The Handbook of Palestine/preface
The Handbook of Palestine has been written and printed during a period of transition in the administration of the country. While the book was in the press the Council of the League of Nations formally approved the conferment on Great Britain of the Mandate for Palestine ; and, consequent upon this act, a new constitution is to come into force, the nominated Advisory Council will be succeeded by a partly elected Legislative Council, and other changes in the direction of greater self-government, which had awaited the ratification of the Mandate, are becoming operative. Again, on the ist July, 1922, the administrative divisions of the country were reorganized. The editors of the Handbook have endeavoured, to the best of their ability, to keep pace with these changes and to make the work as up-to-date as possible ; but, in view of the difficulties with which they have been faced in this con- nexion, they ask the indulgence of their readers if, at times, events have moved faster than the printer.
They desire gratefully to acknowledge the assistance that has been so readily placed at their disposal. In the first place they wish to thank the High Commissioner for the encouragement he has given them in their task, and for being good enough to contribute the introduction to the volume. They are also indebted in general to Governors and Heads of Departments, and in particular to Sir Wynd- ham Deedes, Mr. Ronald Storrs, Mr. N. Bentwich, Mr. J. B. Barron, Mr. J. N. Stubbs, Mr. G. Blake and other officials too numerous to mention here, who have kindly
supplied them with information regarding their particular spheres. Several members of the Administration have helped, too, in matters outside their departmental work, and a debt of gratitude is due in particular to Colonel E. R. Sawer, Director of Agriculture, to Dr. W. K. Biggar, Messrs. I. Aharoni, E. Rabinovitch, and P. A. Buxton for the sections on Natural History ; to Mr. E. T. Richmond for a valuable review of the Moslem architecture of Palestine, a task not previously attempted elsewhere ; to Professor Garstang and Mr. W. J. Phythian- Adams for several notes. To Colonel R. B. W. Holmes, General Manager, Palestine Railways, they owe permission to use the map which is attached to the volume.
They are greatly indebted to Pere H. Vincent, O.P., of the Ecole de S. Etienne, for the review of the Christian archi- tecture of Palestine, and to Bishop Maclnnes and Canon H. Danby for the paragraphs respectively on the Anglican diocese and on Judaism in Palestine after 70 a.d. Dr. C. R. B. Eyre; Sub-Warden of the Hospital of the Order of S.John of Jerusalem, has kindly contributed the section on the postage stamps of Palestine, Lt. -Colonel H. Pirie-Gordon's Palestine Pocket Guide-books have been consulted with advantage ; and material help in connexion with the preparation of the volume for press has been received from Mr. A. G. Antippa of the Palestine Civil Service.
H. C. L. E. K.-R.
If I were called upon to express in a single word the dis- tinguishing characteristic of Palestine I should say Diversity — diversity of religions, diversity of civilizations, diversity of climate, diversity of physical characteristics. If the traveller wishes for coolness in the summer, he may live 3,000 feet above the level of the sea ; if he wishes for warmth in the winter, he may live 1,000 feet below. He may find among the Beduin of Beersheba precisely the conditions that prevailed in the time of Abraham ; at Bethlehem he may see the women's costumes, and, in some respects, the mode of living of the period of the Crusaders ; the Arab villages are, for the most part, still under mediaeval conditions ; the towns present many of the problems of the early nineteenth century ; \>i:hile the new arrivals from Eastern and Central Europe, and from America,, bring with them the activities of the twentieth century, and sometimes, perhaps, the ideas of the twenty-first. Indeed, it is true to say that in Palestine you can choose the climate, or the century, that you prefer. And these conditions are found in a country so small that it is easy to motor in a single day from the northernmost town to the southernmost, and in a morning from the eastern boundary to the sea.
These diversities would be enough to lend to Palestine an unusual interest ; but her position as the birthplace of religions renders that interest unique. Still farther is it enhanced by the conditions of the present time.
Palestine has witnessed many and great changes in the four thousand years of her recorded history. But it is necessary to go back to the time of the Crusades for Si change as fundamental as that which is involved in the! ending of the Turkish Administration and the substitution of a British Mandate. An era of new development opens widely before her. A multitude of new problems arise. To the importance of the country as a centre of religious associations, new political and economic considerations are added.
In these circumstances a Handbook of Palestine — accurate and readable as this Handbook is — will be of service ; both to those whose interest is dista.nt, and to those who, more fortunate, are able to visit the country, to experience the charm of its scenery and climate, to come into contact with its history, to study at first hand the many complexities of its present-day problems, and, above all, to hear the voice^ of its spiritual appeal.