Page 225 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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KESSNER / ON BEHALF OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
217
elled through the Galilee and other parts o f Israel to speak
with Arabs and Jews about the flight o f 600,000 Arabs from
the Israeli sector to Jordan and the West Bank; she was told
in interviews with Arabs in villages in the Galilee and in talks
with religious leaders o f various denominations that “ the vil­
lagers who fled could have stayed, but the refugees had ‘listened
to the Mufti’ and fled.” Moreover, she found absolutely no va­
lidity to the charge that the Israelis desecrated religious sites.
Her observations and experiences during her Galilean travels
resulted not only in the formal U.N. report, but also, in several
closely argued essays on the subject o f Arab refugees and the
nature o f Arab-Palestinian nationalism.
By the end o f the 1940’s Marie Syrkin’s name had become
widely known in the Jewish world as well as in the American
educational community. Yet the forties were not an especially
happy time for Marie personally. Not only did she absolutely
detest her job (from which she would resign in 1948), but her
marriage was suffering stress. As she herself has explained, “My
absorption in the unfolding Jewish catastrophe — Charles’ own
deep involvement expressed itself in verse, not public activities
— and our basic discontents led to a growing estrangement.”
Yet they did not wish to divorce. With characteristic succinct
self-irony Marie describes the unexpected solution to her prob­
lems: “A
dens ex machina
appeared in 1950 through my appoint­
ment to the English Department o f newly established Brandeis
University in Massachusetts. Two books I had published were
responsible for deliverance from high school drudgery.” 19
CAREER A T BRANDEIS
Thus, in 1950, at the age o f fifty-one, Marie Syrkin began
a new career. She moved to Waltham to assume her teaching
duties, while Charles remained in New York where he contin­
ued to write. She would return to New York for occasional
weekends and holidays — an arrangement that was to continue
for the next sixteen years. These years at Brandeis were exciting
ones, for this new university had brought to its faculty an un­
19. It is an interesting fact that in 1950 Marie Syrkin was the only female on
the faculty at Brandeis with the exception o f a speech teacher and a gym
teacher.