circa .. .. Very good. - sc 43 manuscript pages typed on one side of 11 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide sheets, with an autograph letter signed by Nick Persoff as cover letter. The material consists of translations by Nick Persoff of what appear to be diaries or short memoirs by Jewish settlers including Israel Shochat, Tova Portugali, Yechezkel Nisamov, Turner, and Igal Portugali, recounting events taking place in Palestine during the early part of the 20th century. Persoff appears to be seeking to interest the scriptwriter and author Ben Hecht in these fascinating narratives. His cover letter, penned in blue ink on an 11 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide sheet apologizes for the poor typing "the girl came highly recommended". He says that he's included "very little material on their relationship to each other, and many of the notes are rather sketchy...." but if Ben Hecht is still interested they can get all of the material. This letter is signed "Nick". The narratives include a 10-page account by Israel Shochat. In this narrative Israel Shochat describes events from his 1904 arrival in Palestine through a meeting in Yitzhak Ben Zvi's room establishing the Bar- Giora organization, later called Hashomer. Hashomer was created to protect Jewish life, its motto here translated as "with blood and fire Judea fell; with blood and fire will Judea rise". A Jewish defense organization it provided protection for Jewish settlements and Kibbutz.
This account, typed on one side of ten 11 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide sheets, describes Israel Shochat's initial interest in agriculture though there was much resistance to Jewish workers in Palestine. Arab and Jewish farmers were often robbed by bandits or troubled by houligans. Shochat's initial interest in protecting the farmers was inspired by the Cherkassian tribe of Arabs "They didn't look like the natives, nor did they dress like the natives. They were small in number, but brave and strong and enjoy great respect from their neighbors....When Chenkin had trouble with any tribe the Cherkessim always came to his help." Forming a group of their own to protect the Jewish farmers, their initial efforts were fraught with trouble caused by the Arab groups which traditionally guarded the fields. "The Arab guards organized the Arab youth in a gang and came together all together to rob the fields that were assigned to the Jewish guards, and to show that they didn't come just to rob for the need of grapes they left bunches and bunches of grapes strewn on the fields...." He later recounts the August 1907 meeting at "Ben Zvi's room" officially forming the Bar Giora. "Our own Sedgera was guarded then by Cherkesim and Beduina. Our first job was to make ourselves fit for the work. We taught out members to shoot. They had to exercise daily after work. Special importance was put on knowledge of the place, the caves, the neighboring tribes, their habits and their fighting strength...."
Always a colorful figure Shochat later went to Constantinople with David Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Zvi to study law. Returning to Eretz Ysrael during the first World War, he suggested the creation of a Jewish brigade to help the Turks defend the country but was deported back to Turkey by the authorities who were suspicious of his motives. In 1925, convinced that the British were the enemies of the Jews, he sought to align his defense group with that of the Soviet Secret Service, though that project failed.
A 9-page account by Igal Portugali, also typed on one side of 11 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide sheets, recounts his colorful adventures as a guard and his relationship with the many Arab tribes, and his service as an honor guard during Baron Rothschild's visit to Palestine.
Igal Portugali helped prepare the settlement of Merchavia which Joshua Hankin had purchased on behalf of the Jewish Colonial Association.
A second account by Igal Portugali, entitled "Igals Story of Vacation" is typed on 14 sheets. The first few pages of this narrative vividly portray the Jewish and Arab tribesmen's relationships to their horses, and the pride they took in them and in their guns. His narrative includes accounts of his father and mother's lives.
A final nine pages include narratives by Tova Portugali, Igal's sister who was married to Mendeleh, as well as by Igal's wife, Igal himself, Turner (a student at the University in Tel Aviv) and a paragraph about Becker. Turner's brief narrative includes the following passage: "Your letter didn't find me in Yama. I have been ordered to Mascha --- The work is very hard here. We are surrounded on all sides by many 'friends' -- as you know these tribes are all very tough. We can expect them as guests each night. --- The nights this time of year are wet and black. You find yourself walking along, feeling your way along the walls. In one hand you hold your gun and with the other you feel your way...."
Though the pages are slightly darkened, they are in very good condition, with several corrections and annotations in ink, presumably by Persoff, throughout. A unique item purchased from the widow of Ben Hecht.