Not quite 21, Rudolf traveled to Palestine in January 1919 and stayed until August, acting as the 'Secretary to the Zionist Commission'.
It was difficult at the beginning, trying to set up policy in Palestine under British military occupation.
August 6, 1919:-
On the way [Felix] Frankfurter, professor of Law at Harvard, told us at length of the meeting between L.D.B. [LD Brandeis] and Mr. B.[alfour] which took place the day before.From it all it appears that the latter is very much dissatisfied with things in
, particularly with the narrow military regime guided by disinterested and often prejudiced men.As the various facts were laid before him he finally burst forth with “But what can I do with those damned military men.”They will accept no authority other than the War office.One of them has even demanded that the B. Declaration be withdrawn as unfeasible – to which B. answered that not only would it not be withdrawn but strictly adhered to.And when he was told that the letter addressed to him was circulated throughout Palestine but when his answer was never mentioned or made public he became highly indignant. Among other things he has given assurances that men favorably inclined to Zionism will shortly be sent to replace the present authorities. Palestine
And there was Arab resentment:
The most grave problem, however, is the feeling which seems to be growing among the Arabs against Jews.Constant reports are coming in of petty robberies in the colonies by the natives.It is claimed that the natives are well armed and prepared on short notice to organize and start trouble.Tho at present we place little credence in rumors we are turning over all facts to the British authorities and asking their assurance that there will be no disturbance.
There were demonstrations by the end of 1919 and two almost violent one in February and March 1920 and the first organized riots in April when Jews were killed.
Was Weizmann the right man in the right place at the right time?
Weitzmann is not a big man, he is a clever and calculating politician, he knows how to play the game of diplomacy—but he is not an organizer, and [sic!] executive, or a constructive worker.
I visited an American Charge d’Affairs.He proved to be a nice young man named Gottlieb from N.Y.C. and a Jew.We had a bitter Zionist discussion for over an hour which I hope resulted in another Zionist, but actually netted me an invitation to a meal.He opposed the idea mainly because he had never given it any thought, but secondly because he felt that the movement was a distinctly religious one, and Jewish religion is out of date for practical use.
And it didn't help that he was Jewish. Same story today.
While here in I do little real work, I spend my time sight-seeing – there is enough to keep one busy for months.Wandering thru the old city it takes no stretch of imagination to realize that on almost every spot some history has been made, that its history dates back over three thousand years.Wandering up and down the narrow ways, bazaars on either side, under ancient stone arches, past clumsy grotesquely wrought long-dried founts, sliding down slippery steps, constantly rubbing shoulders with the filthy Bedouins and ragged beggars, and smelling the smells of the ages, one feels that the world has suddenly turned back many centuries.On one of these solitary wanderings yesterday I came suddenly on an overcrowded narrow, paved alley between a low white washed wall and a gigantic ancient wall formed of huge blocks of uncemented stone. Jerusalem
Weeds and grass grew from the crevices between the rocks.The alley was filled with old Jews both men and women, standing several rows deep facing the wall.Many had books.It was the wailing wall of the Jews, the only remaining portion of the old temple.The murmuring of the prayers rose and fell as they read the words aloud and bowed and wept, now and again reverently kissing the rocks.The men stand together in the middle, the women at either end.Behind them, where I was standing a number of beggars plied their trade.I wonder whether all the lamentations and weepings of that motley crowd was sincere.Occasionally one of the tasseled old men would stop his prayers long enough to make a careful survey of the audience which might be watching him, and then return to his laments.
History is quite interesting and even riveting.