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DOUBLETHINK

‘Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no room in the country for two peoples… the only solution [after World War II ends] is a Land of Israel…without Arabs…’ Yosef Weitz, 1940.

At first glance the photo only seems to show

three men standing side by side on a slope

somewhere in Palestine. They are dressed

like professional men, Americans

or Europeans. The one in the middle

holds a map of some sort in his left hand,

and points at something in the distance

with his right. He is Yosef Weitz, Director,

Land and Afforestation Department,

Jewish National Fund. (An immigrant

from Tzarist Russia, a refugee

from pogroms, he worked on the land, something

Jews were forbidden to do in The Pale.

A dogmatic autodidact his vision

was for Eretz Israel to be a country

of forests – perhaps, unconsciously,

like the forested hills of his birthplace).

On closer inspection there are two others

in the photograph: a woman almost

totally obscured by Weitz, except

for the hem of her long skirt and the top

of her hijab, and a man – obscured

almost totally by one of Weitz’s

colleagues but for his keffiyeh.

The Arab stands behind Weitz, and to his left.

Weitz is leaning back as if it is to

the Arab he is pointing out whatever

he has seen. The Arab also holds the map.

Maybe he is trying to be helpful or

maybe the land is his.

© Copyright David Selzer
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