AUTHOR EDWARD CLINE…FRIEND AND E-PAL FOUND THIS GEM FROM H.L. MENCKEN-“Here’s another excerpt from H.L. Mencken’s “Days Trilogy,” Chapter XIX, “Pilgrimage.” In 1934 he visited the Mideast, stopping in Egypt and “Palestine,” then under the British mandate. He contrasts Jewish lands with Arab lands. Very instructive. Thought you’d be interested in this excerpt. Not much has changed, at lest in terms of Muslim character. (pp. 578-580) ”
” These [Jewish] colonies interested me greatly, if only because of the startling contrast they presented to the adjacent Arab farms. The Arabs of the Holy Land, like those of the other Mediterranean countries, are probably the dirtiest, orneriest and most shiftless people who regularly make the first pages of the world’s press. To find a match for them one must resort to the oakies now translated from Oklahoma to suffering California, or to the half-simian hillbillies of the Appalachian chain. Though they have been in contact with civilization for centuries, and are credited by many fantoddish professors with having introduced it to Europe, they still plow their miserable fields with the tool of Abraham, to wit, a bent stick. In the morning, as Fellman [a Jewish guide HL befriended in Jerusalem] and I spun up the highroad to the north, I saw them going to work, each with his preposterous plow over his back, and in the evening, as we went westward across Galilee, I saw them returning home in the same way. Their draft animals consisted of anything and everything – a milch cow, a camel, a donkey, a wife, a stallion, a boy, an ox, a mule, or some combination thereof.
Never, even in northwestern Arkansas or the high valleys of Tennessee, have I seen more abject and anemic farms. Nine-tenths of them were too poor even to grow weeds: they were simply reverting to the gray dust into which the land of Moab to the eastward has long since fallen. As for the towns in which the Arabs lived, they resembled nothing so much as cemeteries in an advanced state of ruin. The houses were guilt of fieldstone laid without mortar, and all the roofs were lopsided and full of holes. From these forlorn hovels ragged women peeped at us from behind their greasy veils, and naked children popped out to steal a scared look and then pop back.
Of edible fauna there was scarcely a trace. Now and then I saw a sad cow, transiently reprieved from the plow, and in one village there was a small flock of chickens, but the cows always seemed to be dying of pellagra or beriberi, and the chickens were small, skinny, and mangy.
These Arab villages were scattered all about, but most of them were on hilltops, as if the sites had been chosen for defense. Sweeping down from them into the valleys below were the lands of the immigrant Jews. The contrast was so striking as to be almost melodramatic. It was as if a series of Ozark corn-patches had been lifted out of their native wallows and set down amidst the lush plantations of the Pennsylvania Dutch. On one side of a staggering stone hedge were the bleak, miserable fields of the Arabs, and on the other side were the almost tropical demesnes of the Jews, with long straight rows of green field crops, neat orchards of oranges, lemons, and pomegranates, and frequent wood lots of young but flourishing eucalyptus. Fat cows grazed in the meadows, there were herds of goats eating weeds, and every barnyard swarmed with white leghorn chickens. In place of the bent sticks of the Arabs, the Jews operated gang-plows drawn by tractors, and nearly every colony had a machine shop, a saw-mill, and a cannery.