Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
Joe Levy resumed his narrative, repeating the last words. ..."I was named general manager for five years by the board of directors, and allowed a preliminary credit of 1,000,000 pounds. One of my engineers thought it too little. But it was enough to begin with. I made my plans. It was autumn. I wanted to arrange a systematic immigration immediately after the winter rains. That left me only four months to work in. There was not an hour to lose.
"I established general headquarters in London at once, and appointed as department heads men whom either I knew personally, or who came highly recommended. There was Smith for passenger traffic, Steineck for construction, Rubenz for freight, Warszawski for purchasing machinery, Alladino for land purchase, Kohn and Brownstone for the commissariat, Harburger for seeds and saplings, Leonkin for the accounting department. Wellner was my general secretary. I name them as they occur to me. Fischer was my first assistant and chief engineer until his premature death. He was a splendid fellow, earnest and enthusiastic. We shall always miss him.
"The first thing I did was to send Alladino to Palestine to buy up all the available land. He was a Sephardic Jew who traced his pedigree from a family whose ancestors had been among those expelled from Spain. He knew Arabic and Greek, and was a reliable, clever man. Before the signing of the charter was made public, the price of land was still moderate. I knew that the inscrutable Alladino could not be outwitted even by the shrewdest of real estate agents. The cost of the land was of course charged by the New Society to another account than my grant of 1,000,000 pounds. A sum of 2,000,000 pounds was set aside for land. Fifty million francs, in the Palestine of those days, was a large sum for real estate.
"Having asked the Turkish Government to keep the immigration restrictions in force temporarily, I was secured against a precipitate rush of immigrants.
"I divided a map of Palestine into small squares, which I numbered. It was kept in my office, and an exact copy given to Alladino. He was simply to wire me the numbers of the parcels he had bought, and so I knew from hour to hour just how much land we already owned, and what kind of land it was.
"At the same time, I sent Harburger, our botanist, to buy eucalyptus saplings in Australia. He had carte blanche to buy all the Mediterranean plants he wanted for use or decoration. He and Alladino traveled together to Marseilles, and there separated. Alladino took the next boat for Alexandria, while Harburger traveled slowly down the Riviera, placing his orders with horticultural firms for delivery in the spring. A week later he shipped at Naples for Port Said, and I had no further word from him till he reached Melbourne.
"Then, I sent Warszawski, who was a mechanical engineer, to America to buy the most up-to-date agricultural machinery and implements, all kinds of transportable motors, steam rollers, etc. Like all my department chiefs, he understood that my instructions were not to be taken too literally, and that he was always to follow his own judgment on the spot. I wanted no long reports. All important data were cabled to me promptly, with facts and figures. Any of my chiefs who saw something new or practical that we could use-whether it came under his department or not-was to inform me of it, preferably by cable. Some brilliant suggestions came to me in this way. We succeeded because we always kept our methods up to the minute. Before he left, I said to Warszawski, 'Buy me no old scrap iron!' He understood me.
"Warszawski also had an incidental task, namely, to arrange for the re-migration of the East European Jews in America to Palestine. I considered these people very important. They had already shown their mettle by wrenching themselves free from their wretched environment in Eastern Europe, and I had learned to make their way in the good American school of experience. New York was the largest Jewish city in the world, though the vast numbers of East European refugees could not maintain themselves comfortably there, but crowded each other like sardines in a box. They found that they had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Drawing off the surplus numbers from America would therefore be as great an act of redemption as for the East European Jews themselves. The two migrations to Palestine-from America and from Eastern Europe-were to be prepared for in exactly the same way.
"I instructed Warszawski to have a private conference with the leaders of the local Zionist groups. In order to prevent a premature airing of the plan, he was to tell them merely that a company had been formed with a large amount of capital, which had obtained concessions in Palestine for agricultural and industrial enterprises. Capable workmen, skilled and unskilled, would be needed in February. They were to prepare lists of reliable persons in their groups, showing each person's age, place of birth, present occupation, family circumstances, and economic status. Unmarried men would be preferred for the unskilled labor; married men for the skilled. Each district would be held morally responsible for its nominees. Any district whose nominees refused to serve or showed themselves incompetent would not be permitted to make further nominations. They must make it a point of honor to name only really suitable persons. The manner of choice would be left to the districts. They might designate nominees either at general meetings of their membership, or leave the choice to the executive committees of the district groups. It would be easy to determine the character of the nominees from the reports of their fellow-members in the districts.
"These instructions were also sent to the Zionist district groups in Russia, Roumania, Galicia, and Algiers. Leorikin went to Russia for tQis purpose, Brownstone (who knew Jassy well) to Roumania, Kohn to Galicia, and Smith to Algiers. Leonkin returned to London in three weeks, the others in a fortnight. They had set the machinery going in all those countries.
"Our work had to be closely centralized. I had it announced in the various countries that our office would communicate only with the respective headquarters The leaders of the local groups chose central district committees, and the heads of the district committees in turn appointed national committees. With the offices of these national committees alone did we have any contacts. Otherwise, we would have been deluged with scrawls. All we needed was a record of the local Zionist groups arranged by districts and countries.
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