THE JEW AND THE LAND
The Jew is a gypsy with a weakness for real estate.
The very first promise the Lord made to Abraham was a promise of land: land already occupied and the lawful property of the peoples who had fertilized it. Genesis and Exodus are crowded with specific references to the many peoples who lived in the land of promise before the birth of Abraham, and before its fierce invasion by the seed of Abraham under Joshua. At no time in the narrative is the matter of the titles of these ancient proprietors of Canaan brought into question. But the most microscopic study of the texts reveals not even the hint of a plan by which, when the Jews were to possess the land, the title to it was to pass legitimately to them. There was no offer made for outright purchase, such as Abraham himself had made for the burial ground of Machpelah. No offer of a periodic lease either. It was deemed sufficient to repeat the oral legend that the Lord had promised the land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their posterity, forever. On this slender pretense (which reminds one of the extraordinary reason given by Norman William to his home-legislators for invading England) the Jews marched into Palestine, slaughtered most of its inhabitants, and proceeded to make a pig-stye of the whole country.
Suppose the records of this first great conquest of Israel were not as detailed and as indisputable as they are? Would there not be an inclination on the part of the more civilized Jews of our day to dispute that it really happened? Instead of adopting the story as sacred scripture, I conceive that Jews might even have advanced the theory that it was nothing but a false series of accusations, the ancient world's peculiar contribution in advance to anti-Semitism. But the Jewish history, that to throw doubt on the Jewish Conquest of Palestine would shake the world's belief in our very identity as a race and as a nation. That's why, instead of trying to deny the shameless story, the Jews are trying to re-enact it - in a more modern and more moderate setting.
I began by saying that we Jews have a weakness for real estate. I mean real estate as distinguished from land. People with a love of land are anxious to work it. They have a passion not only to live on the soil but pierce it and fructify it. But, as I have already shown, the Old Testament is a solemn testimony of the Jewish People's hatred of work - particularly agricultural. In the wilderness, on their march to conquest, God had to practically rain food down on the Jews in order to keep them going. A hundred times, under the reluctant leadership of Moses who must have hated them bitterly, they refused to take another step forward. And the Lord, in order to get them to go on, to save the sweet breath of the desert, was compelled to promise them that their labors would be at an end on reaching the Promised Land, where the cities were already built for them, the vineyards planted and ready to nourish them.
Jewish historians and apologists make a hue and cry about the Jews having been barred everywhere from the ownership of land, during the Middle Ages, and even in some countries in the modern world. They would have you believe that the Jew's extraordinarily repugnant ghetto character is not the result of an inner evolution from a bad kernel but the result of hostile, frustrating outside forces that have molded him into the terrible anomaly he presents before the world today so that he is the blighted flowering of a fine sowing.
This is not true. The Jews did not seize the opportunity offered them by Edward I, to rent English land and till it. Nor have they seized opportunities in England and in America in our own time.  The reason why? Jews know only one use for the ownership of land - or of anything. Speculation. And there you have the real reason why the Christian world is so reluctant to permit the Jews to buy land; and why, as I write these words, Arabians are marching through the streets of Jerusalem protesting against the English government's threat to allow Jews even more freedom of movement than they already enjoy in Palestine.
In the things in which the gentile world does not mind speculation it has allowed the Jew every liberty of enterprise. In those few things, however, in which the prejudices are against speculation, it has restricted the Jew decisively and sometimes violently. Now I have no set opinion on whether speculation is good or not for the welfare of society. But I do recognize that there is an indefensible evil in the speculation of land. Let me illustrate.
I am the owner of a precious robe. One day, finding myself in need of money, I sell this robe. I care not who buys it from me or to whom the purchaser will eventually resell it, precious as may be the memories the robe holds for me. Suppose, as in its multiple career of sale and re-sale, it should came about that it falls into the possession of a Satzkin? I might even be so unfortunate as to see it beloused over his cankerous shoulders, yet I wouldn't care. I have sold the robe, and therefore I am through with it. On the other hand, I own a piece of land next to the land on which I have built my own house. Suppose under the same need of money, I sold this piece of land to a fellow Jew? Might I not awake some morning, and, looking out of my window for a glimpse of the bright sky, find by the agency of a hateful face seen through glass, that the new house built on the land next to mine, belonged to such a Satzkin? Do you now see my point? Is it not apparent to you that my whole life might thereby be made quite unbearable for me?
That is only one of the reasons why the world is reluctant to permit Jews to own property. Civilized people attach a certain mild sanctity to the ownership of land - a sanctity the Jew can be depended upon to violate every time.
So that when the Jewish apologist whines:
"If we had not been forbidden the ownership of land during the Middle Ages we would not today be a nation of idlers," he lies in his throat. We were a nation of idlers to begin with. Our sole interest in land has always been in its speculative value as a turnover.
But about fifty years ago a miracle took place in Israel. Almost a generation before the birth of political Zionism, a group of Russian-Jewish students left their homes, families and prospects of a future, to wander on foot to Palestine, to till the soil there, and so spend out the juices of their natural lives. Two powerful forces moved these marvelous young men on this momentous march of despair: the persecution of the Czar's government from without, and the sight of the awful depravity of their own people from within. It was given to them to realize, in a flash of unhappy inspiration, that no matter what happened to the world or to themselves, they were lost. It was futile for them to hope to reconcile themselves with the insane whims of the Imperial Russian government as with the slovenly and degrading conduct of the real Jewish world into which they had been born. Traditionally, Palestine was the only Jewish home they knew of. So, without consulting national or personal wisdom, they set out on their unprecedented journey. There was not even a glimmering of personal ambition in what they did, or of a political vision. They were going to Palestine to work with their hands and die. They were the Halutzim.
I have before me a Hebrew book entitled Yizkor which is a simple memorial to the poor Halutzim whom I hesitate to call Jews. Were they really Jews? I hardly know. But I will stake the immortality of my soul that they were amongst the most beautiful people on the face of the earth. I see them starting out of their humble homes with just enough money to purchase them water and crusts of bread on the unfriendly highways. Certainly they do not take along with them money with which to buy favors. When they reach Palestine they approach the land as did Jehudah Halevy, four centuries before them, on their hands and knees. All they ask of the Turkish masters of the land is the freedom to till the wretched centuries-neglected soil alongside of the poor Arabs. The Turks offered them little real opposition. Even the Arabs, distrustful of everything else in an apparently treacherous world, learned to like them.
Poor Halutzim and their vain vision of life of peace! They thought that by escaping from the Ghetto into Palestine they had got away from the meanness of the Ghetto, and there it was in full bloom before them in the Jewish Quarter of the city of David.
Before the coming of the Halutzim the only Jews in Jerusalem were the charity (Halukah) Jews, who lived by a special fund collected from the boxes posted on the doors of the Jews in Russia and in Poland. The intention of this charity was, while the law made it possible, to preserve a Jewish population in Palestine - as a reminder to the world whom the land really belonged to. Much money was brought into Palestine yearly from these tin boxes, but the charity Jews added to this source of income by soliciting alms at the Wailing Wall. So ugly was the sight that Sir Moses Montefiore, on his visit to Jerusalem, was moved to protest. They seemed to him, he said quite plainly, no more than a degraded set of paupers. He was instrumental in building for them schools and houses and a mill outside of the city near Birkel-El-Sulta, or Lower Pool of Sihon, but the poor wretches were too lazy to take advantage of the opportunity and it all went to ruin. The Halutzim knew when they started out that there were Jews in Jerusalem. But it had never occurred to them that they would be even lower in the scale of civilization than the Jews they had run away from.
Those old Jerusalem parasites hated the Halutzim, and they had two very substantial reasons for hating them. In the first place, the Halutzim refused point-blank to subscribe to the synagogue and its rigid procedure. And in the second place, those outrageously independent young fellows actually worked, and with their bare hands. Such a thing had never been heard of among Jews. It would certainly never do to let the goyim see. What evil might not fall on themselves if the Turks and Arabs, by observing the Halutzim, got the grotesque idea that Jews might be expected to work like other people. As a consequence the charity Jews conspired against the poor unsuspecting Halutzim. They told the Turks that the poverty of the Halutzim was only a cleaver disguise. The Halutzim were the agents of European Jewish bankers who had their eyes on the ownership of Palestine. The first step in their program was to organize the Arabs against their ruler. The Arabs, on the other hand, were led to believe that the Halutzim were really spies in the pay of the Turks, so that every movement of theirs might be noted and suppressed. Otherwise, how was it that the Turks treated them with so much more consideration than they had ever before extended to foreigners? The result of this bit of Jewish scheming was that the bones of many poor Halutz prematurely whitened the Arabian desert because of death by sudden violence.
The movement of the Halutzim grew. Once they had settled themselves on the legendary Jewish soil, they wrote back to their friends and relatives in Russia: The soil here is hard and bitter. The Jews one sees in Jerusalem are even shabbier than those to be found in the kremlach of Minsk and Lemberg. But it's a lovely thing to have land that you can till even if three quarters of the land is desert. What a relief, after centuries of Goluty, not to have to barter and hawk. . . . For whether it is in the market place or in the court room the business of a Jew is to barter and to hawk. . . . It is beautiful here by comparison. . . .
And so more and more young Jews wandered out of Russia and Poland on this extraordinary pilgrimage of labor.
Meanwhile Jews all over the world, but particularly in Eastern Europe, began to organize societies called Chovevi Zion meaning Lover of Zion. The Lovers of Zion were a direct offshoot of the passion of the Halutzim, but it was not the passion of a pure heart, it was the old lustful bestiality with which Joshua had laid waste Canaan. The Jewish passion for real estate was reasserting itself in the modern world. The Lovers of Zion had no economic or political program: they were actuated by an undirected lusting after land. It was not through these mean little people that political Zionism came into being. Theodore Herzl, whose pamphlet Der Judenstaat created the Zionist movement, was in body and in heart like one of these Halutzim of whose very existence he did not become aware until he found himself, overnight, the new leader of the Jews.
History will always speak of Theodore Herzl with love and respect. He was a Jew whose life mingled easily with the life of the gay sophisticated people of Vienna, the city of his birth. He was a handsome man, a witty conversationalist, and the most brilliant journalist in Central Europe. The Dreyfus affair recalled him to the fact that he was a Jew. In Paris, whither the Neue Freue Presse had sent him to report the Affair, he saw the most humiliating posters ridiculing Jews, displayed in shop windows. He heard Parisians marching through the streets crying Death to the Jews. He came to a very simple conclusion. If we are so hopelessly offensive to the world, he pleaded, why should we continue to impose ourselves on it? Let us go somewhere (he did not, in the beginning specify Palestine) where we may build up a world of our own.
The First Zionist Congress, of which he was the natural leader, settled on Palestine as the land. But Herzl was studying his Jewish history, and he was learning very quickly about the Jewish People and Jewish methods from direct observation. This was not going to be another blind, violent grab as Joshua had engineered before him, he determined. He set down before the Jewish People two unalterable conditions under which he would lead them: 1. The Jewish homeland must be legally secured and legally assured. 2. No individual Jew must be allowed to own land, so as to be able to sell it. All land in Palestine was to be purchased from the Arabs from a common national fund and remain the property of the whole people for all time.
Herzl was probably the first honest Jew in the public life of the world in two thousand years. From the moment he became known to the general Jewish masses Herzl was transformed into a living Jewish legend beloved by the extensive communities of his people all over the world but secretly hated by every individual leader of Jews - except, of course, Zangwill, the good Zangwill as Herzl always referred to him. Here was the rarest of all terrestrial things, a Jew without the itch for money or real estate. A Jew who worked all day for Zion and spent his nights writing for the Viennese press, as a means of making his livelihood, for he not only refused to accept money for his work as a Jewish leader, he insisted on being the first contributor to every fund that was created for Jews. A Jew who, offered by Colonel Pond fifty thousand dollars for a ten weeks tour of America, replied that he could not sell the ideas of the Jewish People.
An irresistible leader was Herzl. There was nothing for Jews to do but follow where he led. The Rothschilds yielded to his every whim. The Baron of Hirsch, that obdurate old man, listened to Herzl wonderingly and affectionately. Even the goyim yielded to his spell: the memoirs of Kaiser, Sultan, King and Pope praise the sweet honesty of the man. Yes, even the yellow little Satzkin followed him. (Does it make much difference whether you pronounce the name Satzkin or Ussischkin?) They followed him, but true to their deeper natures they kept up a dismal yelping at his heels. Their evil faces, by showing themselves before him from morning till night, constantly reminded him of the meanness of his burden. I know what it is to look at the face of one Satzkin. Herzl had to look at hundreds, thousands of them. Herzl was not physically delicate. As the leader of any other people he would have lived to be a hundred. At the head of a nation of Satzkin he was doomed. After seven Jewish Congresses, they broke his heart. In 1904, when he died, there was practically nothing left of Herzl to bury in the cemetery of his beloved Vienna. The Satzkins had eaten him alive.
The death of Herzl doomed the Palestine of the Halutzim. Under the guise of honoring their dead leader's memory, at first they began purchasing land individually and in groups. After a while they even abandoned creating pretexts for their purchases. And buying land in Palestine became a race between Jewish investors and the Jewish National Fund which was practically paralyzed into inactivity. Until today Palestine is not the land conceived in the heart of Herzl but another evil concoction of the Ghetto.
William Zuckerman, a correspondent for the Jewish Morgen Journal, creates in a recent issue of Harper's Magazine a devastating picture of what is happening today in Palestine. It has become a center of speculation such as the Jews have never created anywhere else in the world before. Every day new businesses are being opened and machinery is being installed. It would seem that every Jewish businessman in Poland is planning to move his business from Poland to Palestine. That they are practically uprooting themselves in one land without the certainty of being ever able to take root again in the other, doesn't seem to bother them at all. It is the old gypsy with a weakness for real estate on the move again.
Several kinds of booms are taking place at the same time. There is, for instance, a building boom. Wherever there is an empty lot an empty house springs up overnight. Not that there are people waiting to occupy these houses. It is just that Jews who were accustomed to speculating in Warsaw, in Vienna and in London are trying their luck with speculating in Jerusalem. Another speculation is in orange-groves, not restricted to Palestine. All over Europe and even in America, where we have become a trifle suspicious of manufactured booms, Jews float orange-grove companies in which stocks and shares are sold.
It was bad enough when the old charity Jews confounded the Palestinian landscape. But there was one comfort, with the charity Jews. A charity Jew could only live a certain length of time, when he died there was nothing left of him, he left no heir. The new Jews who have come to exploit Palestine are just as mean as the charity Jews, probably meaner. But they bring their wives with them, and, what is terrible, reproduce their kind.
"Already on arriving in Tel-Aviv," writes Mr. Zuckerman, who apparently was an eye witness, "one is surrounded by a swarm of brokers, real estate sharks, business entrepreneurs, high pressure salesmen, money lenders, usurers, and speculators of every kind, each offering a new business venture, each outbidding and denouncing his competitor, each greedily seeking to grab a commission and to snatch a share of the wealth which he did nothing to produce."
"Was it not," inquires Mr. Zuckerman, "in order to escape from the futility and the contempt which go with the non-productive ghetto occupations that Zionism was devised? Of what use would it be to the people even to gain its livelihood - assuming that such a fantastic event were possible - if it loses by it the soul which it has begun to regain?"
If this is the bitterness of a New York Jew, picture to yourself the feeling of the poor Halutzim who journeyed to Palestine with their bare feet, as they witness the rape of the holy land by the old Ghetto.
The Ghetto has placed everything in Palestine for sale - even the memories of the Halutzim who died for it. So often have they sold the weary lots of Jerusalem that you have to pay, in the business section of this town, with a population of less than fifty thousand, twice as much per lot as you would have to pay in the heart of New York City which has a population of more than six millions and enjoys a steady water supply.
Houses are built every day. But where are the people to live in them? Factories of all kinds are opened, but for whom are its products to be manufactured? More orange-groves are being organized than could be planted in Palestine with Sahara Desert appended to it as a province.
At first the Halutzim protested. But they realized quick enough the stubborn temper of the people they tried to interfere with. Now they stand aside to watch with narrowing eyes the approach of catastrophe. They know what usually follows any inflation of industry, as a result of pure speculation. But this will not be the usual sore of economic crash. The deceit practiced in Palestine was not of a people on itself, but of a people on another people, of the Jews on the Arabs. What will happen when the Arabs discover that land which they have been told is worth fifteen hundred dollars a lot isn't worth that much an acre? Do you think they will merely smile good-naturedly and mildly discuss ways and means out of the confusion into which their lives have been thrown?
Of one thing the Halutzim are quite certain. The Satzkins and all their speculation will, in the fury of a disillusioned people, be broken up and crushed to the earth. Those who escape slaughter will be banished like so many diseased cattle. With them will go the terrible industrial stench with which the shores of the Jordan are today troubled.
What, then? Will everything go? Will the loving toil of the Halutzim have been entirely in vain? Will the destroying fury stop nowhere?
I believe that a stopping-place has been created for the fury of the Arabs. It is the University of Jerusalem. Already the Arabs regard it with a certain amount of pride and affection. The Arabs are no fools. They will not wantonly destroy the instrument of their own salvation.
The Arabs, I predict, will allow to remain untouched the simple buildings of the University of Jerusalem. Around them a new civilization will arise. But it will not be a Jewish civilization. Nor will it be an Arab civilization. It will be something new created of the mingling of Jews and Arabs.
The dim signs of hope in Palestine are these:
1. The Halutzim, a few honest Jews who are still trying to stand off, in the midst of the horrible commerce of the transplanted Ghetto, the oceans of filth which are pouring into the streets of Jerusalem through the medium of the Zionist Organization;
2. The University of Jerusalem which, with its slender means, is opening the doors of universal knowledge to Jews and Arabs alike;
3. The presence, as the virtual head of the University of Jerusalem, of Judah L. Magnes.
Repeat that name for yourself. Judah L. Magnes. It is a name which will grow more and more glamorous every day. It is a name which links itself with all that remains left of beauty in the Jewish world today.
Do you remember when Judah L. Magnes was the spiritual head of the richest Jewish congregation in America, and the furor caused by his resignation in which he quietly intimated that it was impossible to be a rabbi and remain an honest man?
In Now and Forever which I dedicated to Magnes in 1925, before he took up his duties at the University, I ventured the opinion that if there was to be a Jewish national future in Palestine it would probably not be a purely Jewish future but the result of a mingling of Jews and Arabs.
In a recent dispute between Jews and Arabs I was thrilled to read that Magnes took the same stand. The Jews, he announced to the utter confusion of the Zionist, must share Palestine with the Arabs. Apostate! cried the Satzkins. But they have not dared to move him from his high place. For it is pretty generally realized by this time that the headship of the University of Jerusalem is high only because Judah L. Magnes occupies it.
Magnes will see the flood of blood turn from the marketplace in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. It will flow upwards till it almost touches his feet. But he is seated too highly to be touched. I hope he will have the stomach to see the last of the Satzkins drown without the turning away of an eye.
* * *
As I correct these proofs the situation in Palestine grows daily in intensity. Jews who went to Palestine from America are coming back. Is it because Palestine is becoming unsafe? Or is President Roosevelt's New Deal - offering thinner, but a greater number of dollars - doing the trick?
 It will be objected, that there is quite a population of Jewish farmers in the United States. Most of them were taken from Russia by Israel Zangwill's ITO and placed on farms which they promptly turned into summer boarding houses. Tilling the soil and living by its labor is still strange to the habits of life of the modern Jew.