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September 20, 1985 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-09-20

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS Friday, September 20, 1985

sian Belvedere of 1889, a similar
spectacle could be observed: the
barren hills of the Judean desert,
the waters of the Dead Sea glint-
ing 3,900 feet below, and, on the
horizon, the mauve mountains of
Moab, among them Mount Nebo,
from which Moses looked across
the Jordan valley to this very
crest, the guardian of a
Jerusalem he was never to see.
Beyond the city walls, 1898
saw the consecration of the Ang-
lican Collegiate Church of St.
George, and the foundation of the
American Colony Photographic
Department by Elijah Meyers, a
Jew from India who had con-
verted to Christianity, and Fred-
erick Vester, a German Protes-
tant born in Jerusalem of mis-
sionary parents. That same year,
the first bicycle was seen in the
city — being pedalled courage-
ously along the Jaffa road.
The Kaiser's entry into
Jerusalem took place on 29 Oc-
tober 1898. A hundred photo-
graphs, professional and
amateur, recorded the scene:
William, mounted on a black
charger, wearing white ceremo-
nial uniform, his helmet sur-
mounted by a burnished gold
eagle. "Revolting," wrote the
mother of the Russian Tsar. "All
done out of sheer vanity, so as to
be talked about." The whole visit,
she wrote, "perfectly ridiculous,
and has no trace of religious feel-
ing — disgusting."
For the Kaiser, however, the
entry into Jerusalem was more
than theatrical: more even than a
display of German power. "The
thought," he wrote in' a letter to
the Tsar, "that His feet trod the
same ground is most stirring to
one's heart, and makes it beat
faster and more fervently."
Theodor Herzl's heart had
also beaten faster, at the thought
of putting the case for Zionism to
the Kaiser personally, and in
Jerusalem itself. But at first he
and his delegation were denied
an audience. Herzl fumed;
changed hotels to be nearer the
Jaffa Gate; watched from his
hotel window as the Kaiser
entered the city, through the
Jewish and then the Turkish
"triumphal" arches.
While awaiting word that he
could speak to the Kaiser, Herzl
explored Jerusalem. "When I re-
member thee in days to come, 0
Jerusalem" he wrote in his di-
ary, "It will not be with delight,"
and he went on to explain: "The
musty deposits of two thousand
years of inhumanity, intolerance
and foulness lie in your reeking
alleys. The one man who has
been present here all this while,
the lovable dreamer of Nazareth,
has done nothing but help in-
crease the hate."
Herzl added: "If Jerusalem is
ever ours, and if I were still able
to do anything about it, I would
begin by cleaning it up. I would
clear out everything that is not
sacred, set up workers' houses
beyond the city, empty and tear
down the filthy rat-holes, burn all
the non-sacred ruins, and put the .
bazaars elsewhere.
Then, retaining as much of
the old architectural style as
possible, I would build an airy,

comfortable, properly sewered,
brand new city around the Holy
Thereupon, Gilbert gives this ac-
count of the meeting between the foun-
der of the political Zionist movement and
the German Kaiser:
On 1 November 1898 Herzl
wrote in his dairy: "We have
been to the Wailing Wall. Any
deep emotion is rendered im-
possible by the hideous, misera-
ble, scrambling beggary pervad-
ing the place. At least such was
the case, yesterday evening and
this morning, when we were
there. We inspected a Jewish
hospital today. Misery and
squalor. Nevertheless I was ob-
liged, for appearance sake, to tes-
tify in the visitors' book to its
cleanliness. This is how lies
The meeting between the
Zionist leaders and the Kaiser
took place on 2 November 1898,
at the Imperial tent. "The Kaiser
awaited us there" Herzl noted,
"in grey colonial uniform, veiled
helmet on his head, brown
gloves, and holding — oddly
enough — a riding crop in his
right hand. I halted a few paces
before the entrance and bowed.
The Kaiser held out his hand to
me very affably as I came in."
During the course of their dis-
cussion, Herzl noted in his diary,
"I managed to allude to my idea
for restricting the old city to
humanitarian institutions, clean-
ing it up, and building a New
Jerusalem which could be
viewed from the Mount of Olives
as Rome from the Gianicolo."
During the audience between
the Kaiser and Herzl, Herd was
emphatic that the Zionists could
find and develop the water
needed to modernize Palestine.
"It will cost millions," Herzl told
the Kaiser, "but it will produce
millions." "Well," the Kaiser re-
plied jovially, tapping his boot
with his riding crop, "you have
plenty of money, more than all of
In the heat of a Jerusalem
morning Herzl did not argue
against this view of Jewish
wealth; he spoke instead of
"what could be done with the
water power of the Jordan," to
the Kaiser's evident approval.
The audience was then at an end.
On the following day Herzl wrote
the final diary entry of his
Jerusalem visit; "I am firmly
convinced that a splendid New
Jerusalem can be built outside
the old city walls," he confided.
"The old Jerusalem would still
remain Lourdes and Mecca and
Yerushalayim. A very lovely
beautiful town could arise at its
Herzl was never to see his
dream: he died eight years later,
at the age of 42. But Jerusalem,
already transformed, already
showing so many of the signs of a
modern city, was now an integral
nart of the political conflicts and
notional longings of the new
century. Jew, Arab and Euro-
pean, Christian and Muslim, in-
habitant and visitor, had built up
the city, and given it its char-
acter. None were to find it per-
fect each was to seek to change

it; few were to leave it in peace;
but all were to cherish its golden
It is not surprising that the Kaiser
should have resorted to "Jewish wealth,"
a standard non-Jewish misconception
which often created delusions that Jews
had enough money to buy up whatever
existed in Palestine. It was a negation of
the actualities, of the ever-struggling
Zionist campaigning for financial success
because the wealthy limited their sup-
port to the philanthropic aspects. While
the charitable concerns of Baron Maurice
de Hirsch and the Rothschild and Mon-
tefiore families are accounted for, they
were limited to the needy and to the new
settlers, especially from Russia, and not
for state-building.
Problematically, occurrences of
major importance in the Jerusalem his-
tory include the missionary threats and
the immigration restrictions imposed
especially on Jews by the Ottoman
power ruling the Holy City.
Chief among the missionary prop-
agators who actually conducted the pro-
selytizing was British Consul James


Finn. Truly distressing accounts related
about him have direct relevance tc the
present, in view of the movement, mini-
mal as it may be, organized to fight al-
leged missionary efforts in Israel.
There was an American presence
that negated the malicious that domi-
nated the missionary movements. United
States Consul Edwin Sherman Wallace
emerges in Gilbert's Jerusalem as a re-

sister to the proselytizers and as a friend
who understood the Jews and their role
in the Holy Land. For example, in a
comment on archeological findings, he
The residences are smell, ill

yentilated and poorly lighted. In
the poorer Jewish quarters hu-
manity has not breathing-room,
and apparently does not desire it.
I have found ten persons sleeping
on one small room with every
door and window tightly closed;
it was a room to be looked into
for curiosity, but not to be
entered voluntarily.
U.S. Consul Wallace gained an in-

Continued on next page

The Kaiser leaves a Jerusalem church during his 1898 visit.

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