Zamarind [Rosh Pina]
The experiment of associating Jews and Moslem fellahin in field labor will be an interesting one to watch, and the preliminary discussions on the subject were more picturesque than satisfactory. The meeting took place in the storehouse, where Jews and Arabs squatted promiscuously amid the heaps of grain, and chaffered over the terms of their mutual copartnership. It would be difficult to imagine anything more utterly incongruous than the spectacle thus presented - the stalwart fellahin, with their wild, shaggy, black beards, the brass hilts of their pistols projecting from their waistbands, their tasselled kufeihahs drawn tightly over their heads and girdled with coarse black cords, their loose, flowing abbas, and sturdy bare legs and feet; and the ringleted, effeminate-looking Jews, in caftans reaching almost to their ankles, as oily as their red or sandy locks, or the expression of their countenances - the former inured to hard labor on the burning hillsides of Palestine, the latter fresh from the Ghetto of some Roumanian town, unaccustomed to any other description of exercise than that of their wits, but already quite convinced that they knew more about agriculture than the people of the country, full of suspicion of all advice tendered to them, and animated by a pleasing self-confidence which I fear the first practical experience will rudely belie.
In strange contrast with these Roumanian Jews was the Arab Jew who acted as interpreter- a stout, handsome man, in Oriental garb, as unlike his European coreligionists as the fellahin themselves. My friend and myself, in the ordinary costume of the British or American tourist, completed the party. The discussion was protracted beyond midnight - the native peasants screaming in Arabic, the Roumanian Israelites endeavoring to outtalk them in German jargon [i.e. Yiddish - JA], the interpreter vainly trying to make himself heard, everybody at cross-purposes because no one was patient enough to listen till another had finished, or modest enough to wish to hear anybody speak but himself. Tired out, I curled myself on an Arab coverlet, which seemed principally stuffed with fleas, but sought repose in vain. At last a final rupture was arrived at, and the fellahin left us, quivering with indignation at the terms proposed by the newcomers.
Sleep brought better counsel to both sides and an arrangement was finally arrived at next morning which I am afraid has only to be put into operation to fail signally. There is nothing more simple than farming in co-operation with the fellahin of Palestine if you go the right way to work about it, and nothing more hopeless if attempted upon a system to which they are unaccustomed. Probably, after a considerable loss of time, money, and especially of temper, a more practical modus operandi will be arrived at. I am bound to say that I did not discover any aversion on the part of the Moslem fellahin to the proprietorship by Israelites of their land, on religious grounds. The only difficulty lay in the division of labor and of profit, where the owners of the land were entirely ignorant of agriculture, and therefore dependent on the co-operation of the peasants, on terms to be decided between them.