Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Real Palestine: Google Lets You Excavate History

Google never ceases to amaze me.

Every few months Google launches a new service that keeps Microsoft lagging in the dust. Be it Google's amazing search engine, picture search engine, Google earth imagery and map program, language translation tools, Gmail and Gchat, or even something Blogger, Google keeps the web a fascinating place to keep on learning and discovering.

Their latest feature is "Google News Archive Search", that goes back back even before 1900, as old newspapers are being optically scanned into databases for us to be able to query them.

Since XGH and DB are such fans of Palestine, I decided to query it and see what came up. I found a heart-warming post from the most unlikely of newspapers -- The Guardian, from the UK. I don't think I've ever seen a nice word about Israel in their paper...till now.

Their editorial (!!!) from Wednesday November 7, 1917 just leaves you breathless.

We speak of Palestine as a country, but it is not a country; it is at present little more than a small district of the vast Ottoman tyranny. But it will be a country; it will be the country of the Jews. That is the meaning of the letter which we publish to-day written by Mr. Balfour to Lord Rothschild for communication to the Zionist Federation. It is at once the fulfilment of an aspiration, the signpost of a destiny. Never since the days of the Dispersion has the extraordinary people scattered over the earth in every country of modern European and of the old Arabic civilisation surrendered the hope of an ultimate return to the historic seat of its national existence. This has formed part of its ideal life, and is the ever-recurring note of its religious ritual. And if, like other aspirations and religious ideals which time has perhaps worn thin and history has debarred from the vitalising contact of reality, it has grown to be something of a convention, something which you may pray for and dream about but not a thing which belongs to the efforts and energies of this everyday world, that is only what was to be expected, and in no degree detracts from the critical importance of its entry to that world and the translation of its religious faith into the beginnings at least of achievement. For that is what the formal and considered declaration of policy by the British Government means.

For fifty years the Jews have been slowly and painfully returning to their ancestral home, and even under the Ottoman yoke and amid the disorder of that effete and crumbling dominion they have succeeded in establishing the beginnings of a real civiisation. Scattered and few, they have still brought with them schools and industry and scientific knowledge, and here and there have in truth made the waste places blossom as the rose. But for all this there was no security, and the progress, supported as it was financially by only a small section of the Jewish people and by a few generous and wealthy persons, was necessarily as slow as it was precarious. The example of Armenia and the wiping out of a population fifty-fold that of the Jewish colonies in Palestine was a terrible warning of what might at any time be in store for these. The Great War has brought a turning-point. The return of the Turk in victorious power would spell ruin; the rescue of this and the neighbouring lands from Turkish mis-rule was the first condition of security and hope. The British victories in Palestine and in the more distant eastern bounds of the ancient Arab Empire are the presage of the downfall of Turkish power; the declaration of policy by the British Government to-day is the security for a new, perhaps a very wonderful, future for Zionism and for the Jewish race.

Thanks Google!

For your next trick, will you be able to have archived satellite imagery from 100 years ago as well? Now that would be cool...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


tafka PP said...


Ties in somewhat with my latest musings about UK anti-semitism. Things have certainly changed...

Just Passing Through said...

great find Jameel!

O's fan said...

The hard part to fathom is that was referring to the whole Palestine before they broke off TransJordan. If the British wouldn't have unilaterally (i.e. without getting a vote in the League of Nations) given TransJordan to the Palestinians, that would be part of homeland today.

MordyS said...

that is so cool.

bec said...

i knew the guardian wouldn't let us down!!!!

tinablue87 said...


~ Sarah ~ said...

that is a good find!

Bagel Blogger said...

Well Done Jameel. Seems Winston hasn't got to that section of the arhive to rewrite it yet.
[George Orwell 1984 "The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth." ]

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