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Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus

John M. Shaftesley

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus* JOHN M. SHAFTESLEY, O.B.E., B.A. There are ancient and strong connections between Cyprus and Jews. Besides Biblical and post-Biblical references, we learn that in the sixteenth century, when Sultan Selim of Turkey took the island from the Venetians, on the advice of Don Joseph Nasi, Duke of Naxos, Joseph?as the Jewish Encyclopedia primly puts it?'came near attaining the dignity of the Cyprian crown'.1 If it is not near lese-majeste so to add, the closest to direct ruling of the island that a Jew achieved in later times was when, in the nineteenth-century period I shall deal with, one was Deputy Chief Constable for the whole island. At least it was a position directly under the Crown! In 1878 Cyprus, although still nominally a Turkish province, was occupied by Great Britain as one of the consequences of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and was adminis? tered by a High Commissioner like a Crown Colony. The Treaty of San Stefano, in March 1878, signed by the Russians and the Turks, was revised by the European Powers at the famous Berlin Congress in June and July the same year, the Congress in which the Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli, played so notable a part. Two particular items arising from this Treaty?besides the endemic troubles accruing to them wherever Russia was con? cerned?affected Jews, the one influencing the other in an unforeseen direction. The Treaty provided for the independence of, among other countries, Rumania, and it also, through its new rule over Cyprus, began Britain's control of the eastern Mediterranean. RUMANIAN DUPLICITY Rumania, however, with a notorious, indeed predetermined, lack of good faith, utterly failed to put into practice one of the conditions expressly laid down in the Treaty by the Berlin Congress for that country's indepen dence: briefly, Article 44, by which all citizens, including the Jews, should have proper and legal equality. So far from doing this, the Rumanian Government squirmed into every possible degrading and devious expedient to avoid emancipating its Jews, stubbornly refusing even to 'naturalise' (I put that in quotation marks specially) Rumanian Jews not only born in the country but coming from families of generations of Rumanian birth. This was apart from the Rumanians' active persecution of native and alien Jews alike, the latter not always benefiting from any protection they might conceivably have expected from their countries of origin. On the contrary, for example, in a century which had already witnessed precedents in similar agreements between other countries, Austria and Rumania negotiated Commercial Treaties in 1875 and 1887 which specifically excepted thousands of Austrian Jews in Rumania from their proposed mutual benefits. The notorious Rumanian Premier, Bratianu, alleged that the terms of Article 44 were an 'injury' done to the country by the Alliance Israelite Universelle.2 Small wonder, then, that Jews in Rumania, besides Jews in Russia driven by pogroms and other oppressions, sought desperately to emi? grate to friendlier areas. (Some were Jews also expelled for political reasons, with at least one interesting result?the acquiring by the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation in England in 1887 of a Haham in the person of Dr. Moses Gaster, lately of Bucharest, after a hiatus of some years.) These were the times of the great emigrations to the U.S.A., to England, and to other countries, besides the beginning of the modern aliyah to Palestine. Among the smaller places canvassed for opportunities of resettle? ment was Cyprus. To this island few Jews could hope to migrate. The area was obviously restricted in extent, opportunities for trade and industry almost nil, and the best that could be thought of even by * Paper delivered to the Society 3 February 1969. i See Jewish Encyclopedia (1903), Vol. IV, p. 401. 2 See Jewish Chronicle, 28 Oct. 1887, p. 11, col. B. 88</page><page sequence="2">Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus 89 optimists was the founding of a limited agricul? tural colony. It is not true to say that Jews had forgotten how to be agriculturists since the Dispersion, and in fact there were Jewish farmers in many countries, including especially the Caucasus and other parts of Russia. But in 1887, Russia began to expel also the Jewish farmers of Tiflis.3 The migrants were mainly petty traders, artisans, workers, hawkers. Nevertheless, desperate circumstances shaped ideas and judgments on the Jewish plight?to many philanthropic minds, non-Jewish in? cluded, work on the land, wherever it might be, was the panacea for the disease of rootlessness, holding out an answer to the false gibe that Jews never engaged in hard manual labour and were not 'producers'4 and an assurance of anchorage and sustenance, even prosperity, through one's own meritorious endeavours. The first of the cultures, like the Garden of Eden, was agriculture. Thus came about in the 1880s, following various earlier attempts by Russian Jews, the Vineland Colony in New Jersey, U.S.A., called the 'Alliance' Colony after the Alliance Israelite Universelle in France, but granted $10,000 by the London Mansion House Fund for refugees, other colonies in Far Western Canada, a further one suggested in Mexico, and so also the stress (for other reasons as well) on agriculture in the Return to Zion, with the establishment of Rishon-le-Zion, Petach Tikvah, Zichron Yaakov, Rosh Pinah, and so on, after the founding by the Alliance in 1870 of the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School near Jaffa. Of the great Jewish philan? thropists of the era, the names particularly of Baron Edmond de Rothschild and Baron de Hirsch (the latter especially in regard to the lea?Jewish Colonisation Association?colon? ies a little later in Argentina) became almost synonymous with the word agriculture. It was a conception never absent from Jewish speeches or the pages of the Jewish press everywhere in those days. ZIONIST CONGRESS OPPOSITION Work on the land is not to be decried, for as yet it is the primary source of mankind's physical welfare and survival, but Jewish pedlars, tailors, and glaziers, many middle aged, were a little unprepared for the sudden transformation into farmers, with the result that much suffering often ensued and many of the agricultural experiments failed. This was regrettably the course of events in three suc? cessive attempts between 1883 and 1900 to settle Jews in farming colonies in Cyprus. I have no doubt that this consideration, besides the natural Zionist orientation, was very much in the minds of delegates at the Third Zionist Congress in Basle in August 1899?among whom was one in the English group who had had first-hand experience of Cyprus over a decade before?when they turned down the suggestion of Davis Trietsch,5 originally a member of the Kadimah Association in Berlin, that Jewish colonisation should, because of the 3 Ibid., 25 Nov. 1887, p. 5, col. B; 23 Dec. 1887, p. 9, col. B. 4 The subject was much in the minds of Jews at that period. An article entitled Jews and Industries', by Dr. David Philipson, for example, appeared in the Menorah (New York) for February 1888, tra? versing and controverting the charge that Jews were consumers and not producers. 5 Davis Trietsch was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1870 and died in Tel Aviv in 1935. He was a keen Zionist and attended the First Zionist Con? gress in 1897, as an opponent of Theodor Herzl's platform. Trietsch urged immediate colonisation of Palestine, with industrial complexes based on garden cities, and argued for colonisation in neighbouring areas also, including Cyprus and El Arish. These views he expressed in his journal Volk und Land, and he pursued his ideas in other periodicals he helped to found and in several books. Much of his ideas sprang from studies of immi? gration he made while living in New York from 1893 to 1899. (See Zionism, by Richard J. H. Gottheil (Philadelphia, 1914), p. 120; History of Zionism, by Nahum Sokolow (London 1919), vol. I, p. 284, vol. II, p. 292; New Palestine, 1 Feb. 1935; Univ. Jewish Encyc. (New York, 1948), vol. 10, p. 308, and sources quoted there; The Balfour Declara? tion, by Leonard Stein (London, 1961), pp. 212, 321; and A Jewish Cyprus Project: Davis TrietscKs colonisation scheme, by Oskar Rabinowicz (New York), extended reprint from Herzl Tear Book, Vol. 4, 1962.)</page><page sequence="3">90 John M. Shqftesley frustration felt at the Sultan's continued pro? crastinations, as a pis aller, be transferred to Cyprus.6 Herzl seems then to have opposed the idea, but while in London in 1902 to give evidence before the Royal Commission on Aliens, he suggested to Lord Rothschild the settling of a Jewish colony in such British territory as the Sinai Peninsula or Cyprus. A pamphlet was actually presented to the Commission entitled 'The Problem of Jewish Immigration to England and the United States Solved by Furthering the Jewish Colonization of Cyprus'.? As a kite it did not even fly. At the time of the British takeover in 1878 Jewish interest in Cyprus was almost non? existent. In a dispatch to the Jewish Chronicle in August 18788 A. M. Luncz, who became well known in Jerusalem as a printer and publisher, wrote that 'at present' there were no Jews on the island. The only contact was a commercial one, when one Jew made kosher wine there for export; on one occasion he took a few other Jews with him from Jerusalem to help with the crop and they were delayed, so they held Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services on the island. In the next two years there were occasional reports of the settling of a few Jews. In January 1880 we learn, among items communicated from Beirut, that there were ten Jewish families at Larnaca and two or three in Nicosia, and the Chief Police Officer in the area 'is an Israelite'.^ The policeman's name is not given?a too-frequent dreary habit of omission in newsgathering in those days? but I am able to say from other sources that he was Paul Blattner, who will appear later again in this story. News of Jews in Cyprus slackens off until in April 1882 a question about them pops up in the House of Commons. Mr. W. Molesworth-St. Aubyn (Conservative M.P. for Helston) asked on 20 April 1882 whether the Jews in Cyprus would be qualified to sit on the local Council or vote at elections. To which Sir Charles D?ke, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies ?it was of course before his notoriety?replied that there were only 69 Jews, who would not be deprived of political rights. They would have votes with the non-Mohammedan popu? lation.^ Lord Kimberley, Secretary of State for the Colonies, assured a correspondent worried about the state of the Jews under the new Constitution in Cyprus that, as the census showed only 69 of them, it was plainly im? possible to assign separate representation to so small a fraction, but they, with other non Christians, other than Moslems, would be qualified to vote for the nine representatives assigned to the majority of the population. A mild query from the Jewish Chronicle asked for a more clearly defined position,11 and this was followed by a letter in the issue of May 1212 from Mr. L. Gluckstein Grahame, of The Temple, disclosing that it was he who was Lord Kimberley's correspondent and he had also got his friend Mr. St. Aubyn to put his ques? tion in the Commons, 'with the entire acquies? cence of Baron Henry de Worms in the course pursued.' Henry de Worms, M.P. (later Lord Pirbright), was then President of the Anglo Jewish Association. He, Serjeant Sir John Simon, M.P., and Samuel Montagu, M.P. (later Lord Swaythling), were for years the most prolific putters of questions in Parliament on subjects of Jewish concern. This was the year of the infamous May Laws in Russia, which, combined with pogroms, spurred on Jewish efforts to emigrate. America and England became the chief refuges, the refugees incidentally beginning to excite some of the same social problems and arguments rife in England again today with different immi? grants. A Jewish relief fund was begun by Messrs. Louis Cohen and Sons. Christian sympathies were also engaged, and in London the Lord Mayor, Sir J. W. Ellis, established, as the successor of the Louis Cohen fund, the 6 See Stenographisches Protocoll des III Zionisten Congresses, p. 232. See also Jewish Chronicle, 9 March 1900, p. 23, col. B, and 16 March 1900, p. 21, col. A. 7 See note 1; but neither the British Museum nor the House of Commons Library possesses a copy of the pamphlet, nor is it mentioned in the minutes of the Royal Commission. ? 30 Aug. 1878, p. 5, col. B. 9 See J.C., 30 Jan. 1880, p. 10, col. B. io Ibid., 5 May 1882, p. 13, col. A. n Ibid., 28 April 1882, p. 5, col. B. 12 Page 6, col. B.</page><page sequence="4">Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus 91 Mansion House Fund for refugees mentioned above, 13 which, besides having such eminent Jews on its Committee as Sir Julian Goldsmid, Dr. Asher Asher, and Samuel Montagu, with N. S. Joseph as Hon. Secretary, worked in close concert with the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association. The Fund must have helped at least 20,000 Jews, 1,000 of them settling in England.!* CYPRUS AS LAND OF HOPE It was not long before the name of Cyprus cropped up. In July 1882 the Globe newspaper, which frequently engaged itself in Jewish questions, wondered 'Would it be possible to find room and employment at Cyprus for some of the unfortunate Hebrews who are flying from Russia? The United States begin to cry "Hold, enough!" and for some reason or other the project for transporting these miserable emi? grants to Palestine hangs fire' [the 'reason or other' was the Sultan's decree that Russian and Rumanian Jews could stay only one month, 15 some years later extended to three months, as visitorsi6]. The Globe pointed out that a correspondent in a Manchester paper thought the island would 'make an admirable field for the cultivation of cotton'?formerly Cyprus was famous for it?and that, the local labour supply not being enough, a contingent of Russian Jews might be imported, especially as, with their keen commercial instinct, they were likely to inject fresh energy into the trade and export possibilities. I7 This suggestion, if not exactly in the form of cotton-planting, bore some bitter-sweet fruit. Still in 1882, a new society had been organised in London, under the presidency of Viscountess Strangford, a benevolent, pro-Jewish lady whose husband had been British Ambassador in Constantinople, 18 and the Earl of Shaftes bury, calling itself the Syrian Colonisation Fund. 19 Its office was at 41 Parliament Street, S.W., and its Secretary was Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Finn, widow of the former well-known British Consul in Jerusalem, James Finn.20 The society made itself responsible for sending a group of 200 Russian refugee Jews to settle as farmers near Latakia, Syria, bought the land, and provided them with equipment.21 It was suspected, in the light of Mrs. Finn's and Lord Shaftesbury's well-known connections with missionary societies, that this philanthropic move covered conversionist intention, but a paper called Der Colonist, established on 1 December 1882 at Kattowitz as the organ of the several European Jewish societies for the colonisation of Palestine, to which cause any profits it made were to be devoted, said that the settlers near Latakia need not fear prosely? tising motives, 'as a sacred promise was given to them that neither in the colony itself nor in its immediate neighbourhood would any missionary be allowed to carry on any propa? ganda'.22 In subsequent letters, Mrs. Finn disclaimed any missionary intentions on the part of the society, 'this not being a missionary Society. The object of the Committee is to relieve persecuted Jews, and to secure for them civil and religious liberty, in token of Christian sympathy on account of wrongs inflicted by other ignorant Christians who know not the history of the Jewish nation, or that our Messiah was the Son of Abraham and of David; for His sake we love His people.'23 Some enthusiasm for the society was even burg. He obtained concessions from the Sultan in Turkey for minority subjects, especially Christians, but at home he was a strong opponent in the House of Lords of the Reform Bill. Lady Strangford died in 1887 (see J.C., 1 April 1887, p. 6, and 8 April 1887, p. 5). 19 See J.C., 27 Oct. 1882, p. 11, col. B. Mrs. Finn, in her recollections (Reminiscences of Mrs. Finn, London, 1929), is strangely silent about this society. In the book's last paragraph (see pp. 253-254), she has dictated to her amanuensis brief details of the founding of the 'Society for the Relief of Distressed Jews', and does not mention either Latakia or Cyprus. i3 See J.C., 27 Oct. 1882, p. 9, col. A. "Ibid., 9 July 1886, p. 7, col. A; 30 Sep. 1887, p. 9, col. B; and 7 Oct. 1887, p. 5, col. A. is Ibid., 27 Oct. 1882, p. 11, col. B. ? Ibid., 20 Jan. 1888, p. 5, col. A; p. 16, col. A. i7 Ibid., 28 July 1882, p. 7, col. B. is Lord Strangford (1780-1855), the sixth Viscount, was British envoy at various times in Lisbon, Sweden, Constantinople, and St. Peters 20 See note 62. 21 See J.C., 5 Jan. 1883, p. 7, col. A. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid., 29 Feb. 1884, p. 5, col. A.</page><page sequence="5">92 John M. Shqftesley engendered abroad, for the South Australian Register, in September and October, 1883, announced the formation in Adelaide of a sup? porting branch of Christian and Jewish ladies.24 London was the scene of the opening meeting of this colony's prospective tenants, 'carefully chosen' by the Fund, at the house of Mrs. Finn at 75 Brook Green on 23 April 1882. There were 45 families of Russian refugees, who had arrived in London hoping for employment. The Mansion House Fund, it was reported, could give them no help, and they resolutely refused to go on to America. They included agriculturists, builders, carpenters, etc. The Fund agreed to build in Latakia a synagogue, a slaughterhouse, and a mikveh (ritual baths), and, in answer to the colonists' request, Lord Shaftesbury bought them a Sefer Torah, which was presented at this meeting by Lady Strang? ford. A Portion of the Law was read from it and the Scroll was then handed to the old Rabbi, one of the party. They were to sail from London to Syria on August 28.25 AN ENGLISH SOCIETY'S APPEAL Joseph Massel seems to have acted as the colony's reporter, for he supplied information on its progress to Hamagid, the Hebrew news? paper. This in turn was translated and re? printed in Rabbi Dr. Adolph Salvendi's Spenden Verzeichnisse in D?rckheim, from which we learn that the colonists travelled via Paris, Marseilles, Alexandria, Jaffa, Beirut, and Tripoli, reaching Latakia in three weeks. The English Consul was very friendly towards them, and conditions at the colony were good. It was Rosh Hashana soon after they arrived, and they brought with them a shofar as well as the Sefer Torah. Their rabbi acted as Reader and Shochet. Besides Massel, two others added their names to the report, Abraham Goldstein, from Hungary, and Akiba Ziporin. The colony did not prosper, however. In August 1883 the Syrian Colonisation Fund appealed through the press for contributions towards the immediate resettlement of these Jews.27 'However', went on the statement, signed by Lord Shaftesbury and Mrs. Finn, 'Difficulties having arisen as to their settlement in Syria the Committee acceded to their request to be allowed to land in Cyprus. Her Majesty's Government have allotted to these colonists a free grant of land some three square miles in extent, in a healthy part of the island. The committee now earnestly appeal for donations for the final settlement of these dis? tressed people. The land must be instantly cleared, houses built, wells sunk, and grain sown for next year's harvest. With moderate outlay the colony will become self-supporting. Her Majesty's Commissioner reports that "since their arrival they have shown themselves to be most orderly and respectable and deserving of any help they may receive". These people settled, the committee will proceed with their main work of relieving refugee Jews in the Holy Land, by giving them agricultural and other employment'. The island at that time already had, accord? ing to a computation made a month before, 69 Jews on the electoral roll, as was declared in the Parliamentary statement, and this meant that there were about 550 Jews in Cyprus.2? In a report dated 7 August 1883 and pub? lished in the Jewish Chronicle on 7 September, 29 that paper's Jerusalem correspondent said that, the scheme at Latakia having been abandoned, the 'English Christian society', as he termed it, had given orders to ship the colonists to Cyprus, 'where better prospects were said to await them'. Of the 42 families who had spent a year at Latakia, 25 accepted the society's offer. The rest either went back to Russia or were on their way to England. (Already the different slant in the interpretation of events, according to which side you were on, was revealing itself. The society had said it was acceding to the colonists' request; now we hear it was an offer by the society which not all accepted.) The refugees on the way to England had been 24 See J.C., 1 Dec. 1883, p. 5, col. B. 25 Ibid., 25 Aug. 1882, p. 10, col. B. 26 See, e.g., Vol. vii, 22 Nov. 1882. I am very grateful to Mr. A. Schischa for drawing my atten? tion to, and supplying me with copies of, reports in Dr. Salvendi's journal. 27 See J.C., 10 Aug. 1883, p. 5, col. B 28 Ibid., 20 July 1883, p. 9, col. B. 29 Page 13, col. A.</page><page sequence="6">Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus 93 obliged to stop and go ashore at Jaffa, this Jerusalem correspondent (no doubt Mr. Luncz) taking the opportunity to talk with them. Their report was depressing. They ad? mitted to constant quarrelling and hatred, to which they attributed their failure, but praised their Christian benefactors, who, they said, caused no conversionist propaganda to be exercised. They nevertheless still had secret doubts about their sponsors' motives, especially as they had been thrown indiscriminately into the company of 'worthless individuals from various parts of the Russian Empire'. Intel? lectual solitude, however, especially the want of schools for their children, caused much of their discontent. Moreover, from letters from friends in Cyprus, they learned that the 'fever and ophthalmia' from which they suffered terribly at Latakia?presumably this meant malaria or ague and trachoma?were raging even more in Cyprus and the heat was over? powering. Those who went to Cyprus, they said, did so because they had no other choice, the families having been sent there from London. UNFITTED FOR COLONISATION In a short leader the following week the Jewish Chronicle^ said that 'From a letter written by one of the colonists and dated from Limasol (Cyprus) on the 12th ult., it is to be feared that the better prospects . . . are likely to prove a delusion. According to . . . the writer, the district in which they have been established is as unfitted for the purposes of colonisation as were their original quarters in the neighbourhood of Latakia ... no means for building houses . . . soil . . . sterile. ... It would be far preferable even to repatriate these poor people than to allow them to continue to suffer as they have done. . . .' I hazard a guess from later correspondence that the unnamed writer of this letter was Joseph Massel. At any rate, these criticisms stung Mrs. Finn into a lengthy response, and now began a long series of claims, counter? claims, charges, and counter-charges. Mrs. Finn, on 21 September 1883,31 wrote to 'correct inaccuracies', first referring to 'un? desirable characters' at Latakia, who could not therefore go to Cyprus or stay in Latakia and had been given the means to go to an unspeci? fied 'elsewhere'. Cyprus, she said, had been chosen for the main body of 'our colonists', 'because for the first time in history Turkish authorities have declared immigration of Jewish settlers to be unwelcome in the Land of Promise'.32 She praised the good and healthy situation in the hills of the Cyprus colony?it was at Kuklia, near Papho (Paphos)?and quo? ted a report in the Cyprus Herald on the project. The Herald, explaining that among the bounties conferred on the newcomers was an exemption from all taxes until 31 March 1884, issued some moral exhortations to them to deserve their good fortune by working hard and living economically 'in order to render themselves independent of the charity which has been bestowed upon them'?the typical tones of Victorian patronage. Disclaiming any wish to grudge the help the colonists were receiving, the paper nevertheless compared their good fortune with the natives' misfor? tunes. 'It is so often the case', it said, 'that the English, when they act on a matter of senti? ment, are liable to overdo it, that we are not surprised to see in this instance the amount of care and money which has been expended upon these people. . . . We imagine there are many poor peasants in the Island who will envy them their one year's immunity from taxa? tion. . . . We trust, therefore, that the Jewish community of Kouklia will never give their enemies a chance of saying that the confidence of the Committee in England has been mis? placed or its charity thrown away.' The sub? sistence allowance given each settler by the society, by the way, was 4d. a day, perhaps a lot of money in those days and in Cyprus, but the Government suggestion had been 6d. Mrs. Finn herself concluded with the pious hope that the committee would receive its reward in the prosperity of the colony in a refuge provided with British protection 'for some at least of the deserving though destitute 30 14 Sept. 1883, p. 3, col. B. 31 See J.C., 21 Sept. 1883, p. 5, col. A. 32 See note 15.</page><page sequence="7">94 John M. Shaftesley Jews exiled from Europe*. It sounds a little like the evaporated milk of human kindness. MIDSUMMER SHUTTLECOCK Some confusion is added by a report from the Jewish Chronicle*sM Haifa correspondent, dated 1 September 1883, who speaks of the misfor? tunes of 'upwards of sixty' of the Latakia colonists. The Syrian Colonisation Society's efforts in Syria having failed, he says, the agent of the society, a Mr. Buchunen [ ? Buchanan], 'gave instructions that the colonists should be transferred to Cyprus'. They were therefore conveyed across to Larnaca in a sailing vessel, but the port sanitary authorities refused them permission to land, though, the Haifa reporter continued, they seemed to have a clean bill of health. The ship's captain had no option but to return to Latakia, where the sanitary authori? ties equally refused them permission to land. Found to be free of cholera or other infectious disease, they were finally granted freedom to go ashore?but now the Mutasserif, the local official, fell back on the general Turkish prohibition against Jewish emigrants into Syria and Palestine, although they had left only a few days before after nearly a year's residence. He insisted that the captain take the Jews back to Cyprus, which was impossible, and they were left cooped up in a small ship in the heat of a Mediterranean August. The Mutasserif was inexorable even in the face of earnest pleas from the humanitarian British Vice-Consul to exercise some compassion. The correspondent concludes with a demand to know on what grounds the refugees were forbidden to land in Cyprus. I have been unable to discover what happened to this ship, but it possibly went to Alexandria, where, as will be shown later, Colonel Albert Goldsmid met some colonists. (There is a little confusion in timing but in this respect newspaper reports were often vague.) Editorial comment in the Jewish Chronicle of 15 February 1884 deals with the terrible privations of the Cyprus colonists.34 As many as 56, or one-third of the total, were sick and several had died. Three miles had to be tra? versed for water, the climate was unsuitable, and the land, situated in mountains, was sterile. The paper asked the Mansion House Fund to come to the rescue. Mrs. Finn contro? verted all these charges,35 saying that Her Majesty's Commissioner reported that the land granted by the Government was the best in his extensive district, with thousands of olive and carob trees on it, and some good corn land. The colonists, however, suggested being given land on the plains, a request being considered. In the same issue of the paper,36 a report 'from a Russian Jew (who until lately was a member of the Russo-Jewish Colony first settled by the Committee of the Palestine Colonization Fund at Latakia . . . and then removed to Cyprus)' [I again suspect this was Massel?he is further described as 'a man of some qualifications'] confirms the paper's accounts of hardship, reaffirms the keeping of the committee's promise to avoid proselytising, but gives a dim account of the amenities of the transferred settlement, 'six hours' distance on foot from Papho, which itself is eighteen hours from Limassol', on stony soil and water? less, in so unfavourable a position that a visiting English farmer expressed his astonishment. The settlers were now in Papho itself and wanted help to return to Russia. MISREPRESENTATIONS Mrs. Finn, in reply,37 blamed the Turkish authorities for not letting Jews settle on land in Latakia at all (her italics). She said the British Government made the advantageous Cyprus offer and arranged the conditions, provided the Society guaranteed ?52 per family for their establishment. It emerges indirectly that there were now two kinds of colonists?those direct from Latakia and others direct from Europe, for Mrs. Finn says the health of the former was better than that of the latter. By 3 March 1884 Joseph Massel was in London and he soon issued a long correction of 33 21 Sept. 1883, p. 5, col. A. 34 Page 4, col. A. 35 See J.C., 22 Feb. 1884, p. 5, col. B. 36 Ibid., p. 10, col. B. 37 Ibid., 29 Feb. 1884, p. 5; col. A.</page><page sequence="8">Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus 95 Mrs. Finn's statements,^ pointed out that he himself had originally praised her society's attempts in Hamagid (this Hebrew newspaper, at that time published, under the editorship of David Gordon, at Lyck, East Prussia, for years a busy junction in the migration of Russian and Polish Jews, had reported on the Latakia venture at its beginning). Massel reveals that a Mr. Friedland was the author of the glowing description of the accommodation offered in Cyprus, but when the party arrived there the society's agent, Mr. Langhorne, told them it belonged to a person in Alexandria and the society could not undertake to buy it for them. What the Government gave them was Mount Orides, 2,000 feet above sea level and over? grown with centuries-old thorns and bushes, extremely difficult to uproot. There was no water, even after digging down 18 yards for a well. Massel patiently analyses all of what he calls Mrs. Finn's confusions or misrepresen? tations and asks what had become of the petition they sent to Lord Shaftesbury the previous November (1883) refusing the Government grant and asking for a more favourable site. He deals with the question of the small grants stopped by the society but restored on the orders of a judge in Papho, and states that six families left in Russia, including his own, were to have come to Cyprus on Mrs. Finn's pro? posal, but were stopped from doing so by the agent. This agent gave Massel the small sum of ?5 on condition that he signed a paper stating that he had no further claims on the society. Again Mrs. Finn countered with detailed denials.39 She said the estate granted by the Government was only 600 feet above sea level, about 14 miles from Bafo (Papho) on the way to Limassol, and spring water was plentiful and native assistance available. Joseph Massel, whom she referred to as 'that person,' came to Cyprus at the end of September, she alleged, 38 Ibid., 14 March 1884, p. 7, col. A. It is probable that this was not Joseph Massel's first visit to Lon? don. From the dominant part he took in the arguments with Mrs. Finn, it can be assumed that he was one of the leaders at the initial meeting in her house in Brook Green in August 1882 (see above and note 25). October was occupied by fasts and festivals, and he left at the end of November, having worked thus only a few days, although the society had supported him fully. Nor, she added, was there any truth in MassePs report of the appeal to law over the colonists' subsis? tence grants. Massel, joined this time by a colleague, Abraham Goldstein, and writing from 29 Colchester Street, Commercial Road, in the issue of the Jewish Chronicle of 2 May 1884,40 sends a translation of a letter from Cyprus dated 18 Nisan 5644 (equivalent to 13 April 1884), signed by 31 fathers of families, sup? porting Massel's original statements and adding that, as the first appeal to Lord Shaftes bury had elicited no reply, they appealed again in March 1884 for a decision, but had had a stern note refusing to acquire any other land, repudiating any claims if the colonists disobeyed and telling them that henceforth maintenance would cease and they could go whither they liked. Writing again the following week41 from the same address, Massel quoted telegrams and letters received on the stopping of the colonists' daily 4d. allowance each. The agent had left for Limassol, and Massel charges Mrs. Finn with suppressing the agent's unfavourable reports on the site of the previous November. In further response, on 16 May 1884,42 Mrs. Finn catalogues all the items related by Massel, Goldstein, and the others, and characterises them as 'thoroughly untrue', adding that Gold? stein had been 'expelled from the colony for misconduct'. (Goldstein indignantly denied this charge.43) Mrs. Finn insists on the suit? ability of the site in every way, but, she con? cludes, the Committee will not send money for those who do not choose to work. She hints at having evidence of 'the source whence these perversions of truth have come', gives statistics showing only six deaths out of 170 persons from 25 September 1883 to 14 December 1883 and none since, and sends again the moralising extract from the Cyprus Herald quoted above. 39 Ibid., 28 March 1884, p. 5, col. B. 40 Page 6, col. A. 41 See J.C., 9 May 1884, p. 6, col. A. 42 Ibid., 16 May 1884, p. 5, col. A. 43 Ibid., 23 May 1884, p. 6, col. B.</page><page sequence="9">96 John M. Shqftesley Despite another communication from Mrs. Finn on 20 June,44 quoting from a letter by an anonymous visitor to Cyprus, who praised unreservedly the 'splendid property' at Orides, the Jewish Chronicle stated editorially on 4 July45 that 'the official authorities of the island con? firmed to a large extent the accounts given by Mr. Massel of the unfortunate position of his fellow "colonists" ' [the paper puts the word in quotation marks], and that 'a summary con? clusion has been put to the peregrinations and sufferings' of these Russian Jews. Though they were not suited to 'the life selected for them', the Chronicle added, this failure 'cannot be regarded as any proof of the inability of Jews to lead an agricultural life'. It was regretted, however, that no other solution could be found than sending the colonists back to Russia, especially as a fresh pogrom in Nijni-Novgo rod showed that 'the more Russian Jews are kept out of Russia the better'. SENT BACK TO RUSSIA But several of the colonists asked to return to Russia, and the Mansion House Fund arranged for 47 of them to be taken to Odessa, where, the correspondent of the Daily News reported casually, they had returned as desti? tute British subjects. They were to be sent to their homes in the interior, by the authorised assistance of the British Consul-General in Odessa.4^ It is tempting, in the light of certain present day manifestations, to speculate on what might have happened if these new colonial 'British subjects', Cypriot made, had taken advan? tage of their unexpected status to come direct here, although we must remind ourselves that thousands of aliens were finding admittance here anyway, some to stay and others as trans? migrants. Nevertheless, Mrs. Finn returned to the sub? ject, late in August 1884,4? briefly repeating her claims and charges, but adding that, observing with sorrow the increasing distresses of the Jews in many lands, the Syrian Colonisa tion Fund proposed to go on trying to help them. LORD SHAFTESBURY'S VINDICATION Lord Shaftesbury, in an interview with a representative of the Glasgow Evening News early in October 1884, was reported to have made excuses for the settlers and placed the blame for their failure on others, besides confirming that the site was sterile and water scarce.48 He thus vindicated Massel, but Mrs. Finn asserted49 that she had had a telegram from his Lordship saying he would contradict the 'erroneous statements' ascribed to him in the Glasgow paper. That is where the Anglo-Jewish press, at least, leaves the matter, no contradiction being reported, but there was an echo over two years later. Mrs. Finn's Society for the Relief of Persecuted Jews (this was now the name of the former Syrian Colonisation Fund) having held a meeting in Pimlico, as reported in the Daily News on 21 March 1887, the Jewish Chronicle again took up the cudgels.50 It did not impugn Mrs. Finn's good intentions or zeal over proposals to help poor Jews in Jerusalem or London, but it reminded its readers of the Cyprus fiasco in connection with the Syrian Colonisation Fund. In September 1884 Spenden Verzeichnisse quoted a report from Habazeleth (Jerusalem), from one of the settlers, Salomon Josef Gutt woch, describing the sorrowful end of the ex? periment. Joseph Massel and Abraham Goldstein had telegraphed to Cyprus, after a meeting in London, saying the English Com? mittee were writing to General Budolf, British Commander in Nicosia. The colonists' high hopes had been sadly dashed, even the bread allowance had been withdrawn by the agent, a friend of Michael Friedland, who had advised the Committee to withdraw all support from them. They therefore sold the rest of their goods to pay to transfer their wives and child? ren by boat, and the men walked 15 hours over 44 See J.C., 20 June 1884, p. 6, col. A. 45 Ibid., p. 4, col. A. "Ibid., p. 11, col. B. 47 Ibid., 29 Aug. 1884, p. 4, col. B. 48 Ibid., 17 Oct. 1884, p. 4, col. A. 49 Ibid., p. 6, col. A. so Ibid., 25 March 1887, p. 5, col. B., p. 10, col. B. 51 See Spenden Verzeichniss, Col. viii, 17 Sept. 1884.</page><page sequence="10">Nineteenth-Century Jewish Colonies in Cyprus 97 stones and rocks to join a ship at Limassol to take them to Palestine. Thirteen people thus emigrated, helped by the agent of the Austrian steamship company, who charged only half fare. Michael Friedland, mentioned bitterly several times in succeeding messages, was a Jew converted to Christianity. Perhaps we can here say a little about Joseph Massel, who will have been known to a number of people still living. He was born in Ujasin, Vilna, in 1850, and died in Manchester, aged 62, in 1912. There is some confusion in the reference books about the date of his com? ing to England; the Jewish Encyclopedia*2 says 'the nineties', the obituary notice in the Jewish Chronicle^ says 1882, which is probably right. From the evidence above, he was also in Latakia in 1882, in Cyprus in 1883, and in London in 1884. Apparently in that year, he returned to Russia for the family he said he had left there (see above), and he must have mi? grated again to Britain in 1884 or 1885, after his daughter Sarah had been born. Miss Sarah Massel, the family tell me,54 was born abroad, but her brother Simon, two years younger, was born in Edinburgh in 1886. The family had arrived in Scotland via Leith, which was how they came to be for a time in Edinburgh. They then moved to Manchester,55 where Joseph Massel became very well known as a Hebrew printer and publisher, as well as poet, a Warden of the New Synagogue, founded in 1889, and a fervent Zionist, attending the First, Second, and Third Zionist Congresses (1897, 1898, and 1899) as one of the British delegates. It must have been at these Congresses that the much younger Chaim Weizmann, born 1874, struck up a friendship with Massel, for Weizmann, in relating in his autobiography5^ how he came as a stranger to Manchester in 1904, says that Massel, who showed him many kindnesses, was the only man he knew there, but gives no indication of how he came to know him. Massel also had connections with a London publishing firm called Greenberg and Co., of Chancery Lane, for whom he printed and edited at least one book, Gallery of Hebrew Poets (1903). Greenberg was the Leopold J. Greenberg who became Hon. Secretary of the English Zionist Federa? tion, an opponent of Weizmann, and in 1907, till his death in 1932, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle. Zionism was a feature of the Massel household, and as early as 1900 the daughter Bertha (later Mrs. Bertha Ryness, of Notting? ham) was the Hon. Secretary of the Manchester Daughters of Zion, with Mrs. Goldstone, a founder, as President.5? After his death, Joseph's printing business was carried on by his son Simon, who lived for a time in Palestine. RUMANIAN JEWS WARNED We move back to Cyprus, where, it was reported in December 1885, a first batch of Rumanian Jews, 27 families,5^ fleeing from oppression, 'sought the protection of the British flag'. They were to form an agricultural colony near Larnaca, and other large groups intended to follow. Their inspirer was Davis Trietsch. The Jewish Chronicle, however, on December 25,5^ uttered a warning. While it strongly sympathised with the suffering Jews, it felt bound to warn the promoters 'against any premature development', because it had not forgotten the collapse of the Russian colony the year before. If this experiment failed, the circumstances in Rumania made it impossible for the new settlers, unlike the Russians, to return to their mother country, where even 52 Vol. VIII (1904), p. 373. 53 13 Sept. 1912, pp. 24-25. 54 I am indebted for some of the family details to Joseph Massel's grandson, Mr. A. David Massel (son of Simon Massel), secretary of the Jewish Defence Committee of the Board of Deputies, and to a granddaughter, Mrs. Elsie Slavid, daughter of Joseph Massel's daughter, the late Mrs. Alexandra Ryness. 55 The Massels were certainly living in Man? chester in 1888, as two of the young daughters won prizes at the Manchester Jews' School in March that year (see J.C., 30 March 1888, p. 12, col. A). 56 See Trial and Error (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1949, and East and West Library, London, 1950), pp. 125-126, 132, 136. 57 See J.C., 16 March 1900, p. 28, col. B. The Manchester Daughters of Zion give the year of the founding of their society as 1902 (on their present notepaper), but this is obviously wrong, as seen from the evidence of the J.C. report now mentioned. ss See Jewish Encyc. (1903), Vol. IV, p. 401. 59 25 Dec. 1885, p. 5, col. A.</page><page sequence="11">98 John M. Shaftesley natives, if they were Jews, were considered strangers. On reading this, the same day, Colonel Albert E. Goldsmid, who hardly needs intro? ducing as the champion of the Chovevi Zion organisation, wrote a letter, which was pub? lished on 1 January 1886.60 He argued against the Chronicle's warning as not pertinent. He recalled that on 30 April 1883, after visiting Palestine, he was in Alexandria, and he heard from Baron Menasce of the arrival there of the Latakia Jews, en route to Cyprus. Paying them a visit, he found these poor people 'in charge of a missionary, a so-called converted Jew', and looking most unlikely to have the stamina for agricultural work. But the Rumanian Jewish types, bronzed-faced and horny-handed, he argued, were different?look at the success they had made of Zimmarin (Zichron Yaakov) in Palestine, with the help of 'a noble-spirited and wealthy French coreligionist', by whom he meant Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Our old friend, Mrs. Finn, as befits a lady, tried to have the last word. She replied?i that Colonel Goldsmid appeared to have been mistaken. None of the Jews helped by the Syrian Colonisation Fund had ever been in Alexan? dria, and at that date most of them were in Syria. She suggested that he must have seen a different party, in the charge of a 'Christian Israelite'. Then, in slightly contradictory form, she said only 14 of their men, with the women and children, had passed through Alexandria and they were fine physical specimens. She went on to plead for time and patience to show ?as she and her husband had in 185062?that Jews could become 'active and hearty labour? ers', and she said that those who had remained in their care had reaped one harvest and were now (in 1886) sowing their second crops. But she didn't say where, so one presumes she still meant Cyprus. On this occasion she wrote for the first time from the Fund under its new title of Society for the Relief of Persecuted Jews. DEPUTIES AND A.J.A. INTERVENE That the Chronicle's forebodings were, how? ever, borne out appears first from a telegram from the Ezrath Nidachim Society in Jerusa? lem? in June 188664 to Rabbi Dr. J. [Israel] Hildesheimer-^ in Berlin beseeching help for the Cyprus colonists 'in danger of moral as well as physical death'. The 'moral death', one gathers, meant the danger of conversion. Temporary help was sent. On 6 August 1886 a letter was published in the Jewish Chronicle from the Ezrath Nidachim Society, Jerusalem, signed by its President, Solomon Salmen, and three others, appealing for English sympathy for the Rumanian Jews in Cyprus, misled by Michael Friedland, 'whom we know to our sorrow on account of his proceedings in con? nection with the settlement of Jews in Cyprus in the year 5643' (1883). Friedland, they said, had induced 30 Jewish families in Rumania to hand him 500 francs per family, promising to get them settled in Cyprus through the London Committee. They found shocking conditions; 175 Jews, hungry and in ill-health, had sent two of th