We were Palestinians once… and young
JEWISH TRANSCRIPT ARCHIVE REVEALS A TIME WHEN PALESTINIAN MEANT JEWISH
Seattle’s JTNews, formerly known as the Jewish Transcript has begun digitizing the newspaper’s archives, making the historic folios available to the public online. Currently there are twenty assorted years of publication featured, dating from their first issue in 1924 through 1971. Browsing through the old papers, one is struck by the quality of the publication in its early years. Each edition contained about eight pages, chock full of detailed and relevant articles relating to the minute details of local synagogue doings to the rebuilding of the Jewish homeland to the grave stirrings of war and impending disaster in Europe.
One is struck in the Transcript of the 1920’s-40’s by the palpable investment in the well-being of the Jewish people that is embedded within every page. There is an excitement in the articles about the Jewish project in Zion. Announcements of Zionist speakers arriving from Palestine were given much coverage as were reports of Arab terror and Jewish struggles. The paper acted as an advocate for the Jewish nation and fiercely lashed out at anti-Semitism in Europe and here in America. Perusing the 1930’s editions it is clear that the editor was starkly aware of the danger facing the Jews of Europe and was clanging the warning bells with as much might as could be mustered.
Perusing the paper from the dark days before US involvement in World War II one finds that while much has changed, much has remained the same. Even as the Transcript documented atrocity upon atrocity heaped upon our desperate European brethren, an article from 1938 tells of prominent American rabbis opposing US intervention against the Nazi death machine. The pacifistic religious leaders declared their renunciation of war declaring “never, will I support another”. The significance of the word “never” would carry an entirely new meaning just a few years later (as in “never again”). This historic news story was especially jarring as it came just a few months after Kristalnacht when the Nazis stated intentions had already translated into tangible horrors.
Transcript articles in the days before the formal creation of the State of Israel focused extensively on the plight of Palestinians. But almost to the one, when referring to Palestinians, the Transcript was referring to Jews. For example one article referred to Palestinian Jewish hero Hanna Senesz as the “Palestinian parachutist” and another publicized an upcoming “Palestinian” themed Purim festival to be held at Seattle’s Herzl Congregation. The Arabs residing under the Ottomans and later the British mandate almost exclusively self identified as Arab.
Please do explore the Jewish Transcript archive, especially the editions from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. You will be impressed by the professionalism, quality of content, prescience (and occasional quirkiness) of Seattle’s Jewish newspaper when it truly was the “Voice of Jewish Washington”.