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Ch. 6: The Groups of the City

Palestine is a striped country; that is the first effect of landscape on the eye. It runs in great parallel lines wavering into vast hills and valleys, but preserving the parallel pattern; as if drawn boldly but accurately with gigantic chalks of green and grey and red and yellow. The natural explanation or (to speak less foolishly) the natural process of this is simple enough. The stripes are the strata of the rock, only they are stripped by the great rains, so that everything has to grow on ledges, repeating yet again that terraced character to be seen in the vineyards and the staircase streets of the town. But though the cause is in a sense in the ruinous strength of the rain, the hues are not the dreary hues of ruin. What earth there is is commonly a red clay richer than that of Devon; a red clay of which it would be easy to believe that the giant limbs of the first man were made. What grass there is is not only an enamel of emerald, but is literally crowded with those crimson anemones which might well have called forth the great saying touching Solomon in all his glory. And even what rock there is is coloured with a thousand secondary and tertiary tints, as are the walls and streets of the Holy City which is built from the quarries of these hills. For the old stones of the old Jerusalem are as precious as the precious stones of the New Jerusalem; and at certain moments of morning or of sunset, every pebble might be a pearl.

And all these coloured strata rise so high and roll so far that they might be skies rather than slopes. It is as if we looked up at a frozen sunset; or a daybreak fixed for ever with its fleeting bars of cloud. And indeed the fancy is not without a symbolic suggestiveness. This is the land of eternal things; but we tend too much to forget that recurrent things are eternal things. We tend to forget that subtle tones and delicate hues, whether in the hills or the heavens, were to the primitive poets and sages as visible as they are to us; and the strong and simple words in which they describe them do not prove that they did not realise them. When Wordsworth speaks of "the clouds that gather round the setting sun," we assume that he has seen every shadow of colour and every curve of form; but when the Hebrew poet says "He hath made the clouds his chariot"; we do not always realise that he was full of indescribable emotions aroused by indescribable sights. We vaguely assume that the very sky was plainer in primitive times. We feel as if there had been a fashion in sunsets; or as if dawn was always grey in the Stone Age or brown in the Bronze Age.

But there is another parable written in those long lines of many-coloured clay and stone. Palestine is in every sense a stratified country. It is not only true in the natural sense, as here where the clay has fallen away and left visible the very ribs of the hills. It is true in the quarries where men dig, in the dead cities where they excavate, and even in the living cities where they still fight and pray. The sorrow of all Palestine is that its divisions in culture, politics and theology are like its divisions in geology. The dividing line is horizontal instead of vertical. The frontier does not run between states but between stratified layers. The Jew did not appear beside the Canaanite but on top of the Canaanite; the Greek not beside the Jew but on top of the Jew; the Moslem not beside the Christian but on top of the Christian. It is not merely a house divided against itself, but one divided across itself. It is a house in which the first floor is fighting the second floor, in which the basement is oppressed from above and attics are besieged from below. There is a great deal of gunpowder in the cellars; and people are by no means comfortable even on the roof. In days of what some call Bolshevism, it may be said that most states are houses in which the kitchen has declared war on the drawing-room. But this will give no notion of the toppling pagoda of political and religious and racial differences, of which the name is Palestine. To explain that it is necessary to give the traveller's first impressions more particularly in their order, and before I return to this view of the society as stratified, I must state the problem more practically as it presents itself while the society still seems fragmentary.

We are always told that the Turk kept the peace between the Christian sects. It would be nearer the nerve of vital truth to say that he made the war between the Christian sects. But it would be nearer still to say that the war is something not made by Turks but made up by infidels. The tourist visiting the churches is often incredulous about the tall tales told about them; but he is completely credulous about the tallest of all the tales, the tale that is told against them. He believes in a frantic fraticidal war perpetually waged by Christian against Christian in Jerusalem. It freshens the free sense of adventure to wander through those crooked and cavernous streets, expecting every minute to see the Armenian Patriarch trying to stick a knife into the Greek Patriarch; just as it would add to the romance of London to linger about Lambeth and Westminster in the hope of seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury locked in a deadly grapple with the President of the Wesleyan Conference. And if we return to our homes at evening without having actually seen these things with the eye of flesh, the vision has none the less shone on our path, and led us round many corners with alertness and with hope. But in bald fact religion does not involve perpetual war in the East, any more than patriotism involves perpetual war in the West. What it does involve in both cases is a defensive attitude; a vigilance on the frontiers. There is no war; but there is an armed peace.

I have already explained the sense in which I say that the Moslems are unhistoric or even anti-historic. Perhaps it would be near the truth to say that they are prehistoric. They attach themselves to the tremendous truisms which men might have realised before they had any political experience at all; which might have been scratched with primitive knives of flint upon primitive pots of clay. Being simple and sincere, they do not escape the need for legends; I might almost say that, being honest, they do not escape the need for lies. But their mood is not historic, they do not wish to grapple with the past; they do not love its complexities; nor do they understand the enthusiasm for its details and even its doubts. Now in all this the Moslems of a place like Jerusalem are the very opposite of the Christians of Jerusalem. The Christianity of Jerusalem is highly historic, and cannot be understood without historical imagination. And this is not the strong point perhaps of those among us who generally record their impressions of the place. As the educated Englishman does not know the history of England, it would be unreasonable to expect him to know the history of Moab or of Mesopotamia. He receives the impression, in visiting the shrines of Jerusalem, of a number of small sects squabbling about small things. In short, he has before him a tangle of trivialities, which include the Roman Empire in the West and in the East, the Catholic Church in its two great divisions, the Jewish race, the memories of Greece and Egypt, and the whole Mahometan world in Asia and Africa. It may be that he regards these as small things; but I should be glad if he would cast his eye over human history, and tell me what are the large things. The truth is that the things that meet to-day in Jerusalem are by far the greatest things that the world has yet seen. If they are not important nothing on this earth is important, and certainly not the impressions of those who happen to be bored by them. But to understand them it is necessary to have something which is much commoner in Jerusalem than in Oxford or Boston; that sort of living history which we call tradition.

For instance, the critic generally begins by dismissing these conflicts with the statement that they are all about small points of theology. I do not admit that theological points are small points. Theology is only thought applied to religion; and those who prefer a thoughtless religion need not be so very disdainful of others with a more rationalistic taste. The old joke that the Greek sects only differed about a single letter is about the lamest and most illogical joke in the world. An atheist and a theist only differ by a single letter; yet theologians are so subtle as to distinguish definitely between the two. But though I do not in any case allow that it is idle to be concerned about theology, as a matter of actual fact these quarrels are not chiefly concerned about theology. They are concerned about history. They are concerned with the things about which the only human sort of history is concerned; great memories of great men, great battles for great ideas, the love of brave people for beautiful places, and the faith by which the dead are alive. It is quite true that with this historic sense men inherit heavy responsibilities and revenges, fury and sorrow and shame. It is also true that without it men die, and nobody even digs their graves.

The truth is that these quarrels are rather about patriotism than about religion, in the sense of theology. That is, they are just such heroic passions about the past as we call in the West by the name of nationalism; but they are conditioned by the extraordinarily complicated position of the nations, or what corresponds to the nations. We of the West, if we wish to understand it, must imagine ourselves as left with all our local loves and family memories unchanged, but the places affected by them intermingled and tumbled about by some almost inconceivable convulsion. We must imagine cities and landscapes to have turned on some unseen pivots, or been shifted about by some unseen machinery, so that our nearest was furthest and our remotest enemy our neighbour. We must imagine monuments on the wrong sites, and the antiquities of one county emptied out on top of another. And we must imagine through all this the thin but tough threads of tradition everywhere tangled and yet everywhere unbroken. We must picture a new map made out of the broken fragments of the old map; and yet with every one remembering the old map and ignoring the new. In short we must try to imagine, or rather we must try to hope, that our own memories would be as long and our own loyalties as steady as the memories and loyalties of the little crowd in Jerusalem; and hope, or pray, that we could only be as rigid, as rabid and as bigoted as are these benighted people. Then perhaps we might preserve all our distinctions of truth and falsehood in a chaos of time and space.

We have to conceive that the Tomb of Napoleon is in the middle of Stratford-on-Avon, and that the Nelson Column is erected on the field of Bannockburn; that Westminster Abbey has taken wings and flown away to the most romantic situation on the Rhine, and that the wooden "Victory" is stranded, like the Ark on Ararat, on the top of the Hill of Tara; that the pilgrims to the shrine of Lourdes have to look for it in the Island of Runnymede, and that the only existing German statue of Bismarck is to be found in the Pantheon at Paris. This intolerable topsy-turvydom is no exaggeration of the way in which stories cut across each other and sites are imposed on each other in the historic chaos of the Holy City. Now we in the West are very lucky in having our nations normally distributed into their native lands; so that good patriots can talk about themselves without perpetually annoying their neighbours. Some of the pacifists tell us that national frontiers and divisions are evil because they exasperate us to war. It would be far truer to say that national frontiers and divisions keep us at peace. It would be far truer to say that we can always love each other so long as we do not see each other. But the people of Jerusalem are doomed to have difference without division. They are driven to set pillar against pillar in the same temple, while we can set city against city across the plains of the world. While for us a church rises from its foundations as naturally as a flower springs from a flower-bed, they have to bless the soil and curse the stones that stand on it. While the land we love is solid under our feet to the earth's centre, they have to see all they love and hate lying in strata like alternate night and day, as incompatible and as inseparable. Their entanglements are tragic, but they are not trumpery or accidental. Everything has a meaning; they are loyal to great names as men are loyal to great nations; they have differences about which they feel bound to dispute to the death; but in their death they are not divided.

Jerusalem is a small town of big things; and the average modern city is a big town full of small things. All the most important and interesting powers in history are here gathered within the area of a quiet village; and if they are not always friends, at least they are necessarily neighbours. This is a point of intellectual interest, and even intensity, that is far too little realised. It is a matter of modern complaint that in a place like Jerusalem the Christian groups do not always regard each other with Christian feelings. It is said that they fight each other; but at least they meet each other. In a great industrial city like London or Liverpool, how often do they even meet each other? In a large town men live in small cliques, which are much narrower than classes; but in this small town they live at least by large contacts, even if they are conflicts. Nor is it really true, in the daily humours of human life, that they are only conflicts. I have heard an eminent English clergyman from Cambridge bargaining for a brass lamp with a Syrian of the Greek Church, and asking the advice of a Franciscan friar who was standing smiling in the same shop. I have met the same representative of the Church of England, at a luncheon party with the wildest Zionist Jews, and with the Grand Mufti, the head of the Moslem religion. Suppose the same Englishman had been, as he might well have been, an eloquent and popular vicar in Chelsea or Hampstead. How often would he have met a Franciscan or a Zionist? Not once in a year. How often would he have met a Moslem or a Greek Syrian? Not once in a lifetime. Even if he were a bigot, he would be bound in Jerusalem to become a more interesting kind of bigot. Even if his opinions were narrow, his experiences would be wide. He is not, as a fact, a bigot, nor, as a fact, are the other people bigots, but at the worst they could not be unconscious bigots. They could not live in such uncorrected complacency as is possible to a larger social set in a larger social system. They could not be quite so ignorant as a broad-minded person in a big suburb. Indeed there is something fine and distinguished about the very delicacy, and even irony, of their diplomatic relations. There is something of chivalry in the courtesy of their armed truce, and it is a great school of manners that includes such differences in morals.

This is an aspect of the interest of Jerusalem which can easily be neglected and is not easy to describe. The normal life there is intensely exciting, not because the factions fight, but rather because they do not fight. Of the abnormal crisis when they did fight, and the abnormal motives that made them fight, I shall have something to say later on. But it was true for a great part of the time that what was picturesque and thrilling was not the war but the peace. The sensation of being in this little town is rather like that of being at a great international congress. It is like that moving and glittering social satire, in which diplomatists can join in a waltz who may soon be joining in a war. For the religious and political parties have yet another point in common with separate nations; that even within this narrow space the complicated curve of their frontiers is really more or less fixed, and certainly not particularly fluctuating. Persecution is impossible and conversion is not at all common. The very able Anglo-Catholic leader, to whom I have already referred, uttered to me a paradox that was a very practical truth. He said he felt exasperated with the Christian sects, not for their fanaticism but for their lack of fanaticism. He meant their lack of any fervour and even of any hope, of converting each other to their respective religions. An Armenian may be quite as proud of the Armenian Church as a Frenchman of the French nation, yet he may no more expect to make a Moslem an Armenian than the Frenchman expects to make an Englishman a Frenchman. If, as we are told, the quarrels could be condemned as merely theological, this would certainly be the very reverse of logical. But as I say, we get much nearer to them by calling them national; and the leaders of the great religions feel much more like the ambassadors of great nations. And, as I have also said, that ambassadorial atmosphere can be best expressed on the word irony, sometimes a rather tragic irony. At any tea-party or talk in the street, between the rival leaders, there is a natural tendency to that sort of wit which consists in veiled allusion to a very open secret. Each mail feels that there are heavy forces behind a small point, as the weight of the fencer is behind the point of the rapier. And the point can be yet more pointed because the politics of the city, when I was there, included several men with a taste and talent for such polished intercourse; including especially two men whose experience and culture would have been remarkable in any community in the world; the American Consul and the Military Governor of Jerusalem.

If in cataloguing the strata of the society we take first the topmost layer of Western officialism, we might indeed find it not inconvenient to take these two men as representing the chief realities about it. Dr. Glazebrook, the representative of the United States, has the less to do with the internal issues of the country; but his mere presence and history is so strangely picturesque that he might be put among the first reasons for finding the city interesting. He is an old man now, for he actually began life as a soldier in the Southern and Secessionist army, and still keeps alive in every detail, not merely the virtues but the very gestures of the old Southern and Secessionist aristocrat.

He afterward became a clergyman of the Episcopalian Church, and served as a chaplain in the Spanish-American war, then, at an age when most men have long retired from the most peaceful occupations, he was sent out by President Wilson to the permanent battlefield of Palestine. The brilliant services he performed there, in the protection of British and American subjects, are here chiefly interesting as throwing a backward light on the unearthly topsy-turvydom of Turkish rule. There appears in his experiences something in such rule which we are perhaps apt to forget in a vision of stately Eastern princes and gallant Eastern warriors, something more tyrannical even than the dull pigheadedness of Prussianism. I mean the most atrocious of all tortures, which is called caprice. It is the thing we feel in the Arabian tales, when no man knows whether the Sultan is good or bad, and he gives the same Vizier a thousand pounds or a thousand lashes. I have heard Dr. Glazebrook describe a whole day of hideous hesitation, in which fugitives for whom he pleaded were allowed four times to embark and four times were brought back again to their prison. There is something there dizzy as well as dark, a whirlpool in the very heart of Asia; and something wilder than our own worst oppressions in the peril of those men who looked up and saw above all the power of Asiatic arms, their hopes hanging on a rocking mind like that of a maniac. The tyrant let them go at last, avowedly out of a simple sentiment for the white hair of the consul, and the strange respect that many Moslems feel for the minister of any religion. Once at least the trembling rock of barbaric rule nearly fell on him and killed him. By a sudden movement of lawlessness the Turkish military authorities sent to him, demanding the English documents left in his custody. He refused to give them up; and he knew what he was doing. In standing firm he was not even standing like Nurse Cavell against organised Prussia under the full criticism of organised Europe. He was rather standing in a den of brigands, most of whom had never heard of the international rules they violated. Finally by another freak of friendliness they left him and his papers alone; but the old man had to wait many days in doubt, not knowing what they would do, since they did not know themselves. I do not know what were his thoughts, or whether they were far from Palestine and all possibilities that tyranny might return and reign for ever. But I have sometimes fancied that, in that ghastly silence, he may have heard again only the guns of Lee and the last battle in the Wilderness.

If the mention of the American Consul refers back to the oppression of the past, the mention of the Military Governor brings back all the problems of the present. Here I only sketch these groups as I first found them in the present; and it must be remembered that my present is already past. All this was before the latest change from military to civil government, but the mere name of Colonel Storrs raises a question which is rather misunderstood in relation to that change itself. Many of our journalists, especially at the time of the last and worst of the riots, wrote as if it would be a change from some sort of stiff militarism to a liberal policy akin to parliamentarism. I think this a fallacy, and a fallacy not uncommon in journalism, which is professedly very much up to date, and actually very much behind the times. As a fact it is nearly four years behind the times, for it is thinking in terms of the old small and rigidly professional army. Colonel Storrs is the very last man to be called militaristic in the narrow sense; he is a particularly liberal and enlightened type of the sort of English gentleman who readily served his country in war, but who is rather particularly fitted to serve her in politics or literature. Of course many purely professional soldiers have liberal and artistic tastes; as General Shea, one of the organisers of Palestinian victory, has a fine taste in poetry, or Colonel Popham, then deputy Governor of Jerusalem, an admirable taste in painting. But while it is sometimes forgotten that many soldiers are men, it is now still more strange to forget that most men are soldiers. I fancy there are now few things more representative than the British Army; certainly it is much more representative than the British Parliament. The men I knew, and whom I remember with so much gratitude, working under General Bols at the seat of government on the Mount of Olives, were certainly not narrowed by any military professionalism, and had if anything the mark of quite different professions. One was a very shrewd and humorous lawyer employed on legal problems about enemy property, another was a young schoolmaster, with keen and clear ideas, or rather ideals, about education for all the races in Palestine. These men did not cease to be themselves because they were all dressed in khaki; and if Colonel Storrs recurs first to the memory, it is not because he had become a colonel in the trade of soldiering, but because he is the sort of man who could talk equally about all these other trades and twenty more. Incidentally, and by way of example, he can talk about them in about ten languages. There is a story, which whether or no it be true is very typical, that one of the Zionist leaders made a patriotic speech in Hebrew, and broke off short in his recollection of this partially revived national tongue; whereupon the Governor of Jerusalem finished his Hebrew speech for him--whether to exactly the same effect or not it would be impertinent to inquire. He is a man rather recalling the eighteenth century aristocrat, with his love of wit and classical learning; one of that small group of the governing class that contains his uncle, Harry Cust, and was warmed with the generous culture of George Wyndham. It was a purely mechanical distinction between the military and civil government that would lend to such figures the stiffness of a drumhead court martial. And even those who differed with him accused him in practice, not of militarist lack of sympathy with any of those he ruled, but rather with too imaginative a sympathy with some of them. To know these things, however slightly, and then read the English newspapers afterwards is often amusing enough; but I have only mentioned the matter because there is a real danger in so crude a differentiation. It would be a bad thing if a system military in form but representative in fact gave place to a system representative in form but financial in fact. That is what the Arabs and many of the English fear; and with the mention of that fear we come to the next stratum after the official. It must be remembered that I am not at this stage judging these groups, but merely very rapidly sketching them, like figures and costumes in the street.

The group standing nearest to the official is that of the Zionists; who are supposed to have a place at least in our official policy. Among these also I am happy to have friends; and I may venture to call the official head of the Zionists an old friend in a matter quite remote from Zionism. Dr. Eder, the President of the Zionist Commission, is a man for whom I conceived a respect long ago when he protested, as a professional physician, against the subjection of the poor to medical interference to the destruction of all moral independence. He criticised with great effect the proposal of legislators to kidnap anybody else's child whom they chose to suspect of a feeblemindedness they were themselves too feeble-minded to define. It was defended, very characteristically, by a combination of precedent and progress; and we were told that it only extended the principle of the lunacy laws. That is to say, it only extended the principle of the lunacy laws to people whom no sane man would call lunatics. It is as if they were to alter the terms of a quarantine law from "lepers" to "light-haired persons"; and then say blandly that the principle was the same. The humour and human sympathy of a Jewish doctor was very welcome to us when we were accused of being Anti-Semites, and we afterwards asked Dr. Eder for his own views on the Jewish problem. We found he was then a very strong Zionist; and this was long before he had the faintest chance of figuring as a leader of Zionism. And this accident is important; for it stamps the sincerity of the small group of original Zionists, who were in favour of this nationalist ideal when all the international Jewish millionaires were against it. To my mind the most serious point now against it is that the millionaires are for it. But it is enough to note here the reality of the ideal in men like Dr. Eder and Dr. Weizmann, and doubtless many others. The only defect that need be noted, as a mere detail of portraiture, is a certain excessive vigilance and jealousy and pertinacity in the wrong place, which sometimes makes the genuine Zionists unpopular with the English, who themselves suffer unpopularity for supporting them. For though I am called an Anti-Semite, there were really periods of official impatience when I was almost the only Pro-Semite in the company. I went about pointing out what was really to be said for Zionism, to people who were represented by the Arabs as the mere slaves of the Zionists.

This group of Arab Anti-Semites may be taken next, but very briefly; for the problem itself belongs to a later page; and the one thing to be said of it here is very simple. I never expected it, and even now I do not fully understand it. But it is the fact that the native Moslems are more Anti-Semitic than the native Christians. Both are more or less so; and have formed a sort of alliance out of the fact. The banner carried by the mob bore the Arabic inscription "Moslems and Christians are brothers." It is as if the little wedge of Zionism had closed up the cracks of the Crusades.

Of the Christian crowds in that partnership, and the Christian creeds they are proud to inherit, I have already suggested something; it is only as well to note that I have put them out of their strict order in the stratification of history. It is too often forgotten that in these countries the Christian culture is older than the Moslem culture. I for one regret that the old Pax Romana was broken up by the Arabs; and hold that in the long run there was more life in that Byzantine decline than in that Semitic revival. And I will add what I cannot here develop or defend; that in the long run it is best that the Pax Romana should return; and that the suzerainty of those lands at least will have to be Christian, and neither Moslem nor Jewish. To defend it is to defend a philosophy; but I do hold that there is in that philosophy, for all the talk of its persecutions in the past, a possibility of comprehension and many-sided sympathy which is not in the narrow intensity either of the Moslem or the Jew. Christianity is really the right angle of that triangle, and the other two are very acute angles.

But in the meetings that led up to the riots it is the more Moslem part of the mixed crowds that I chiefly remember; which touches the same truth that the Christians are the more potentially tolerant. But many of the Moslem leaders are as dignified and human as many of the Zionist leaders; the Grand Mufti is a man I cannot imagine as either insulting anybody, or being conceivably the object of insult. The Moslem Mayor of Jerusalem was another such figure, belonging also I believe to one of the Arab aristocratic houses (the Grand Mufti is a descendant of Mahomet) and I shall not forget his first appearance at the first of the riotous meetings in which I found myself. I will give it as the first of two final impressions with which I will end this chapter, I fear on a note of almost anarchic noise, the unearthly beating and braying of the Eastern gongs and horns of two fierce desert faiths against each other.

I first saw from the balcony of the hotel the crowd of riotors come rolling up the street. In front of them went two fantastic figures turning like teetotums in an endless dance and twirling two crooked and naked scimitars, as the Irish were supposed to twirl shillelaghs. I thought it a delightful way of opening a political meeting; and I wished we could do it at home at the General Election. I wish that instead of the wearisome business of Mr. Bonar Law taking the chair, and Mr. Lloyd George addressing the meeting, Mr. Law and Mr. Lloyd George would only hop and caper in front of a procession, spinning round and round till they were dizzy, and waving and crossing a pair of umbrellas in a thousand invisible patterns. But this political announcement or advertisement, though more intelligent than our own, had, as I could readily believe, another side to it. I was told that it was often a prelude to ordinary festivals, such as weddings; and no doubt it remains from some ancient ritual dance of a religious character. But I could imagine that it might sometimes seem to a more rational taste to have too religious a character. I could imagine that those dancing men might indeed be dancing dervishes, with their heads going round in a more irrational sense than their bodies. I could imagine that at some moments it might suck the soul into what I have called in metaphor the whirlpool of Asia, or the whirlwind of a world whipped like a top with a raging monotony; the cyclone of eternity. That is not the sort of rhythm nor the sort of religion by which I myself should hope to save the soul; but it is intensely interesting to the mind and even the eye, and I went downstairs and wedged myself into the thick and thronging press. It surged through the gap by the gate, where men climbed lamp-posts and roared out speeches, and more especially recited national poems in rich resounding voices; a really moving effect, at least for one who could not understand a word that was said. Feeling had already gone as far as knocking Jews' hats off and other popular sports, but not as yet on any universal and systematic scale; I saw a few of the antiquated Jews with wrinkles and ringlets, peering about here and there; some said as spies or representatives of the Zionists, to take away the Anti-Semitic colour from the meeting. But I think this unlikely; especially as it would have been pretty hard to take it away. It is more likely, I think, that the archaic Jews were really not unamused and perhaps not unsympathetic spectators; for the Zionist problem is complicated by a real quarrel in the Ghetto about Zionism. The old religious Jews do not welcome the new nationalist Jews; it would sometimes be hardly an exaggeration to say that one party stands for the religion without the nation, and the other for the nation without the religion. Just as the old agricultural Arabs hate the Zionists as the instruments of new Western business grab and sharp practice; so the old peddling and pedantic but intensely pious Jews hate the Zionists as the instruments of new Western atheism of free thought. Only I fear that when the storm breaks, such distinctions are swept away.

The storm was certainly rising. Outside the Jaffa Gate the road runs up steeply and is split in two by the wedge of a high building, looking as narrow as a tower and projecting like the prow of a ship. There is something almost theatrical about its position and stage properties, its one high-curtained window and balcony, with a sort of pole or flag-staff; for the place is official or rather municipal. Round it swelled the crowd, with its songs and poems and passionate rhetoric in a kind of crescendo, and then suddenly the curtain of the window rose like the curtain of the theatre, and we saw on that high balcony the red fez and the tall figure of the Mahometan Mayor of Jerusalem.

I did not understand his Arabic observations; but I know when a man is calming a mob, and the mob did become calmer. It was as if a storm swelled in the night and gradually died away in a grey morning; but there are perpetual mutterings of that storm. My point for the moment is that the exasperations come chiefly from the two extremes of the two great Semitic traditions of monotheism; and certainly not primarily from those poor Eastern Christians of whose fanaticism we have been taught to make fun. From time to time there are gleams of the extremities of Eastern fanaticism which are almost ghastly to Western feeling. They seem to crack the polish of the dignified leaders of the Arab aristocracy and the Zionist school of culture, and reveal a volcanic substance of which only oriental creeds have been made. One day a wild Jewish proclamation is passed from hand to hand, denouncing disloyal Jews who refuse the teaching Hebrew; telling doctors to let them die and hospitals to let them rot, ringing with the old unmistakable and awful accent that bade men dash their children against the stones. Another day the city would be placarded with posters printed in Damascus, telling the Jews who looked to Palestine for a national home that they should find it a national cemetery. And when these cries clash it is like the clash of those two crooked Eastern swords, that crossed and recrossed and revolved like blazing wheels, in the vanguard of the marching mob.

I felt the fullest pressure of the problem when I first walked round the whole of the Haram enclosure, the courts of the old Temple, where the high muezzin towers now stand at every corner, and heard the clear voices of the call to prayer. The sky was laden with a storm that became the snowstorm; and it was the time at which the old Jews beat their hands and mourn over what are believed to be the last stones of the Temple. There was a movement in my own mind that was attuned to these things, and impressed by the strait limits and steep sides of that platform of the mountains; for the sense of crisis is not only in the intensity of the ideals, but in the very conditions of the reality, the reality with which this chapter began. And the burden of it is the burden of Palestine; the narrowness of the boundaries and the stratification of the rock. A voice not of my reason but rather sounding heavily in my heart, seemed to be repeating sentences like pessimistic proverbs. There is no place for the Temple of Solomon but on the ruins of the Mosque of Omar. There is no place for the nation of the Jews but in the country of the Arabs. And these whispers came to me first not as intellectual conclusions upon the conditions of the case, of which I should have much more to say and to hope; but rather as hints of something immediate and menacing and yet mysterious. I felt almost a momentary impulse to flee from the place, like one who has received an omen. For two voices had met in my ears; and within the same narrow space and in the same dark hour, electric and yet eclipsed with cloud, I had heard Islam crying from the turret and Israel wailing at the wall.


Gilbert Keith Chesterton