Page 32 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
should appeal, have pu t their mind to it.” Similarly, David
Smilansky, in an article dated January 1912, commented on a
public lecture given by the noted German archaeologist Karl
Watzinger (1877-1948) on the archaeological excavations in
Palestine as follows: “Thus German Christians labor in field of
our history. They do so because of scientific and religious inter­
ests. And we, who should be the most interested in the success of
these archaeological excavations, do nothing in this regard and
allow any who so desire to engage in them — Germans, British
and Americans”
(A City is Born,
Hebrew, Tel-Aviv, 1981, p. 134).
In the same spirit of concern wrote Aaron Aaronsohn, the pio­
neering agronomist, regarding a lecture he heard in Jerusalem
by the German archaeologist Immanuel Benzinger (1865-1935),
who was active in Palestine during 1902-1911: “Usually, I do not
pay attention to these excavations, and I have no objection when I
see that the non-Jews conduct them. But when Benzinger related
that he had discovered an altar and two monuments and when he
circulated photographs of them, I felt a slight stab of pain, as
though a profane hand had touched something very sacred to us.
And I had considered myself to be completely free o f any reli­
gious prejudice” (in Eliezer Livneh,
Aaron Aaronsohn, the Man and
His Times,
Hebrew, Jerusalem, 1969, p. 96).
Aaronsohn was the author of a short monograph on the city of
Acre, which was published after his death in
Ha-Yishuv,
1925
(new ed., Ariel, Jerusalem, 1982). There he wrote concerning the
geographical work of the early Haskalah writer in Galicia, Sam­
son Ha-Levi Bloch (1784-1845), entitled
Shevilei Olam
(Paths of
the World, 2 vols., 1822-1827, and dealing with Asia and Africa),
as follows: “And to this day, and in our land, not only do we wait
until strangers come to reveal our hidden treasures, to dig up the
graves of our ancestors, to learn from the dead facts about our
glorious past and to gather information about ancient times that
are so necessary for us, but we are also negligent regarding prac­
tical geographic facts and we permit others to take our place. Can
we accept this? Can we keep from complaining until a generation
arises that will realize its duty towards researching the land?”
To the many voices which called for an original Hebrew
research literature must be added those of David Ben-Gurion
and Izhak Ben-Zvi in their introduction to their Yiddish book,
Eretz-Israel in the Past and Present
(Yiddish, New York, 1918;
Hebrew tr., Jerusalem, 1979). They wrote at that time: “In the