National Geographic : 1918 Oct
AN OLD JEWEL IN THE PROPER SETTING An Eyewitness's Account of the Reconquestof the Holy Land by Twentieth Century Crusaders BY CHARLES W. WHITEHAIR SINCE King David, nearly three thousand years ago, captured Jeru salem and made it his capital, it has been a coveted prize, sought not so much by the nations for its military im portance as for its sacredness to three of the world's greatest religions. For to the Jew and the Mohammedan, as well as the Christian, Jerusalem is "The Holy City." Throughout its his tory the wearied feet of millions of pil grims from far-distant lands have never ceased to climb over the rocky Judean hills to pay homage and to worship within its sacred walls. To the Jew, as the home of his fore fathers, it has always been of hallowed memory in spite of the hundreds of years of his exile. To the Christian, Jerusalem, with the surrounding country, is truly "The Holy Land," for it is the land of his Lord's birth, His ministry, His crucifixion, His resurrection. Throughout Christendom the names Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, and Garden of Gethsemane are laden with meaning, even to the smallest school child. To the Mohammedan, Jerusalem is second only to Mecca in sanctity. Repeatedly besieged, captured, and re captured, practically all of the great na tions of history have held sway over the Holy City-the Israelites, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Assyr ians, Romans, Saracens, Crusaders, and Turks-and its surrender in the past has nearly always meant the destruction of its buildings and the wholesale slaughter of the population. BRITISH CAPTORS WITHHELD SHELLIRE FROM THE SACRED CITY The treatment which Jerusalem has re ceived at the hands of her British captors stands out in strong contrast to her past history' of suffering. Realizing the importance of Jerusalem to the Christians, the Jews, and the Mo hammedans, General Allenby so planned his campaign that he captured the town without firing a single shell into the an cient walled city. However, the capture of Jerusalem is only an isolated incident in the great Palestine campaign. Operating in an in hospitable, hostile country, where npt only food, clothing, and munitions had to be transported from great distances, but even water carried many weary miles to her forces fighting amid oppressive desert heat, Great Britain and her colonies, prac tically unaided, crushed the Turkish Em pire. To do so she sent a million men to the Holy Land and Mesopotamia, transport ing them an average distance of about 3,000 miles through submarine-infested seas. And these campaigns were con ducted simultaneously with the major operations of her armies in Belgium and France and the activities of other hun dreds of thousands in Macedonia and East Africa! Early in 1915 the Turkish forces, aided by the Germans, were launched against the Suez Canal-the main artery of the British Empire, connecting Australia, New Zealand, and India with the mother country. In February, a small force of the enemy reached the canal and was driven back; but in order to protect this vital waterway it became necessary for the British to launch an offensive. This meant pushing forward over 150 miles of desert, which marked the begin ning of the long, weary months of fight ing on the Sinai Peninsula, known as the Desert campaign. America can little realize those awful days of suffering.