I went to Jaffa the same day and after two days’ delay succeeded in seeing Captain Decker, with the further help of Mr. Glazebrook, who took me with him. The police interfered and tried to keep me from going aboard the ship, but after long discussions I was permitted to take my place in the launch that the captain had sent for the consul.
Captain Decker was interested in what I had to say, and at his request I dictated my story to his stenographer. What became of my report I do not know,—whether it was transmitted to the Department of State or whether Captain Decker communicated with Ambassador Morgenthau,—but at all events we soon began to see certain reforms inaugurated in parts of the country, and these reforms could have been effected only through pressure from Constantinople. The presence of the two American cruisers in the Mediterranean waters has without any doubt been instrumental in the saving of many lives.
FIGHTING THE LOCUSTS
While I was traveling in the south, another menace to our people’s welfare had appeared: the locusts. From the Soudan they came in tremendous hosts—black clouds of them that obscured the sun. It seemed as if Nature had joined in the conspiracy against us. These locusts were of the species known as the pilgrim, or wandering, locust; for forty years they had not come to Palestine, but now their visitation was like that of which the prophet Joel speaks in the Old Testament. They came full-grown, ripe for breeding; the ground was covered with the females digging in the soil and depositing their egg-packets, and we knew that when they hatched we should be overwhelmed, for there was not a foot of ground in which these eggs were not to be found.
The menace was so great that even the military authorities were obliged to take notice of it. They realized that if it were allowed to fulfill itself, there would be famine in the land, and the army would suffer with the rest. Djemal Pasha summoned my brother (the President of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Athlit) and intrusted him with the organization of a campaign against the insects. It was a hard enough task. The Arabs are lazy, and fatalistic besides; they cannot understand why men should attempt to fight the Djesh Allah ("God’s Army"), as they call the locusts. In addition, my brother was seriously handicapped by lack of petroleum, galvanized iron, and other articles which could not be obtained because of the Allies’ blockade.