June 12, 2013

A Portuguese Palestine: the attempt to build Zion in Angola

Angolans themselves were well aware of plans to populate their colony with Jews. The coastal capital of Benguela, with its grand Portuguese architecture and eucalyptus-lined boulevards, was home to an elite who welcomed the prospect of Jews thronging to the province. A series of articles penned by Angola’s foremost writer of the day, native-son Augosto Bastos (1872-1936), ran in the weekly Jornal de Benguela for more than a year. He reassured readers that Jewish colonists would not threaten Portuguese sovereignty because they would not have ‘cannons or an army behind them’. Later he urged Portuguese lawmakers to alter the terms of the colonisation bill so that it would be more attractive to the Jews. Bastos hailed the impending arrival of Gregory and Martin, believing that they ‘would soon be convinced’ that there was no place better than the Benguela Plateau to establish a home for ‘the persecuted [Jews] in Russia’.

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