Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"No, sir, I should not say that. I know that in London people build houses on other people's land on ninety-nine year leases. This is quite the same thing....But .I wanted to ask you, my dear Bey, how the former inhabitants fared -those who had nothing, the numerous Moslem Arabs."
"Your question answers itself, Mr. Kingscourt," replied Reschid. "Those who had nothing stood to lose nothing, and could only gain. And they did gain: Opportunities to work, means of livelihood, prosperity. Nothing could have been more wretched than an Arab village at the end of the nineteenth century. The peasants' clay hovels were unfit for stables. The children lay naked and neglected in the streets, and grew up like dumb beasts. Now everything is different. They benefited from the progressive measures of the New Society whether they wanted to or not, whether they joined it or not. When the swamps were drained, the canals built, and the eucalyptus trees planted to drain, and 'cure' the marshy soil, the natives (who, naturally, were well acclimatized) were the first to be employed, and were paid well for their work!
"Just look at that field! It was a swamp in my boyhood. The New Society bought up this tract rather cheaply, and turned it into the best soil in the country. It belongs to that tidy settlement up there on the hill. It is a Moslem village-you can tell by the mosque. These people are better off than at any time in the past. They support themselves decently, their children are healthier and are being taught something. Their religion and ancient customs have in no wise been interfered with. They have become more prosperous-that is all."
"You're queer fellows, you Moslems. Don't you regard these Jews as intruders?"
"You speak strangely, Christian," responded the friendly Reschid. "Would you call a man a robber who takes nothing from you, but brings you something instead? The Jews have enriched us. Why should we be angry with them? They dwell among us like brothers. Why should we not love them? I have never had a better friend among my co-religionists than David Littwak here. He may come to me, by day or night, and ask what he pleases. I shall give it him. And I know that I, too, may count upon him as upon a brother. He prays in a different house to the God who is above us all. But our houses of worship stand side by side, and I always believe that our prayers, when they rise, mingle somewhere up above, and then continue on their way together until they appear before Our Father."
Rechid's gentle words had moved everyone, Kingscourt included. That gentleman cleared his throat. "Hm-hm! Quite right. Very fine. Sounds reasonable. But you're an educated man, you've studied in Europe. I hardly think the simple country or town folk will be likely to think as you do."
"They more than anyone else, Mr. Kingscourt. You must excuse my saying so, but I did not learn tolerance in the Occident. We Moslems have always had better relations with the Jews than you Christians. When the first Jewish colonists settled here half a century ago, Arabs went to the Jews to judge between them, and often asked the Jewish village councils for help and advice. There was no difficulty in that respect. So long as the Geyer policy does not win the upper hand, all will be well with our common fatherland."
"Yes! Who's this Geyer I'm always hearing about?"
Steineck went purple as he shouted, "He's a cursed pope, a provocateur, a blasphemer who rolls up his eyes. He wants to bring intolerance into our country, the scamp! I am certainly a peaceful person, but I could cheerfully murder an intolerant fellow like that!"
"Oh, so you are a peaceful person," laughed Kingscourt. "Now I can imagine what your others are like."
"Of course they're much gentler," jested David.
The car had left the plain and was gliding eastward into rolling country. It took the upgrades as easily as the down. The hillsides everywhere were cultivated up to the very summits; every bit of soil was exploited. The steep slopes were terraced with vines, pomegranate and fig trees as in the ancient days of Solomon. Numerous tree nurseries bore witness to the intelligent efforts at forestation of the once barren tracts. Pines and cypresses on the ridges of the hills towered against the blue skies.
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