March 23, 2011

Wiping Palestine off the map

This is a straight lift from Ellis Sharp's Barbaric Document.





Here is a portrait of the Holy Land as a physical embodiment of faith. Conjuring up the beauty of Israel's countryside, this volume also evokes the all-consuming passions and deep-rooted mysteries of Jerusalem.
Israel’s countryside? H.V. Morton’s book was first published in October 1934. The map in my edition, published one year later, shows a place called Palestine. I wonder what happened to it? (You can find a very personal account here.)

Morton was a travel writer who enjoyed enormous success. But he had a dark side.





















A battered copy of In the Steps of St Paul accompanied me on a trip round Turkey (it wasn’t battered before the trip, incidentally). Morton is a great writer, and his description of Paul in Rome is one of the best passages about the apostle that I’ve ever read.

Sadly, however, the writer himself is not so loveable. A crypto-fascist who found a spiritual home in South Africa and whose efforts in the war were at odds with his secret admiration for Hitler: this is not a man who one can admire. Perhaps he realised this himself; perhaps the character revealed by his diaries was not the whole truth. 
He always kept his personal life carefully guarded, because he didn’t want people who admired ‘H.V. Morton the author’ to be dismayed by ‘Harry Morton the man.’
UPDATE - woops,  I had to correct this.  It wasn't Morton referring to Palestine as Israel, it was the Book Depository.  I'll let Ellis's post speak for itself but I can now tag the post to hasbara.

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