent about an hour or so, while the plane was refueled and crews changed, we flew to Shannon, arriving there about midnight their time. About 45 minutes there. I saw some Bols Cherry Liqueur there, which I used to like so much when it was obtainable in Jerusalem before the war. So I bought two bottles of it, adding it to the collection of “loot” I have been gathering en-route, -perfume in Paris, crosses and little presents for the Del and the other girls in the house and Helen’s lab. Assistants which I purchased in Rome, some harmonicas in Geneva. The only place apparently I didn’t buy anything en-route was in Athens. I must ask Ben Katz if one really saves anything by purchasing a watch in Switzerland.