BOOK DETAILS

Your Land Is Our Land

Your Land Is Our Land

by H Edward Schmidt

ASIN: B07467F6NV

Publisher H. Edward Schmidt

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Alternate History, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

$2.99

The time the turbulent 1930's, the place a bitterly divided world struggling against empires, people following dreams and nurturing resentments, Troubles in Europe spill into Palestine and burst to the surface when the Arabs revolt against the British occupiers, calling for a halt of Jewish immigrants forced to flee Hitler's Germany. In the midst of the struggle, lifelong friends Ismael Latif and Sarah Poletsky, one fighting for freedom, the other for peace.

In America, powerful forces are calling for war. Two Senators are determined to prevent it. Sarah's father Arach joins them.

Sample Chapter

Prologue

“Compared to what lay southeast, it is the land of milk and honey, indeed.”

October, 2014

John still felt the warm glow from the half Guinness as he stood on the beach. Guinness was not a favorite of his, but who could resist slaking their thirst at Molly Bloom’s green lacquered Irish Pub, just steps away from the roaring sea below. Only the top of the red sun was visible now, slowly sinking into the dark green Mediterranean. The October breeze was warm and gentle on his face; the beach still crowded; the rising and falling sea moving onto the beach then receding, drowning every sound but its own. As he turned to walk down the beach, he could see the lights of Jaffa and the blinking lighthouse beacon. Over a hundred years ago! It was there that the Poletsky family came ashore, there that they viewed the land of their dreams!

To his left, Tel Aviv had turned on its lights, their glow replacing the light of the sun. What must have it been like then, when his great grandfather Captain John Nevers had soldiered here and he and his great grandmother Sarah had fallen in love? After the shameful murder of her husband, the British community expected her to return to England. She did not but stayed to devote her life to the young Palestinian children she loved so dearly.

John Nevers V knew Palestine well. His grandfather had grown up in Jerusalem, the city that Jews, Christians and Muslims all considered their spiritual home. As a child of the British community, many of his friends were British, or members of the other European and North American enclaves. Yet his grandfather often reminded him that Great Grandmother Sarah had a different and wider circle of friends that included Muslims and Jews. His grandfather told him he could often sense the discomfort that existed with Sarah’s American and European friends in her presence. Sarah was born a Jew; born in Odessa, became a Christian like John, and dedicated her life to teaching Palestinian Muslim children and all those clever things the foreign community might want to say about Jews and Arabs couldn’t be said in her presence.

The beautiful beach and the Mediterranean before him, and recalling his visits as an engineer to other parts of the Middle East, it was easy to see why this land always was fought over, and religion was but one part of the reason, perhaps not a reason at all, but a justification. Compared to what lay southeast, it is the land of milk and honey, indeed.

Shoes in hand, he stood for a long time and watched the white caps form, felt the water rush over his feet, and basked in the warm breeze. How peaceful the land seemed and how blessed! It made him think again of Grandmother and how she is remembered throughout the world as one of gallant few who caused the miracle of 1939.

Part I

… and now the entire village was out of their houses, beginning to move closer together as the sound grew louder.

October, 1935

To Yusef, the thin layer of windblown clouds made the moon appear to race across the sky, lighting the pampas to the horizon. From the west, storm clouds that seemed to rise out of the ground behind the hills. The wind increased from the southwest, flattening the tall grass, making the herd restless; held together only by the dogs that seemed to know which of the massive bulls might cause the herd to bolt. Yusef smiled as he watched the dance of the prancing, snorting bulls and the silent dogs which would dart in to confront the bulls then rush to the next that might panic the herd. He was one of the first to use herding dogs on the pampas, importing them from Australia, crosses between English herding dogs and dingoes.

Five gauchos circled the herd, singing softly to quiet the restless cattle, nervously watching the lightning bolts flash across the sky to the west. The thunder claps louder, the lightning bolts coming closer and more frequent. Yusef has chosen a spot in a draw to make it easier to control the herd when the storm struck. When the Indian gauchos spoke of the tall man with the piercing black eyes, they spoke of his riding and roping skills and of their loyalty to him, and they called him the Turco. They knew to many it was a derisive name of those who came from the Middle East, to the gauchos when they spoke of Senor Yusef, it was a title of respect.

Yusef al-Dajani had collected his cattle over the past week and should reach the railhead the next day. Since his arrival fifteen years ago, he had worked to become the estancia owner he was today. Persuading the Bissett’s to loan him the money almost ten years ago, he had purchased the 4000 hectare ranch when beef prices were depressed and Alfonso Diaz wanted to sell and live out his life with his family in Cordoba. There had been times when Yusef could barely meet the payments on his loan, but the last years had been good ones. The drought in the United States had reduced the number of cattle for market and raised the price of Argentine beef. Getting the herd to the railhead and settling with the buyer should make him the free and clear owner of the Diaz estancia. He had not changed the name; he knew that his Arabic name still made him an outsider with the other ranchers. Like other Arab immigrants, he was a Turco. Although the Turks had been defeated and swept from Palestine almost two decades ago, the immigrants were still called Turcos. He smiled when he the thought of the time twenty years before when the Turks were his bitter enemy. He knew he was different, too, because he chose to live on his estancia. Most ranchers with large estancias like his lived in Cordoba and Buenos Aires, some in Spain and England and had never been to Argentina.

The moon slid behind the storm clouds; darkness enveloping the pampas. Only vague outlines, the roaring wind, the bellowing cattle, the excited voices of the gauchos as they struggled with the dogs to keep the cattle huddled together. Yusef heard it before it struck. Hail! Stinging the men and animals, ice pellets quickly coated the earth with a layer of fast melting ice. Behind the hale came the rain, so heavy that the men could not see the heads of their horses.

Men and animals no longer could be heard above the roar of pelting ice and torrential rain. Yusef spurred his mount to move among the gauchos, shouting to them.

“Move the herd to the top of the hill! Get them out of the draw!” He could not hear the running water but sensed it, knowing what could happen if the herd is caught in the torrent that was sure to come. Quickly, the gauchos circled behind the herd and with the dogs that seemed to know what had to be done, joined in moving the cattle. Within minutes, the herd began to move like a single beast. Water began to rush past the short legs of the Herefords that quickened their pace, sensing death if they were swept away. As the gauchos cleared the draw, the hail stopped and the rain slackened to a steady downpour.

The storm ended with the same suddenness as it began. To the west, the sky turned indigo blue and the moon lit the edges of the racing clouds. Soon, the moon appeared, brightening the pampas, the terror gone, and the animals slowly began to herd up and settle down. Many quickly lay down, once again becoming the gentle animals before the storm.

The mestizo gauchos were smiling now, talking rapidly among themselves as they passed each other. The drive would be over and they could see their families again. Yusef sat by the fire, gazing at the flame. In such moments he often thought of home and his homeland, Ahmed, family and Sarah.

February 1936

At first, when the word was spread through the small valley, there was disbelief. The land they had farmed for generations no longer belonged to the owner in Beirut but had been sold to the Jewish national Fund. The holdings took in the entire valley, over 20,000 dunams. Over five hundred families were living on the land, able to feed themselves and earn a small surplus each year. Part of that surplus had to be paid to the owner of the land Georgios Pakapolous who had acquired the land in the nineteenth century during the time of the Ottoman Empire land reform. Although there were often grumbling among the tenant farmers, the arrangement allowed life to go on in their village. They paid little attention to the news that land nearby had been purchased from absentee landlords and taken over by the Jewish settlers. They became more concerned when relatives among those evicted from their land came to the small valley asking for help for their families. More mouths to feed and families to have homes just made each a little poorer.

It was then that the villagers who farmed the valley came to the Mukhtar, expressing their fears of what might happen to them. The Mukhtar promised he would contact British officials in Nazareth and relay their concerns. Within days of the meeting, officials from Nazareth arrived in a motorcar to meet with the Mukhtar. When news reached the farmers in the fields, they quickly assembled in the village to hear what the visitors had to say about their land. The Mukhtar, Yusef Batat, felt better that the officials were all Arabs who had lived among them for years. Surely, they would understand the desperate situation of the farmers and would offer some hope for staying on the land and working for the new owners.

Wasif Khaleh was the spokesman for the visitors. He was accompanied by two armed men. Abd Hamdan, one of the leaders among the farmers, watched Khaleh begin to squirm as he spoke. The two men with him seemed to be expecting trouble. Abd felt his heart sink before a word was spoken.

Khaleh read from a paper from a case he carried. “The land in this valley has been purchased by the Jewish National Fund in Jerusalem from Georgios Pakapolous of Beirut. The size of the purchase is 20,000 dunams and the transfer is complete. The Jewish National Fund is the new owner. a representative of the fund asked me to inform all the tenant farmers on this land that they must vacate the houses in the villages and that they will no longer be able to farm the land. Although the Fund has the right to demand that the tenants vacate immediately, they will allow 30 days to find other accommodations and work. The Fund will also provide transportation for all your families within 100 kilometers of village.”

The crowd that stood in front of Khaleh was silent—stunned by what they heard; trying to sort out what was just said. Abd Hamdan spoke. “We cannot leave the land. Our fathers and their fathers have farmed this land. We want the new owners to come talk to us. Until that time, we will stay in our village and farm our land.”

Khaleh looked at the men in front of him. Fear raced through him like an electrical shock. What he did next would determine whether he left the village alive or not. The two armed guards, nervously touching their handguns could not protect him. The position he held in the property records office paid well. His family lived well, better than most other families he knew who did not work for the British. Yet there was a price to be paid, a very high one. He was branded a pariah by all who knew him. Looking around at the angry faces, he packed away his papers and spoke quickly: “I will ask that someone from the Fund get in touch with you” glancing quickly at Batat. He nodded toward his two bodyguards, who followed him quickly to the motorcar. The stunned men of the village dispersed and the square was soon empty. Left only the sound the motorcar and that, too, was soon gone.

Weeks had passed. The farmers met often, and when they did, their words were angry and driving their anger the fear of a future they could not accept as real. Surely, Allah will not let them lose their land. The British will not desert 500 families, over three thousand souls. The Jews will allow them to stay on the land. Abd Hamdan was almost alone in trying to lift the spirits of the others, of trying to rally them to resist.

***

A lone rooster crowed defiantly as the sky began to lighten over the hills east of the valley. The farmers in the village who had wakened first heard the low rumble coming on the road from Haifa. Darkness still covered the valley floor and all but the crowns of the hills. The sound grew louder and now the entire village was out of their houses, beginning to move closer together as the sound grew louder.

Now the outline of motorcars and lorries could be seen. The motorcars were open and the men inside were visible. The lorries that followed were full of men, packed together. The motor car and the lorries were sand brown, the color of the British army! Abd Hamdan had seen such convoys many times heading toward Haifa or west toward Tiberius. Perhaps they will simply pass us by, he thought. But the fear and excitement that filled him told they would not pass by.

Continues...

Excerpted from "Your Land Is Our Land" by H Edward Schmidt. Copyright © 2017 by H Edward Schmidt. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

H Edward Schmidt

H Edward Schmidt

H. Edward Schmidt spent most of his working life with the Federal Government serving in the Army in Europe, the Peace Corps in Washington and Ethiopia and the Congressional Research Service in Washington. He now lives with his wife Patricia in Maryland. They have seven children, twenty one grandchildren and four grandchildren. It is his Ethiopian experience that occurred at a time when events that inspired the story The Black Lion and the Crocodile were happening.

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