Hotel Allenby, Jerusalem, Palestine
June 5, 1920
I find it difficult to believe that in less than three weeks I shall be on an Atlantic liner headed for the United States! Yesterday afternoon as I came home I dropped in at Cook’s and found a cable there from Naples saying that passage on the White Star Liner “CRETIC” had been secured; — so Bull and I will be sailing from Naples June 25th, and arriving in Boston I presume about July 9th. You can easily ascertain the date of arrival by calling up the White Star office in Chicago. I was unable to reach the cable office until this morning, and several hours after leaving my message, they sent it back asking for pay for 18 words (6 more than I paid for) to include my full name and hotel address! I hope that it will reach you Sunday morning (tomorrow), June 6th.
Yesterday was a very busy day. Clay blew in just after breakfast and asked me if I could go up at 11:00 to the administration and give the British Intelligence Chief the information I had gained on the overland trip from Baghdad. He had been up there to see him and found that he was just reading Ancient Times! A car would be down for me at 11:00. I arranged to go, and Clay was going along. Captain Mackay the new British Inspector of Antiquities was calling on me at the time, and we all prepared to go up together. Meantime Major Waggett (he prefers to be called Father Waggett) had told the Commander-in-Chief, Major-General Sir Louis Bols, that I was here, and the general asked him to ask me for lunch. Clay did not know that I knew General Bols, and seemed surprised when the enclosed card was handed in by the chauffeur as the car arrived. On the way up we stopped at the Governorate and I took in all our passports and secured laisser-passers for the whole party; for this is still a war administration at Jerusalem. We took Clay home and then Mackay took me up in the car to the Mount of Olives where the British Headquarters are housed in the magnificent hospice built there by the Germans. It is a large and showy stone building with a lofty tower. In the court are two high niches containing bronze statues of the German Emperor and Empress life-size, in the attitude of adoring saints. A sumptuous Byzantine church is included in the building, and a large fresco in the ceiling shows the same two august personages enthroned side-by-side, the Emperor holding in his right hand a large model of the building in which the scene is found. The auditorium is sumptuous in carved marble, mosaics, and imposing Byzantine arches. I went up the tower where one gains a wonderful view of the whole region from the mountains of Moab in the east, flanking an imposing panorama of the Dead Sea and the Jordan valley, with Jericho just hidden behind a low peak above the valley, to the desolate ridges of the Judaean highlands in the west. Nowhere else can a view such as this be obtained, for the point of observation is some 2600 feet above the sea, while the lower Jordan Valley and the surface of the Dead Sea are 1300 feet below sea level, the deepest chasm in the earth’s surface known to us. The surface of the Dead Sea, some 15 miles from the observer, is thus nearly 4000 feet below him. The scene is of the greatest geological interest to begin with, and at the same time one to rouse every religious emotion of one’s childhood, as you realize that you are standing on the Mount of Olives looking out over Bethany, the hills of Bethlehem and Tekoah, the home of Amos, the Valley of Kedron near which was Gethsemane, and behind it Jerusalem itself, with a Moslem mosque where once the temple stood.
Jerusalem: The Garden of Gethsemane. Photo by W. A. Shelton. (P. 8204)
Jerusalem: East wall and the Golden Gate from Kidron. Photo by W. A. Shelton. (P. 8205)
Jerusalem: View from the top of the tower of the German hospice on the Mount of Olives, looking over Jerusalem on the right, the Russian tower in the center, and the Dead Sea and Moab on the left. Photo by W. A. Shelton. (P. 8206)
Mackay took me in to see Father Waggett and together we went in to join the general at lunch. He gave me a very kind welcome, and at once told me he was reading Ancient Times, and had ordered two more copies from London, one for his youngest son and the other for the head-master of the boy’s school. He was curious to get the reaction of the head-master, a traditionalist of course. He promised to send me the master’s letter as soon as it came. Two other guests then came in, one perhaps the handsomest young Italian girl I ever saw, as youthful and girlish as a young American High School girl. Behind her was an old gentleman of 70, the two making as I thought, a very pretty picture of father and daughter. Imagine my surprise when I was introduced to Lady Newlands and her husband, General Newlands! The girl was as intelligent as she was handsome, and promptly entered upon a bantering argument with Father Waggett, whom she was trying to convert to Catholicism!
At luncheon I had to tell much of my experiences on the overland trip. They were all talking of King Feisal’s absence in Paris, and were quite incredulous when I told them I had dined with him in Damascus only three days before. I can’t begin to recount the conversation, but it was a very diverting game for me. General Bols is one of the finest men in the British army. Lord Allenby has more than once said in public that Bols was the man who suggested the plan of the final and decisive battle with the Turks in Palestine, — the one at Megiddo. After lunch I went into a corner with him, and told him what I knew of Arab hostility to the British. I had chaffingly told them at lunch that the Arabs did not want the French because they had to pay the French twice as much as they had formerly paid the Turks to get what they wanted, and they did not want the English because they could not get what they wanted at any price! Bols asked me with much seriousness whether I thought Feisal was really in control of his Arabs. I am confident that in this question lies the chief English difficulty. They have long been subsidizing Feisal and made no secret of doing so, but now that is supposed to have ended. I would be willing to wager a good deal that on the quiet they are still subsidizing him, and what they are anxious about is whether in holding him loyal to the English, they are at the same time holding the Arabs. I told Sir Louis I could not answer his question, and did not think any one could, but that the sheikhs I had talked with showed little enthusiasm for Feisal. It was a very curious thing that Sheikh Ramadhan handed me, an American stranger, a confidential letter to be delivered in Aleppo, while only an hour or two before me Nadji Beg an official of Feisal’s government, had passed by the Sheikh’s tents on his way to Aleppo.
Our conversation then drifted to the situation in Palestine, where the position of the English seems to be steadily growing worse. I attempted to hire an automobile to run out into the Jordan Valley to view the interesting and partially excavated mound of Jericho. The Englishman with whom I dealt said he could not let a machine go out there, as it was not safe. The Arabs on the east of Jordan were continually raiding the valley. Only a fortnight ago two Indian drivers were shot by snipers, one of them killed and the other badly wounded. Now, just consider that you can see the whole region of Jericho from the Mount of Olives, that is practically from Jerusalem, and anyhow directly from the roof of the British Headquarters! The Arabs of the desert on the east, and the Moslems of the towns are deeply disaffected, and they do not trust any of the Allies. “Consider their grievance”, said General Bols. “The Allies agreed to send out an International Commission, or a commission from each of the Allied Nations to find out what the people of Syria and Palestine wanted. Furthermore they were to be given a plebiscite. When this had been agreed upon by practically everybody at the Peace Conference, Clemenceau suddenly spoke up, saying, ‘If this is done for Syria, it must also be done for Mesopotamia’. Miss Bell and others representing English interests in Mesopotamia, protested vigorously, and as a result, first France said she would send no commission, then Italy, and finally Great Britain abandoned the project, although the people of Syria had been solemnly assured it would be put through. Although it was then entirely futile, President Wilson had the Commission representing the United States come out here and go through the country studying the situation”. I did not want to interrupt General Bols by remarking that this action of Wilson awakened hopes here which have produced a most unfortunate disappointment, quite undermining the confidence of the Syrians in the United States. “Then”, continued the general, “what shall we think of a government, which after disappointing the people of Palestine in this way at the very beginning, promises them solemnly that they shall have a British government, and promptly goes on to give them a Jewish government, in a country containing only ten percent of Jews!”.
When a British general in command of a country speaks that way about his own government, — and a British general of unusual brains and ability, there is certainly some cause for his indignation. I can’t begin to describe the situation. The money of wealthy Jews is simply inundating this country, and it is augmented by the money of western Christians too who are caught by the idea of the restoration of the Chosen People to their Promised Land. None of these people go themselves, or want to go. They are patriotic by proxy and through money subscriptions… Every … Jewish official in the country is being subsidised by the Jewish funds poured into the country. It is even common gossip that the Jews of the world have offered the Moslems half a billion dollars for possession of the mosque on the temple mount. I do not know whether this is true. When I called on the singularly attractive Dominican brothers at their institution, Pere Lagrange was in much distress because the Jews in the Palestine Oriental Society were insisting on publishing their papers in the journal in modern Hebrew! They have recently begun an agitation objecting to the proximity of so many crosses in the British military cemetery alongside the site of the future Jewish University, — crosses marking the graves of the fallen British heroes who gave their lives to win this country for the Jews who now object to their monuments. You can imagine the feeling of the whole British army here. If this thing gets into the British papers at home, the Lord help the Jews! But British feeling is the smallest part of it. The appointment of a Jewish High Commissioner by the British politicians at home, is not a blunder of merely political consequences. It is almost certain to kindle a conflagration of the most serious proportions. Strong anti-Jewish demonstrations have already been made, many Jews have been killed and many more wounded within the last few weeks. And the commander of the British army asks, how can anything else be expected? Well you can see it was an interesting lunch, — this with General Bols!
Is it not extraordinary! The French force themselves into Syria as the unwelcome lords of the Syrians, and produce a situation of growing trouble and disorder; while the British, welcome rulers of Palestine, force upon the protesting people of the land an utterly abhorrent Jewish supremacy, producing in Palestine a situation equally full of trouble and disorder! It is easy to say that a tottering group of British politicians have been bought up by Jewish money, but I hate very much to believe it.
I dined last night with Captain Mackay, and met there Major Legge, who is Chief of the Department of Education. He asked for advice as to a policy for the education of the Moslems, who are about the only ones left for the government to take into its schools, for the Christians are supplied with mission and sectarian schools, while the Jews have funds for their own schools far exceeding in amount the entire school budget of the government! I urged a system built up on courses in civics and vocational training. Tonight I am dining with Garstang, Director of the British School of Archaeology here. He wants to see me about his collection in the museum of the University of Liverpool, which he tells me they would like to sell! It is evident the British are desperately put to it for funds.
For the full story of my exciting trip you should come to the special exhibit “Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-1920,” at the Oriental Institute!
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