Dreaming of Tirana
What if the Jewish homeland had been in Albania?
In what can hardly be called a “news” item, yesterday’s Haaretz brought word of a little-known effort, spearheaded by a British journalist, to create a Jewish national home in … Albania. The journalist, Leo Elton, visited the southern European country in 1935 and found its land fertile and its native population free of anti-Semitism. (In a sense, history bore this impression out, as a new book on Albanians who shielded Jews during the Holocaust shows.) Elton seems to have had only the noblest of intentions, but we can’t help but wonder, in thinking about his plan and others like it (in Madagascar, Uganda, Siberia, and Alaska): why did these “Zionists” seem to want the Jews to end up so far away?