EXPLORE BY MONTH
Thursday, July 24, 1968
This has been a gala day, marking the fiftieth university of the cornerstone laying on Mount Scopus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on July 24, 1918. There was first of all an afternoon program of an artistic and academic nature, with the participation of the Kol Israel Symphony Orchestra and Choirs, conducted by Shalom Ronly-Rikilis, and the singing by Richard Tucker of an aria from Halevy’s “La Juvie,” and excerpts from Handel’s “Judas Maccabeaus.” Sarah Tucker had phoned me in the morning, and I went up to the International Hotel on the Mount of Olives at about 3:30 p.m. to go with the Tuckers to the Mt. Scopus Amphitheatre and then sit with Mrs. Tucker during the afternoon’s program. I get into a quiet rage every time I go to the International Hotel, because somehow or other the bloody piety of the extreme Orthodox Jews does not seem to have been bothered by the fact that the hotel was built on top of a Jewish cemetery, ravaged parts of which are visible immediately below the west side of the roadway in front of the hotel. The remaining parts of the side cemetery are being restored, with knocked-over tombstones being put back into place. Many of them, however, simply have to under the foundations of the hotel. Yet I see some of the bearded gentry of unbridled fanaticism on the hotel grounds and in the hotel, and somehow the evil of the desecration seems to have been washed as white as snow, so far as they are concerned. I would hate to guess how their sensibilities have been assuaged.
*May not be published or excerpted without express permission of the author.
I have nothing against the International Hotel. I am told the service is excellent, and the Tuckers tell me that the food is good. I have been in their room, and it s very modernly and comfortably furnished. Most of the people staying there are American Jews so far as I can make out from casual observance, or rather Jew from Europe who have lived in America for twenty or fifty years, and whose speech still reveals their native backgrounds. I hope this doesn’t sound as if I were anti- them. It is just a report. I did grin a bit when I heard one fat Yente complain to an Arab waiter over a warm lemonade in a certain kind of New York English: “This is ah lemonade?”
However, I am off course. A special care came for the Tuckers, and we piled in about 4:00 p.m. Instead of crossing straight over the top of the hill, as we did on the way back, from the Mount of Olives to Mount Scopus, we had to go down to the bottom of the hill and take the long round about way up again to the old university grounds. They are still in shambles, but big plans are afoot to rebuild the campus there and have a number of departments of the university function there. The foundations of the Truman Peace Center are already in place and its walls are rising.
Getting to the amphitheatre, we were ushered to V.I.P. seats in the second row. Everybody, but everybody who was anybody and his cousin was there. Next to Mrs. Tucker sat Mrs. Sam Rothberg, whose husband is the Chairman of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, and next to her was a lady whom I thought I knew and did know, but misnamed. She was the wife of Hugo Bergman, who was sitting up on the platform with Dr. Helen Kagan and Dr. Benjamin Mazar, in their various capacities as former members
of the faculties or head of various activities (Helen Kagan is the recipient in previous years of an honorary degree from the Hebrew University). Hugo Bergman is the distinguished former Professor of Philosophy, and Mazar is the former President of the Hebrew University, who was elected to that position, after I had turned downed the offer of the presidency from Ben Gurion. I had just taken on the presidency of the Hebew Union college and told Ben Gurion that couldn’t back out of it, but that if he and his associates would do me the honor of inviting me five years hence, I would be glad to consider it. Ben Gurion answered that five years was practically the equivalent of forever in the speedy march of events in Israel. I had furthermore said I wouldn’t take on the job, even if I were free to do so, unless I were clothed with practically dictatorial powers, because I had seen how over the years Judah L. Magnes, the first President of the Univeristy and my very dear friend, had been knocked about by the politicians inside and outside of the University.
Sitting with them were the Rector, Prof. Nathan Rothenstreich, the newly elected President of the University, Avraham Harmon, who is I believe going to be a wonderful President, the Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, who spent most of the time on the platform going over the short speech he made, and the President of Israel, Zalman Shazaar. At either end of that impressive lineup sat Arthur J. Goldberg and Joseph J. Schwartz, upon whom honorary degrees were conferred. The afternoon wore on, the speeches were long – (too few people around know what terminal facilities mean), Richard Tucker was great and Goldberg gave a nice talk. Later on at dinner that evening I had a chance to talk to him for a moment and reminded him of the
first time I met him. Helen and I had been shown to our seats in the review stand of the Inaugural parade, with President-elect John F. Kennedy and his family and others, when Goldberg came over to us and introduced himself, and said that he had brought his rabbi with him, who was seated in the stands in the other side of the street, namely, one of our Hebrew Union College graduates, Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein. I remember his telling me that before he took the oath of office as Secretary of Labor, he asked Rabbi Weinstein to come to his room, and that they prayed together. Mrs. Goldberg was seated in front of us, next to Zena Harmon. She told us she remembered being at our home in Cincinnati some years ago, when we conferred an honorary degree on Goldberg at the Hebrew Union College.
All in all, it was a very impressive afternoon, a little long, but as the sun began to go down, not too hot. Looking across the Wilderness of Judah, I could see the Mountains of Moab and Edom on the east side of the Dead Sea, and I thought of the many times during the five years of the World War II, when I was carrying out my archaeological explorations there and doing other things, I would often camp on top of the hills and look towards the faintly glittering lights of Jerusalem, and wish I could be there or preferably be home.
After the program, we drove directly to the International Hotel, from where I drove with some people back into town. We assembled again, all of us, about 8:15 p.m. at the King David Hotel, and drove up to the Wise Auditorium at the Hebrew University, where Dr. and Mrs. Harmon were giving a gala dinner in honor of Arthur J. Goldberg. There must have been some four hundred people present, and everybody seated very
carefully, husbands and wives separated. I was seated next to Mrs. Zvi Werblowsky, the wife of the brilliant professor of Comparative Religions. Across the way was our good friend, the Dean, or perhaps former Dean, of the Medical School, Professor Rachmilwitch. I remembered that Helen had bade me be sure to invite him again to stay at our home in Cincinnati when he comes there next September for a lecture at the Medical School or something like that. Also across the way was Mrs. Zeev Sharef, the wife of the Minister of Commerce, a most charming and intelligent woman, with whom I had a very enjoyable conversation. To mention all the other people I talked to during and after dinner would compile a list of names of an unusual group of awfully nice people. I talked to our U.S.A Ambassador, Walworth Barbour, for awhile and asked him what he thought of during the nearly two hours of the afternoon program when everything was in Hebrew. He said that this had come up in a conversation between him and Yigael Yadin, who consoled him by saying that is was worse to understand than not to understand what was said – cum grano salis, of course.
By the time the dinner was over, the Tuckers had already left, so I drove downtown with Julian and Madeleine Venetzky in a taxi. Madeleine had never seen our building and asked to be taken through, so I gave them an 11;00 p.m. tour of the building, which of course they liked enormously, as does everybody. Our architect, Ruth Melamede, has now handed in all the corrected drawings, containing the various minute changes that the Jerusalem Municipal Building Office had demanded, and so I hope that before many more weeks pass by we shall finally receive the permit to enable us to go ahead with trying to get a contractor to erect the new building on our property,
for which a generous friend of the Hebrew Union college has already given us the money.
I thought a good deal yesterday afternoon of Judah L. Magnes. I saw Johnny and David and Havah Magnes yesterday afternoon and will shortly call on Beatrice (Mrs. Judah L. Magnes). Judah and I used to walk several times a week from his residence near the American Schools of Oriental Research to his office at the University on Mount Scopus, and then I would return via the Mount Olives, reveling in the wonderful view over the Wilderness of Judah and the Dead Sea that can be obtained from that stretch of the road. I have taken serious umbrage at the fact from yesterday afternoon his name was not mentioned even once. HE was after all the first president of the Hebrew University, did a tremendous amount in getting it established and raised personally most of the money for it during its first years. Weizmann’s name was frequently mentioned yesterday afternoon in connection with the founding of the university, and it should have been, even as there was stressed the fact that he had been the first President of the State of Israel. Not to have referred to Judah Magnes, however, to have passed him over in complete silence, seems to me to have been strange, to put it mildly, and utterly unforgivable. I loved him. He was a great man, and his contributions to Israel and in particular to the Hebrew University were incalculably important. I must look up the talk I delivered on the tenth anniversary of his death at a meeting of the Friends of the Hebrew University in New York City. It was called “The Lion of Judah.” I remembered even then saying that it was surprising how little his name had been mentioned since his death. His memory will, however, live on. His work and person were too great to be expunged from memory and appreciation by passing forgetfulness or pettiness.
Jerusalem, August 2, 1968
The depth of disappointment and worry in Jerusalem and all of Israel over the continuing delay of Algeria to free El AL Boeing jet and its crew and Israeli male passengers are hard to describe in words. There is a tenseness of feeling that is stronger even, it seems to me, than in the month immediately after the outbreak of the Six-Day War and the mounting apprehension about the intentions of the Egyptians and the weakness of the United Nations to prevent an attack by the united Arab nations upon encircled and isolated Israel. Were it not for fear of what might happen to the detained Israeli crew and passengers of the pirated plane, Israel by this time might have taken very strong retaliatory action. It is simply incredible that the Algerians have delayed this long in returning the plane and its crew and passengers. One wonders how low the French can sink in their determination to get Arab concession for oil that they have thus far refrained from making public, official statement with regard to this affair. And France has a tremendous influence in Algeria, although it is being overshadowed by that of Russia.
This afternoon marks the end of the actual digging at Gezer for this season. The staff will remain there over the weekend and perhaps for several days more to go over all the results of the season, finish section drawings of various kinds, and prepare the way for a brief dig in the spring of 1969, to be followed by a fifth season of excavations there in the summer of 1969, again under the auspices of the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem and the Semitic Museum of Harvard University. Bill Dever and Darrell Lance will continue as-48-
Director and Co-Director of the dig, with G. Ernest Wright of Harvard and myself as the members of the Executive Supervisory Committee. One of the main achivements of this season had been the complete exposing of the ten great menhirs, matsevot, huge tall rectangular standing stones, averaging seventeenth century B.C. It is amazing to see how these great stones were literally stuck into the earth, without any bolstering foundations. We have had to build wooden supports against them to prevent them from falling over, after the dirt had been removed from two adjacent sides. We shall fill in the pits, dug to reveal their bases, to prevent their collapse.
Yesterday morning, August 1, our architect and I paid a call on the District Commissioner, Mr. Samuel Yeshaya, to inquire about the status of our request for a building permit. He exclaimed when we began to talk to him that his office had cleared the matter several months ago. When my architect asked why she hadn’t been informed, the answer was that Yeshaya’s office confirms its actions to the City Engineer’s Office, which was supposed to issue the permit. Returning to the School, I called Mr. Marinov, who seems to be the person in command under Mr. Amikam Jaffe, the City Engineer, and told him that I had in my hands a copy of a letter sent to him several weeks ago by our architect, informing him that every slightest change the City Engineer’s Office had specified in our building plans had been made, and that she was hoping to receive the building permit very soon. He replied that he had never received the copy of the letter but would immediately devote his attention to the matter. I shall phone him again this coming Sunday morning, August 4, and if nothing has been done
by that time, I think I shall contact the Prime Minister himself and complain about the incredible inefficacy of local government. The Mayor, Teddy Kollek, is so preoccupied with major political and other concerns that there is little he can do. Besides, I gather the City Engineer’s office or its director is at odds with him, and there is nothing he can do. This kind of inefficiency seems to pervade the entire machinery of government here, and the result in financial terms alone of lost time and delayed accomplishment must amount to many millions of pounds, which Israel can ill afford to lose. Another example of this inefficiency came up today. Our Hebrew Union College students, through the New York office of the Hebrew University, made arrangements for dormitory quarters when they arrived here. The Hebrew University and everybody else in the country is most anxious to have American Jews visit and study here, preferably of course to settle here, but there is a vast gap between their propaganda and reality. Our students arrived yesterday, and no one, but emphatically no one, knew anything about any arrangements having been made for them. Finally some rooms were found, in each of which eight students are being accommodated, if that is the word. As for the others, Ezra Spicehandler has been scurrying about trying to find rooms for them in Arab hotel and pensions in East Jerusalem. There is a terrific need for western trained administration here. Perhaps lately I have been witness to some particularly bad examples of bad administration, and therefore it is not well for me to generalize. The accomplishments and growth of the country are phenomenal. If they have been achieved with this kind of maladministration, then one can say that what could have been achieved would make any past achievements pale into utter insignificance.
Yesterday afternoon I went over to Arthur and Jeannette Lourie’s elegant apartment on Ahad Ha’am Street. The guest of honor was a very intelligent and attractive Indian lady, Miss Santha Rama Rau. Her family is a very highly placed one in India. Her uncle at one time was the Indian U.N. head in New York and all of her family occupy high positions in the government and apparently in civilian life also. She is a Wellesley graduate and speaks and writes most fluently in English. She has a number of books which she has authored. One of the, which the Louries had, is a book about Japan, where she lived when either her father or one of her uncles was ambassador there. She is the guest of the Government of Israel during her three weeks stay in the country, and is obviously very much taken with the country and its people and their accomplishments. She bemoaned the fact that India had not yet recognized Israel. Perhaps now with the increasing realization that Pakistan and the Moslem world with it cannot be appeased by not recognizing Israel, and with India’s growing worry about Russia’s arming Pakistan, the Indians may learn to reconsider their attitude towards Israel. I shall never forget the virulence of the Indian representative in the U.N. against Israel in the Six-Day War period, before, during and after. Apparently, there are powerful public figures in India, like Miss Santha Rama Rau, who are very interested in having friendly relationships established between India and Israel. One of her concerns here is to have Indian agricultural students study here. Cecil Roth and his wife were also at the tea at the Arthur Louries, and a very pretty Hebrew University girl student, whom the Israeli Foreign Office had attached to Miss Santha Rama Rau, was also there.
On Saturday night, July 27, 1968, there was a gala opening of the partly remodeled David’s Citadel at the entrance to Jaffa Gate. A very ambitious project is underway to fix it up in a thorough manner, without damaging its largely Herodian character, and turning it into a City Museum. Out architect, Ruth Melamede, has been commissioned to undertake this tremendous job. There was a sort of “Son et Lumiere” program, with orchestra, choir, readers and singers, and various commissioned works were played, read and sung, under a general title of “Testamonium: Jerusalem.” It was a rather weird mixture of sounds and noises and Arabic and European music and lights on and off, which so-called Tower of David being especially illuminated at times, with actors climbing up and down the walls in solemn processions, and with Kol Yisrael Symphony Orchestra and Choir playing and singing. I thought it was too long, too mixed, too contrived, too cute, and left before the end. There was a large audience seated in the cleared-up courtyard; apparently they stuck it out to the bitter end. In all events, it was a splendid sight, and forms the beginning of the addition of a new attraction for Jerusalem. Or it could be!
That afternoon, Saturday July 27, 1968, Zeev Vilani and his wife gave a very nice reception to the members of our Summer Institute on Near Eastern Civilizations, and invited a goodly number of prominent Jerusalemites to be present. I was a little late getting there, but the party was going full swing when I arrived. The first two people I saw when I came in were Louis Gottschalk and his wife. He just retired as Professor of History at the University of Chicago, where she has been teaching also as Professor of Russian Literature, I believe. Louis Gottschalk
has long been one of the most faithful members of out Weil Committee on Human Relations and Religion that for the that last half dozen years has been conducted under the auspices of the Hebrew Union College, in honor of the memory of the late Frank L. Weil, the beloved quodam Chairman of the Board of Governors of the HUC. Louis Gottaschalk told me his is going to be Visting Professor of History at the University of Louisville. Some of our American Consuls were present, and Professor Benjamin Mazar and Dr. Avram Biram, among others.
That noon, after very beautiful services in our HUC Chapel, I went over to Gita and Miles Sherover’s house. Miles had called me about 9:00 a.m. and asked if I could come, have a swim, and stay for lunch, and meet John Kenneth Galbraith, who was expected for lunch. The Sherovers have beautiful, very large, very luxurious house, build by a South American architect. In addition, there is a large beautiful swimming pool. I drove over after Chapel, said hello to the Sherovers and some of their other guests and then had a good swim. Later on Galbraith came in. He too had a swim and then remained for lunch also. After his swim, he and I had a long discussion about the past history of the country. He expressed particular interest in the Herodian period, about which I know something, due mainly to the extensive research I had to engage in while writing my last book, DEITIES AND DOLPHINS: THE STORY OF THE NABATAEANS. A friendly, very keen, alert, humorous, confident man, he is one of McCarthy’s chief supporters and is busily engaged in campaigning and raising funds for him. It was no clear whether or not he felt McCarthy had a chance, but he did strongly believe that McCarthy had greatly influenced for the better and would continue to do so
the entire outlook of America to the world in general and to the exercise of its power abroad and at home.
Saturday, August 3, 1968
Our chapel was so overcrowded this morning that we had overflow services in the lecture hall, and that couldn’t accommodate everybody. A group of National Federation of Temple Youth and another youth group, the latter without any notice, descended upon us, and we simply haven’t room for that many people. I am ambivalent about this popularity of our services, because I planned them primarily for our own Hebrew Union College students and Israelis and not primarily for visiting American youth and other Americans, as happy in a general way as I am to see and welcome them. By the time we got things settled, moved chairs down from the Library, etc., we were over half an hour late getting started. Ezra Spicehandler consulted with me, and I told him to cut out his sermon. We also skipped the after-Chapel Kiddush because we do not have room downstairs to take care of 400 people. I worry about the visitors from abroad crowding out the Israelis who come here regularly. One Israeli who attended our services for the first time this morning was most enthusiastic about them and wants to return next Saturday morning.
Last night, August 2, 1968, I was at dinner at Mrs. Elisheva Cohen’s. She is the second in command of the Israel Museum, headed by Karl Katz who returned to American for several months stay some time ago. Karl is also heading the Jewish Theological Seminary Jewish Museum in New York City.
How is he going to keep both jobs is beyond me, but if he is able to, more power to him, or “kol ha-kavod,” as they say here, (“All honor” to him). Present also were Mrs. Anna Ticho, the famous artist, Ruth Melamede, our architect, and a Mrs. Trude Goth, a journalist who lives in New York City, has a Hungarian-Australian-Italian background, and has a home building on the island of Elba. When I cam in, the Mesdames Cohen, Ticho and Goth were speaking German, so I joined in in that language. When Ruth Melamede came in we switched to English, because Mrs. Goth doesn’t speak Hebrew. I shall have to find out more about her.
Friday night a week ago, when I was at Hannah and Ed Gelber’s house for dinner, Harry and Rose Wolfson of Toronto were there. He is an economist. I knew them years ago here in Jerusalem but cannot for the life of me remember what he used to do here. Present also was Jack Brin, the president of Super-Sol, Ltd., once headed by Abe (Alan) Feinberg, whom I was pleasantly surprised to meet some weeks ago at the Verdi “Requiem” in Bethlehem, when I bumped into him and his lovely wife and her parents. Abe now has a responsible job with one of the big American record companies and was one of the moving spirits behind the Bethlehem festival. He is a swell human being of whom I am very found. Someone left early from Gelber’s saying she had to bring her teenage daughter home, and someone else said, “Why this is not America. It is safe for her to walk home alone.” And by and large it is, except perhaps in parts of the Old City. If Helen were here, we would return some of the constant entertaining extended to me. I haven’t got the staff to do any real entertaining in my lovely apartmen.t
Last Saturday a number of us from the Gezer expedition visited the excavations at Ai being conducted under the direction of Joe Calloway of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The American School of Oriental Research is also backing the excavations there. The results are very interesting, particularly for the early Bronze Age periods. He proposes to continue there and in the vicinity for at least another five years. That answers in part the question as to whether or not the American Schools of Oriental Research will continue to do archaeological work on the west side of the Jordan. The answer is most emphatically “Yes.” The ASOR will also do work in Jordan proper and in Lebanon and Syria and sooner or later in Turkey. It is already doing archaeological work in Iraq. There is no competition between the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School in Jerusalem on the west side of the Jordan. There is enough archaeological work for a hundred schools and expeditions.
Rabbit Stuart Rosenberg and his wife were also at the Gelbers last Friday night. He is the Conversative Rabbit of Toronto and is a very capable and popular rabbi. His wife, Hadassah, is getting her Ph.D. in archaeology at the University of Toronto.
I heard today, and there is no way of ascertaining how much truth there is to the story, that an Israeli diplomat bearing a pouch with very important secret messages was supposed to have been on the El Al plane pirated by the terrorists and forced to land in Algiers. He was delayed for some reason, however, and took a later plane. The story may be completely apocryphal. The affair is in everybody’s hearts and minds and weights terribly heavy on all of us. This noon after Chapel I went over to
Gita and Miles Sherover’s place for a swim and lunch. General Uzi Narkis, who has just taken a civilian post as one of the heads of the immigration and absorption department of either the Jewish Agency or the Government was there. He played a central role in this area in the Six-Day War but now, with several other top officers, has gone into civilian administrative service. He was plied with questions about the plane and its crew and passengers, but seemed to know nothing more than the rest of us. The Algerians are apparently going to make capital out of the incident, and Israel can do little as long as the lives of the detained crew and passengers could be endangered.
Jerusalem, August 24, 1968
In about twenty minutes Chapel services begin at 10:00 a.m. If this Saturday is like the others of the last two months, the place will be overcrowded. Despite the fact that the services are completely in Hebrew, there is a large and sometimes overflowing American attendance. I am of two minds about it. I welcome it and the Reform and Conservative Rabbits who come with their friends and groups and all of whom leave with ecstatic reactions to our services, – even those who can’t understand a word of Hebrew. There have been large contingents of various NFTY groups, which we like to have. Several times we have had to pipe the services into the large lecture hall, formed by opening the divided doors. On one occasion, a group came unannounced, some several hundred strong, and there was confusion and annoyance. Even opening the lecture hall couldn’t contain -57-
that extra number, and many were forced to leave. It really isn’t fair if we aren’t notified in advance. I say I am of two minds, because there is a danger of squeezing out the Israelis who have been coming regularly to our services. One of my purposes was to present a religious service in Israel, which would be aesthetically and intellectually attractive, especially for the people of Israel…That has proven to be the case, except for two or three Orthodox Jews who have wandered in and hastened out upon seeing women seated together with men, and hearing music played on the flute and cello, in addition to the singing and reading of the cantor and the two women of the choir. It is a continuingly beautiful service, conducted this year by our Director of Jewish Studies, Dr. Ezra Spicehandler of our faculty, whose brief and eloquent sermons are delivered in impeccable Hebrew. If we had a much larger Chapel we could easily fill it every week. We do not conduct services on Friday night, in order not to compete with the World Union for Progressive Judaism Synagogue, called Har-El. I am returning to Cincinnati in a little over a week, on September 2nd to be exact, and therefore will miss the High Holydays here. If Helen were with me, I would certainly stay.
Our Hebrew Union College students have practically all arrived, and have been examined and divided into three classes. They will take various courses with us, and those qualified will take courses at the Hebrew University. They will have to satisfy Ezra Spicehandler at the end of the year by means of examination and otherwise that they have fulfilled requirements equal to those of HUC if they want to get credits to count towards their Rabbinic programs at HUC in America.
The services were not overflowing this morning. I guess the tourist tide has ebbed. Ezra gave the Aliya this morning to one of our Israeli regulars. When I read the prayer for the State and the President, I inserted a prayer for the people of Czechoslovakia. Ezra preached on the subject today and read a translation of a moving prayer that was composed years ago by Karl Copek, when the country was first overwhelmed by the Nazi Germans.
This afternoon Ezra and I took our HUC students and their wives on a several hours walk. I guided them on a walk that I particularly like. I took them to Abu Tor where the boundary lines used to be.
I rarely listen to the radio, but as I’m typing I have opened it and am listening to the Voice of America and to the debate at the United Nations on Czechoslovakia. I’m closing it, however, after having listened to President Johnson and our U.N. Ambassador Ball deliver their excellent statements. I hope that the United States finally agrees to sell the fifty Phantoms to Israel, which again is demonstrating that it is only the power of the Middle East that can be counted upon to conduct itself according to western democratic principles. The sniveling sycophancy of the Arab states in justifying the Russian Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia ought to convince our State Department that Israel needs enough arms to maintain a balance of power in this part of the world, which otherwise is prepared to serve at the beck and call of the Russian government. The rearming of the Arabs by the Russians, and the increasing stridency of their demands for a fourth round are alarming. The West should be aware of the fact that if, heaven forfend, Israel were to fall, the vital interests and ultimate
safety of America also would be gravely threatened. To return to the walk. At Abu Tor, I showed our group where the barrier and the barbed wire border used to be, and the house where the Jordanian sentries used to stand. This area has now been cleaned up, and one can walk straight down the picturesque road that winds around the back way towards Bethlehem. We reached this road, and then turned more or less northward and followed it downhill to the village of Siloam, past the Pool and Spring of Siloam, and then up to the Tombs of Absalom, Zacharias, etc., and then through the Lions’ Gate into the Old City. A few shops were closed, perhaps as a result of the Arab strike of yesterday and the day before, but the Old city was packed. I was wondering when or if the military would do what they did last summer when once or twice some of the shops in the Old City closed in a strike gesture. The military simply padlocked them and wouldn’t let them open afterwards for considerable periods of time.
The walk downhill towards Siloam gives one a view of the walls of the Old City that is simply breathtaking. One can see how the hill on which the Solomonic and Herodian cities and before them the Jebusite city occupied a strikingly commanding position.
On Thursday, August 22nd, I was received by President Zalman Shazar at 10:30 a.m. After a brief wait I was ushered in and warmly welcomed. I had seen him last summer, when he presided over a large meeting to discuss the aftermath of the Six Days War, and at which occasion I too gave a talk which subsequently, with some of the others, has been printed in Hebrew. The President reminded me that he had picked up one of the phrases I had used in his own summary of the sessions. Like everybody else, he was
downcast by the tragic turn of events of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, accompanied by armed contingents of its satellite states, straightjacketed into a servile attack on any glimmerings of freedom. I cannot but believe that Russia has mad a tragic mistake. The ideas of freedom cannot be gainsaid or throttled. They overleap all borders and barriers and nullify the most awesome weapons. The Russian solder who is reported to have shot himself in shame in the central square of Prague symbolized the conscience of humanity, that may be throttled for a time in one person or a nation, but cannot be choked off forever. If Russia is to play a successful part in the modern world, with increasing concern for the wellbeing of its own citizens, then it simply cannot forever continue to throttle the freedoms that go with the modern social structure and the developments of science, that ultimately must be based on the freedom to seek and freely interpret and impart knowledge and opinion. President Shazar told me that he had known well Thomas Masaryk, had spoken to Jan Masaryk a week before he was murdered and thrown out of the window of his office. He told me that Rabbi Leo Baeck of blessed memory had been very close to Thomas Masaryk and his and to Benesch. I am not sure whether or not President Shazar himself comes from Prague. There are numerous wonderful people in Israel, many of them who had a powerful effect upon the formation of cultural life here, who originally came from the quondam fabulous Jewish community of Prague. I think at the moment of Hugo Bergman, for instance, who I am pretty sure came from there. Most of our conversation was taken up with the somber events in Czechoslovakia. President Shazar asked about our School here and was pleased to learn how many of our HUC
students were going to spend a year here, with the prospect that next year there would be even a larger number.
On Wednesday night, August 21, 1968, had dinner with John Warrington and his fifteen year old daughter, Anne. His son, George, had left for America that morning. John and these two of his children had come over for a brief visit to Israel, and my office here had made arrangements, which worked, for him to pick up a Hertz car at Lydda airport when he arrived, and had made reservations for him at St. George Hotel, near the American Schools of Oriental Research. It is a very nice, quite new, Arab run hotel, that suffered little from the Six Day War. The tourist trade is picking up so rapidly that all the hotels also on the east side of the city are beginning to be packed. If it continues this way, there will be no room anywhere for people who haven’t made their reservations long in advance. The pirating of the El-Al plan has not caused the slightest ripped in the air traffic. Everyone waits here daily, hourly, for the news that the crew and passengers and plan detained so wrongly in Algiers have been released.
John Warrington is an old friend of mind from Cincinnati. He is a lawyer, and is now president of the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Fine Arts Museum in Eden Park. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Schools of Oriental Research. I am also a trustee of both organizations. His father was a friend of mine, too, and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Cincinnati, when I got my first honorary degree, – the one I have always appreciated most because, I guess, it was the first and because I was comparatively young then, aged 36.
A couple of nights before, on Monday night, August 19th, I had had some
of the people from the American School of Oriental Research over to my apartment for an after dinner part to meet John Warrington. Besides him and myself and the Devers and Darrell Lance and Dean Moe of our Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School, I had the Director of the American School of Oriental Research, Kermit Schoonover and his wife Grace, whom I had known many years earlier when they were stations at the Quaker School in Ramallah, Joe Calloway, with his wife, who is staying at the ASOR for six months, and who has been conducting excavations at Ai again this summer and proposes to continue there for a number of years, and Paul and Nancy Lapp. Paul has been conducting excavations at Ta’anach. There was some doubt among the ASOR people last year, which I tried in vain then to dispel, that the Israel Department of Antiquities would not renew their licenses to dig at the above mentioned sites, including also Shechem, – all of which before the Six Day War has been in Jordan territory. I assured them then, which turned out indeed to be to be the case, that the Israel Department of Antiquities would most assuredly give permits to excavate to any competent archeologists backed by proper universities or foundations or organizations such as the Smithsonian Museum. Indeed, there is no question in my mind, and I don’t think there is any in theirs either now, that if they want to dig in Israel in area that were previously inaccessible to them from the Jordan side, they would unquestionably be given permits by the Israel Department of Antiquities. I wish it were possible to say the same for a person like myself who might like to dig in Jordan. I purposely brought up the question of whether or not the ASOR property should be sold, and the ASOR move to a new location out near Ramallah, because in its
present location it is now surrounded by business and residence and hotel and cinema structures, although the buildings of the ASOR are set back far enough in their grounds so that the street noises are not disturbing. The questions was also raised as to whether the ASOR should sell out and leave Israel altogether and operate only in Arab countries. There was a long and lively discussion, with perhaps everything not being said as openly as it might if I were not present, – although I don’t think so. I forgot to say that Gus van Beek and his wife Colynn were present too. One of the statements made dealt with “what the ASOR owed to the Arab world”! The answer that several gave, including John Warringotn and myself, was that as a scientific school the ASOR owed nothing to anybody, and had to be guided by the most objective scientific considerations only. Another statement was made, not too clearly but it was there anyway, that if the ASOR operated in territories controlled by Israel, the Arab world would not permit it to engage in archaeological activities in its areas. Our answer was that the ASOR was operating in Jordan and that if the objectives of the ASOR were to be guided by political considerations, there was no certainty of its being able to operate at all. The Arab governments, with the exception of Jordan, were and are all anti-American anyway, as evinced again in their almost unanimous agreeing with Russia’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and associating themselves with the preposterous claim that it was aimed against imperialism and America and Zionism. How Zionism got dragged into the picture by the Russians is beyond me, but there you are.
The conversation continued to the effect that there was plenty of room in Israel for two American schools, namely the HUCBASJ and the ASOR,
particularly with our interesting trustees, and that there was enough work on the west side of the Jordan for many more expeditions than both of our schools could possibly mount. There was near unanimity of opinion that to sell the present property of the ASOR and move out towards Ramallah would be a mistake. All the advantages of nearness of libraries, like that of the École Biblique and the numerous others would be lost, etc., and the noise of the business district in which the ASOR is located did not disturb the people of the ASOR, and that one couldn’t consider really the value of the property in the sense of its being too expensive to sit on it and not sell it and invest part of the yield for income and use the rest to build a new school. The adding of one more wing to the quadrangle of the ASOR and modernizing the existing structures somewhat would achieve the most satisfactory results.
There had been a reception at the ASOR some night before for Paul and Nancy Lapp, who are going to the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the only ones from the west side invited were the Devers. Another reception was to be held the night after my little party, with most of the invitees coming form the west side. I decided not to go, although I told Ezra Spicehandler that there was no objection on my part to his going. Schoonover, I think, had been given lists by Paul Lapp and had sent out his invitations accordingly. He is definitely not of the breed of last year’s director of ASOR. There is no reason why with good judgment, a certain amount of firmness and integrity, the same situation should not again be created at the ASOR that existed when I directed the ASOR in stormy years in the past, – namely, that scholars of all groups and
religions met there. If I were at the HUCBASJ more regularly, I would try to bring about just that kind of situation here. In time Dever and Spicehandler will, I hope, be able to achieve just that.
I forgot to say, I believe, earlier in this letter that last Friday morning, August 23rd, I called on Père Roland de Vaux at the École Biblique et Archaeologique Francaise. He was his usual delightful, effervescent, ebullient self. He asked after Helen and Charles. He is coming to America again this fall, – this time to deliever a series of lectures at Oberlin and other colleges. I last saw him in American in 1965 when he was there on a lecture tour, an gave a lecture at HUC in Cincinnati, which is now to be included in those being collected under the Goldenson lectures and put out a single volume by the HUC Press. I had seen him at that period a few weeks earlier, or perhaps later, I forget, when both of us were given honorary degrees at Holy Cross College.
Last Tuesday, August 20th, I was invited by the President and Treasurer of the Jewish Agency, Aryeh (Louis) Pincus to meet him in his office. Inasmuch as I was pretty sure it would have something to do with my plans for having more of our HUC rabbinic students spend a year of study in Israel, about which Ezra Spicehandler and I had previously spoken to him, I asked Ezra to come along. We has conversations along this line last summer or last spring when I was here, and Pincus was supposed to write me a letter of mutual understanding, – which he never did. Anyway, we had a most pleasant meeting, and he wrote out by hand an agreement for three years between Jewish Agency and the Hebrew Union College to help as many as fifty of out HUC students spend a year of study here in Jerusalem. This is
not the place to go into details of out mutual understanding, until I have discussed them with the Chairman of our Board of Governors, Mr. S. L. Kopald, Jr. I sent him an airmail letter from Kantara in the Suez Canal a couple of weeks ago, but not remembering his exact address, simply mailed it to Memphis, Tennessee. I hope he got it. I’ll try to describe the trip to Sinai and along the Suez Canal later in in this letter. Louis Pincus is one of the nicest people I know and obviously is going a great job as head of the Jewish Agency with its manifold activities and complicated relationship to the Israeli Government. I had sent him copies of the new and corrected paperback edition of my RIVERS IN THE DESERT put out by Norton and Company and of the practically new, considerably revised and enlarged THE RIVER JORDAN, which he happily acknowledge again to me but said he hadn’t read yet, although he intended to. I quoted to him Disraeli’s old saw in acknowledging the receipt of a book when he wrote: “I assure you that I shall lose no time reading tour book.”
Sunday, August 25, 1968
It is a beautiful day. I wandered about in our garden very early in the morning. The jasmine underneath my window is in full fragrance. On our upper terrace, I photographed later on some of the beautiful fruit growing on our pomegranate tree. The pomegranates look as if they should be ripe in a few days. For some time now I have been eating almonds from the two almond tress on this terrace, and also fresh figs, which ripen
daily. We also have a grapevine but our gardener, Motke, cut it back last year, so it will take some time to bear fruit. In the lover garden I photographed the three trees I planted in honor of my grandchildren. The trees are flourishing. It is amazing the changes that have been wrought on this two acre hill of ours in the past five years. It is a green and calm island in the heart of the city. Out view eastward over the Old City walls is better than ever before. The tremendously capable Mayor, Teddy Kollek, had had all the war debris of the last twenty years that scarred and blackened the beginnings of the Hinnom Valley removed and the entire wall of the Old City from Jaffa Gate going northward cleared, so that it can be seen in its original form as first built in Herodian foundations in early Turkish time.
I’ll be leaving soon, just about a week from now for America, and this will there fore probably be the last newsletter I shall write this time, until I get back again. The strike in the Old City is over definitely, and the Suq continues to be packed with people, Arabs and Israelis freely mingling together in friendly commerce. The little antiquity shop near the Siloam spring, which is run by a partnership of an Arab and an Israeli, had some nice ancient pottery yesterday but the prices were too high for me.
Monday, August 26, 1968
Yesterday noon Ezra Spicehandler and I had lunch with Col. Mordecai Bar-on, formerly chief education officer of the Israel Armed Forces and now Head of Hechalutz and Youth Department of the Jewish Agency.
The discussion turned much in the possibility of the Israel Government’s assistance in building dormitory facilities for the increasing number of out Hebrew Union College rabbinic students, who come here to spend a year of study in Israel. Bar-on or Mereleh, as he his known, is a very attractive chap, whom I have known for quite a few years now. At times he has lectured here at the HUCBASJ to the memebers of our annual Summer Institute on Near Eastern Civilizations.
We had lunch at the Eden Hotel, which still maintains the excellent cuisine that has characterized it for years, and which is a center for meetings of important personalities. At the table next to us sat Pinhas Sapir, who until recently was Minister of Finance and had now taken Golda Meir’s place as Secretary of the Labour Party. With him was his successor Zeev Sharef, whom I have known for years, and who was very helpful to me some eight years ago when I wangled the deal with the Israeli Government that resulted in our getting ten dunams of land in the heart of the city for the purpose of building our School, for which I pay the symbolic rental of one Israeli pound per year. I greeted both of them, and when Sapir left he made a point of stopping by our table and talking to me.
I must mention in this chronicle another of my recent meeting with Kando, the original dealer in the Dead Sea Scrolls, who was involved last year with the confiscation from him of another fabulously important Dead Sea Scroll which he had had for twenty years or more. I had advised him last June to get a good Jewish lawyer, which he did, one Tuisa Cohen, and fight the case without fear of reprisals against him. To make a long story short, the case was decided in his favor, and he got the Government of
Israel the sum of $105,00.00 for the Scroll, the contents of which Yigael Yadin had already published. Had Kando been able to smuggle the Scroll to America, there is little doubt that he could have sold it for a very much higher price. Yadin had offered him $45,000.00 for it, which he turned down indignantly. I hadn’t been to see him for a couple of weeks and dropped in the other day. HE told me that he had been on a fast trip to Switzerland with Tusia Cohen, remaining only for a few days. When I asked him what the purpose of th trip was, he told me openly that it was to deposit $100,000.00 in a numbed account in a Swiss bank. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a million dollars in numbered accounts in Swiss Banks. He carried the money, he told me, in a bundle of cash in his pocket. How much all of this is true I couldn’t swear, but it makes interesting hearing. His reputation is so great that his travel agent, he tell me, was able to get him upped with extra charge from tourist to first-class in their airplane trip.