Page 78 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 3

Basic HTML Version

Harvest in the Desert.
B y M
a u r i c e
a m u e l
h e
ew i s h
u b l i c a t io n
oc i e t y
m e r i c a
316 pages.
A history of Zionism as theory and practice, as idea and incarnation, has long
been desperately needed. The older works by Sokolow and Boehm, valuable as
source-books, are obsolete by date and method. A living voice was needed to
rehearse for us tha t immensely central series of events in both Jewish and univer-
sal history. I t is most fortunate and fitting that tha t voice is the voice of Maurice
Maurice Samuel is perfectly equipped for the task. He masters the tradition
of Israel; in his youth he fought for the liberation of the land; he lived in it for
years and took part in the creation of its modern culture. I t is not surprising, then,
tha t
Harvest in the Desert
is a very precious book. I t is eloquent history. But
like all the best history it is also philosophy. I t narrates and interprets both by
explication and implication. I t is luminous and not too long. I t tells its great
story greatly, yet soberly. I t is today and will be for long literally unique and
The book begins, as it should, at the beginning of things. I t sinks a shaft into
the depths of time. The aim and aspiration and meaning of Israel have always,
like its God, been one. Never was Jerusalem lost. Only as Samuel says with pro-
found wit, “its people had been mislaid.” He explains, moreover, with a very
fresh and original clarity that never before the days of modern Zionism — from
Julian the Apostate on — was there a moment in history when the rebirth of the
people in and through the land was practically possible. He thus establishes the
character of the continuity and culmination of the historic process.
From now on he treads on more familiar ground and narrates the history of
the great experiment and the great reincarnation from the days of the Chovevei
Zion and the Bilu on to those triumphs, punctuated by tragedies, which culminate
today in the War contribution of Jewish Palestine and the Lowdermilk project.
He has organized his material admirably and interwoven the cultural, economic
and political strands into a tight and seamless web. No one not determinedly hos-
tile to reason, fact and truth, can read this volume without a great lift of the
heart over the valiancy and sacrifice and triumphs of a handful of men in a world
so sordid and stupid. Those who have gathered and are gathering this harvest in
the desert should make us proud not only of being Jews but of being men. They
serve to vindicate in some measure the wretched race which has brought God’s
earth to so unspeakable a pass. The best one can or need say of Maurice Samuel
is tha t he has made himself the voice of that pride and that vindication.
— L u d w i g L e w i s o h n i n
The New Palestine
Land of Promise.
B y W
a l t e r
o w d e r m i l k
. N e w
York and London,
a r p e r
& B
ro s
p a g e s .
The immediate purpose of this little book is to indicate the simple means by
which the soil of Palestine may be restored to that ancient life-sustaining vitality
which supported, up into the twelfth century, a much larger agricultural community
than it does today.
Dr. Lowdermilk is a soil conservationist, forestry engineer and hydrologist.
He is assistant chief of the Soil Conservation Service of the U. S., President of
the American Geophysical Union and consultant of the Chinese government on
ways and means of increasing food production as a war measure. This book is
an important by-product of the extensive survey he made during 1938-39 of soil
and water conservation problems in Europe, North Africa and the Near East. The
first report Dr. Lowdermilk brought back deeply impressed Vice-President Wallace,
who, in a public reference to it, declared that it set at rest any doubt he may have
had as to the real foundation in the soil of Palestine of Zionist hope and enthusiasm.
Even in Biblical times it was (comparatively) a rich and rewarding soil, sup-
porting a populous and multiplying people on farms, vineyards and marts. What
happened? The topsoil of Palestine was washed away into the Mediterranean
through the breakdown of terrace farming, by which both soil and water had been
contained; through deforestation, and through the abandonment of farms. There
— 64 —