Swimming to Palestine

Syrian boys, whose family fled their home in Idlib, walk to their tent, at a camp for displaced Syrians, in the village of Atmeh, Syria, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Rummaging through a wonderful cardboard box full of family memorabilia, I came across a series of letters my grandmother wrote in researching for her brother David Diamond‘s biography, which she never wrote.  I would love to reconstruct what she might have written.  I have a box full of material related to Uncle David and my grandmother.

My book contains a chapter about visiting the Holocaust Museum in Houston and reflecting on my Jewish heritage, such as it is.  I am incorporating the following quote, from a letter written to my grandmother by her cousin Ernestine.  It is especially poignant given the current crisis of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, many of whom have fled war by boat.

Richard and Siegfried died in 1959 in Jerusalem. After Hitler came to Austria, both went to then Palestine illegally with the last illegal liner going there. They could not land and were forced to go back to Cyprus where they and the others were detained for a time. They tried several times in vain to land in Palestine again-until they and the others on the liner who could swim, succeeded in entering Palestine illegally. Richard was cought [sic] by the military and imprisoned (then under English rules), Siegfried was not.