IN THE SHADOW OF ZION
Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs from Madagascar, Suriname, Kenya, and Angola courtesy of Mike Kollins. Photographs from Grand Island and Tasmania are from the author's collection. Cartographic images all prepared by Amanda Weaver, Ph.D.
In the summer of 2007 I traveled to the "eighth continent" to see firsthand some of the sites proposed for mass Jewish colonization on the island. Unfortunately I had salmonella during the trip, but with the support of my companions Mike Kollins and Mark Paskowitz, I pressed on.
Grand Island, NY
A few months after I returned from Madagascar, I took the train to upstate New York to visit the site of Mordecai M. Noah's 19th century would-be Jewish city-state of Ararat. Not very exotic, perhaps, unless you consider Buffalo exotic.
Suriname was the site of an 18th century Jewish colony, Jodensavanne. Nearly 200 years later, it was again proposed as a Jewish refuge. I followed in the footsteps of the two commissions (!) sent to examine the former Dutch colony as a potential homeland.
Many people are familiar with the so-called "Uganda Plan" to create a Jewish homeland in East Africa. The site of the proposed territory was actually in Great Britain's East African Protectorate, today Kenya. In summer 2009, I bounced along hundreds of miles of dirt roads in this lost African "Zion."
After the Freeland League for Jewish Colonization's efforts to acquire a piece of northern Australia failed, they turned their attention to extreme southwestern Tasmania. I chartered a plane and a boat to get to Port Davey to pay my respects to a young man, Critchley Parker Junior, who lost his life in pursuit of the Freeland cause.
In 1912 a scientific expedition set out to determine whether Angola, then a Portuguese colony, could be developed into a Jewish homeland. Nearly 100 years later, I followed their route across the Benguela Plateau, fortunately avoiding the millions of landmines still buried beneath the country's soil.