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September 05, 1975 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-09-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

72 Friday, September 5, 1975

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

A Prohibited Mission in Transjordan

By BORIS SMOLAR

(Editor-in-chief, emeritus, JTA)
(Copyright 1975, JTA, Inc.)

(Editor's note: This is
one of the chapters of
Boris Smolar's forthcom-
ing book in which he re-
lates hitherto unreported
experiences in contempo-
rary Jewish history).

On one afternoon, during
a pleasant chat at the Jew-
ish Agency headquarters in
Jerusalem with Dr. Eman-
uel Neumann, who was at
that time a member of the
Jewish Agency Executive
and head of its economic
department, Dr. Neumann
asked me:
"Would you like to accom-
pany me on a secret mission
tomorrow?"
Dr. Neumann often con-
fided in me matters of se-
crecy. His question, natu:
rally, intrigued me.
"Where to?" I wanted to
know. "To Transjordan!"
His answer came as a
complete surprise. All
traffic between Palestine
and Transjordan had to
.pass over the Allenby
Bridge between these two
territories under the Bri-
tish Mandatory Govern-
ment. This border was
heavily patrolled to pre-
vent Jews from entering
Transjordan.
Emir (later King) Abdul-
lah of Transjordan was one
of the few Arabs who be-
lieved in Jewish-Arab coex-
istence. In time he was to
pay for this belief with his
life. But when he was titu-
lar ruler of Transjordan, the
Mandatory . Government
kept him under heel.
He had to follow its policy
because his income con-
sisted of a yearly subsidy
from the British Govern-
ment and also because Bri-
tish military officers were
in charge of his small army,
the Arab Legion.
Britain's policy was that
Jews should not set foot in
Transjordan or buy land or
• other property there.
Dr. „ Neumann
said,
"Another member of the
Jewish Agency Executive
and I are going to Jordan to-
morrow before dawn. Our
mission is so secret that
even the Mandatory Govern-
ment — to say nothing of
the Arabs — mustn't hear a
word about it. We are trav-
elling incognito as business
guests of Emir Ahdullah.
We're to leave Jerusalem
before dawn, when there's
not a soul on the street, and
we'll he met by one of the
Emir's confidantes. You'll
he the only outsider to ac-
company us and of course
won't he able to write about
our mission."
"We're going to make a
secret agreement with
Emir Abdullah and to buy
land from him," he said.
"This will be the first time
land will be sold to Jews in
Transjordan and by no
less a person than the
Emir himself. The British
won't like it — to say noth-
ing of the Mufti and his
followers. This will go
against their wishes and
the. Emir has therefore
bound us to silence."

"But why should the
After about a quarter of
Emir want to. sell land to
an hour's drive on the
the Jewish Agency if the
Transjordanian side, our car
Mandatory Government and
came suddenly to a halt in
his own Arabs will be vi-
an empty field.
olently opposed to it?" I
After keeping us in the
asked.
field for about 10 minutes, -
"It's simple," Dr. Neu-
the driver finally revealed
mann explained. "He needs
his secret: "I agreed to wait
money. He now wants to
here for the Emir's confi-
make a trip to London and
dante, who will guide us
he wants to go as befits a
from here," he said. "I my-
King — with pomp and in
self don't know where to go
luxury. But he doesn't have
from here or where we have
enough money — even if he
to meet to sign the agree-
went as a guest of the Bri-
ment. Only the man who
tish Government.
has to meet us here knows
"It would cost him at least
where. He should be here
$25,000 and he doesn't have
any minute now. He knows
it. He can't borrow either
the approximate time we'd
because this wouldn't be
be waiting for him."
proper for a person of his
After about a quarter of
stature.
an hour's wait, we saw a
"Through a Jew in Je-
figure in the distance corn-
rusalem whose family has
ing closer and closer to us.
been here for generations
"That's probably the man
and who feels at home
we're waiting for!" said the
with the Arabs, with Jew from Jerusalem. None
whom he's been doing of us noticed how he had
business since the time gotten to where he was
Transjordan and Palestine
when we spotted him.
were part of Turkey, one of
As far as the eye could
Emir Abdullah's closest see there were no houses
advisers informed the and he had therefore ap-
Jewish Agency that the parently come in a car un-
Emir is willing to sell land til a point where he could
in his country to a Jewish see us through his field
buyer.
glasses. The car appar-
"The Jewish Agency, of ently turned back a little
course, accepted the offer and he started coming to-
immediately. We still don't, wards us on foot.
know whether the British
He was coming closer and
will approve the deal when closer and before long we
they find out about it, but Could see a tall Arab in a
we're counting on them to long white freshly-washed
refrain from going against Arab robe with typical Arab
Emir Ahdullah's wishes," headdress., He bowed to us
Dr. Neumann said.
courteously and greeted us
"At any rate, it's impor- in fluent English.
tant for us to get it down on
To our chauffeur, how-
paper that the ruler of ever, he began speaking
Transjordan is selling us Arabic. He told him some-
land," he went on.
thing we did not under-
The other member of the stand. Our chauffeur smiled
Jewish Agency Executive amiably and told us we
turned out to he Dr. Heshl
could get baCk into . the car.
Farbsztejn, a Mizrachi
"He says he'll go with us
leader.
in our car and take us to the
He came to Jewish place where we're ex-
Agency headquarters be-
pected," the Jew from Jeru-
fore dawn ready for the salem explained. We got
trip and with a 'cane in his
hack into the car. The Arab
hand. I'd never seen him
sat down next to the driver.
with a cane before and I
and we continued our jour-
teased him about it.
ney.
The dusty road was
"This is not for protec-
lined by grassy fields on
tion," he answered in all se-
riousness. "I've brought this
both sides. Gradually we
started to see Arab tents,
cane in order to follow one
of the statements in the Bi-
Arabs riding on donkeys,
ble."
and here and there dusty
"Ki bemakli avarti et hay-
little Arab houses.
arden (for with my staff I
Veiled women with bas-
have crossed the Jordan—
kets of vegetables on their
Genesis 32:11)," he re-
heads passed us by and soon
minded me.
we saw Arab children in the
A car was waiting for the
streets. Day was dawning in
three of us in the courtyard
this primitive 'corner of the
of the Jewish Agency.. The
country. Although the soil
driver was the Arab-speak-
was better here than in
ing Jew from Jerusalem
Palestine, it was poor and
who was the intermediary
much less developed.
between Emir Ahdullah and
After an hour's ride, our
the Jewish Agency.
car came to a halt some-
He didn't say a word dur-
where on the road to Am-
ing the three-hour trip to
man. There was only one
the Allenby Bridge. There
small house in the whole
were Palestinian policemen
area. This was the place
at one end of the bridge and
where the secret agreement
Transjordanian Policemen
was to be signed.
at the Other.
There were no guards ar-
We crossed the frontier
ound the house; not a soul.
Dr. Neumann and Dr.
without any difficulties.
Farbsztejn went into the
Dr. Neumann and I had
house together with the
American passports and
Dr. Farbsztejn had a Pol- 'Emir's representative and
the Jewish intermediary to
ish one. We were foreign
citizens and the Palestine _sign the agreement. I re-
mained outside with my
border guards did not care
about our destination.
camera and took pictures of

Boesky's of Southfield

22060 W. 10 Mile Rd. at Lahser-

ir,, ,, ,

the house in which the his-
toric act of selling land in
Transjordan to Jews for the
first time was to take place.
Because everything had
been previously negotiated
in top secrecy, both sides
were eager to sign the
agreement as quickly as
possible.. And everything

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"..

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In less than a half hour,
we were back in the car for
the return trip to Jerusa-
lem. Dr. Neumann was
- Grit,
Hof(
beaming with satisfaction
1301 W. Lafayette
and Dr. Farbsztejn glee-
965-9030
fully played with his cane
and kept on repeating the
words: Ki bemakli avarti
MAY THE NEW YEAR BRING YOU PEACE,
et hayarden: "For with my
GOOD HEALTH AND HAPPINESS
staff I have crossed the
7
Jordan!"
Detroit, Michigan 48210
The secret deal was too
834-4000
good, however, to remain
Harry Laker, Irving Laker, Martin Laker, Louis Parr and Jack Parr
confidential.
ZO:::4111KAINKAIKKAIIIKAIIIIVAIIIMOMOSPKAIIMAIIIKANW
Sure enough, the story
broke one day in a Lebanese-
Happy New Year
newspaper. Every detail of
the secret deal was revealed
in the article and the Emir
was warned that it would be
64 Victor Ave., Highland Park
wise to cancel the deal.
TO 9-5588
This took place about two
weeks after the deal was r
Sincerest New Year Greetings
closed. It was clear that
someone close to Emir Ab-
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Chinese and American Restaurant
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might be in danger since the
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to
My
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over it.
I do not know whether the
Emir returned the money.
Manufacturer of Fine Furs
The secret agreement re-
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(1_,0 (2.j7g
ment. It is now in the
BeN/ 11 ishes for it /hi/)p. 1- New )eur
archives of the Jewish
Agency.

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