Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"Every day five hundred, a thousand or two thousand immigrants arrived at the various ports between Beirut and Jaffa. They were set to work the day after they landed. No delays! We needed tens of thousands of men for railway construction alone, and still more to erect the public buildings of the New Society-the administration offices, schools, hospitals, etc. No great skill was required once the plans had been adopted, and all that had been arranged well in advance. For their work on the roads, railways and other public utilities, our laborers received not only wages (minus deductions for goods they might have purchased from the department stores), but they were also entitled .to be settled on the land. An immigrant whom we assigned to various jobs that spring, was to have a house built for him by the autumn in which to receive his family.
"As I have said, carrying out the work was a simple matter once the plans were there. The military staffs of the great European powers had far more difficult tasks in the nineteenth century. It is really immodest to compare our tasks with achievements like theirs. We had only to settle half a million people by the autumn, and could count upon a harvest in the meantime, while the old military staffs had to feed millions of men, often in enemy territory, and usually in times of a general dislocation of commerce and traffic. We, however, were in a friendly country, on our ancestral soil, in fact. And we not only did not frighten business off, but attracted it strongly. The people for whom we had to provide began at once to produce the means for their own maintenance and also for the later comers.
"All over the country independent manufacturers were erecting factories that were to be roofed over by the autumn. As a matter of fact, any sensible person could see what splendid industrial prospects were opening up in this country: the local market for goods created by the large immigration; the low freight rates on the outbound ships, which still carried little return cargo; the long coast line; the central situation of the country between Europe and Asia. All these factors tempted people hither.
"After our first harvest, which was not especially good, but only fair, I reviewed the situation and decided that it was not necessary to interrupt the immigration in the autumn as we had planned originally. When I cabled the local Zionist federations that it was not necessary to halt the stream of immigrants, there was great enthusiasm everywhere. I date the triumph of our New Society from that first harvest. We were to have more abundant harvests in later years; the old gold of the wheat was to grow more plentifully out of our soil; but we never again harvested so much as in that year, for we then reaped the confidence of our brethren allover the world. Barely a twelve-month after I had established our headquarters in London, I was able to say to my staff in Haifa that it had been a good year.
"Our administration building in Haifa was roofed over by the autumn, but still unfinished within. We were to occupy it only in the spring. But I could say to my valiant assistants, 'Now we have a roof over our heads.' I referred to the whole structure of the New Society. We had merely to keep on as we were going, to overlook no detail, and to keep a watchful eye on our work. Our tasks grew more extensive, but they were easier to carry out as time went on.
"The larger engineering enterprises-the water works had been finished. We linked ourselves with a very ancient Jewish heritage-the Pools of Solomon's which still bear witness to the skill of our ancestors. We had, indeed, to do more than furnish water for Jerusalem and the other cities; electric light and power also had to be produced. The Dead Sea Canal and our other engineering works prove that our engineers did not spare themselves-Fischer, their splendid chief, less than anyone else.
"There also poured into our land a stream of capital and credit. Our purposeful work and immediate successes had won for us the confidence of the public. Just as we had organized agricultural producers' co-operatives with our new peasants, so we had brought modern agricultural credits into the country. At first some people thought that we should soon exhaust our credits if we gave our settlers dwelling houses, farm buildings, machinery, horses, cows, sheep, poultry, wagons, implements, seed, and fodder. The cost of settling one family on the land was about 600 pounds. Our clever opponents therefore calculated that the cost of settling one thousand families would be 600,000 pounds, ten thousand families 6,000,000 pounds, etc., etc., and so ascertained the exact date when our funds would give out altogether. These expert calculators overlooked one trifle, namely, that settlers represent an appreciable economic value, and that money can always be borrowed on good collateral. The New Society could if it chose, have increased its cash resources very largely by well-covered, amortizable loans. In a word, the more settlers we brought into the country, the more money flowed in. So it is allover the world with good management. Why should it not have worked out equally well in our case?
"But I see that I have digressed from the subject in hand. As I have said, the 'Futuro' visited us at a time when I was busy in the interior. I was forced to postpone my trip to Jaffa from one day to the next all the while the Ship of the Wise lay anchored there.
"Once it happened that a party from the boat was driving in several cars along a new road bordering some fields where I was riding about on horseback. They glanced at the great steam roller being used there, and observed some of our men working in the fields. The bright silk veils fluttering from the ladies' hats was a pretty sight. I did not ride up to them, because I was all dusty and perspiring and looked like a highwayman. I still thought then that I should be able to present myself to their distinguished company while the 'Futuro' lay at Jaffa. But it turned out otherwise. The next day I received a telegram which obliged me to hurry off to Constantinople. There was a very important matter to be arranged with the Turkish Government. I ordered my yacht put under steam at once, and called my department chiefs together. I appointed Fischer (who knew all my views) acting director, and sailed for Constantinople the next day with my secretary.
"It was impossible for me to visit the 'Futuro' then, but I counted upon her remaining along the coast of Palestine until I returned. I did everything in my power to hurry things in Constantinople, but everything dragged as it occasionally does in that charming but sleepy city and my impatience helped me not at all. In spirit I was in Palestine all the while. I was in hourly touch with Fischer and my London office. Only with those delightful people on the 'Futuro' I could have no communication. My regrets grew the greater as the ship sailed northward. Fischer kept me informed as to her movements. Now she was in Tyre, then in Sidon. She was to stay over a bit in Beirut, so as to allow time for an excursion to Damascus. I hoped that she would still be at Beirut when I finally got away from Constantinople. My presence was urgently required in Palestine, but I did want to allow myself half a day at Beirut in order to board the 'Futuro.' My good yacht flew over the waves, for I had asked my captain to make his best speed. And at that we were too late. Passing Cyprus one morning I noticed a ship in the distance bound in the opposite direction. It flashed upon me that she might be the 'Futuro.' I rushed to the bridge, but was not a good enough seaman to identify a ship at that distance. The captain unfortunately was downstairs in his cabin. By the time he had been called to the bridge, the ship was out of sight. To race after her on a chance was inadvisable. For one thing, it was doubtful whether we could overtake her; for another, the 'Futuro' might still be lying at Beirut, and then I would probably miss her. When we reached Beirut, I learned that my surmise had been correct: the ship I had seen in the morning sunlight off Cyprus had indeed been the 'Futuro.'
"I felt a certain pang. Ever since then I have cherished the wish that it might be granted me to see the return of the 'Futuro' after twenty five years. I don't mean the same boat, of course-she would be obsolete, and we shall have a splendid new one; nor the identical group of guests: Some of .them will have died, and there many new stars will have arisen on the horizon of civilization in the meantime. But we intend that every twenty-five years a ship named the 'Futuro' shall bring us such an Aeropagus, before whose judgment we shall bow. We shall set up no make-believe villages as at a world's fair, but shall place our whole country on exhibit before the 'Futuro' as an honored jury.
"When they come again and it is given me not to miss them...should they find that Joe Levy has performed his simple but onerous task with some degree of skill, why then-I shall go on the retired list. And when I die, lay me beside my dear friend Fischer, up there in the Carmel cemetery, overlooking our beloved land and sea."
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