Alternative History


The State of Sion, in the Australian Confederacy, goes back to the movement, founded by British author and activist Israel Zangwill, with the formal name of "The Jewish Territorial Organization" in 1905. Zangwill believed it would not be possible to obtain a national home for the Jews in the historical land of Israel ("Palestine"), and so he sought to establish national homes elsewhere. Initially, there were no practical results to this program aside from settling a few thousand Jews in Galveston, Texas (U.S.A.) and Colonia de Zangwill in Argentina. In the aftermath of the First World War, with the British commitment to establishing Arab successor states in the former Ottoman domain, Chaim Weizman and other Zionist found their further settlement blocked in the Holy Land. The formerly dismissed Uganda Plan and other territorial schemes under the protection of the British Empire were dusted off for new consideration. Balfour and Lloyd George were amenable, and the colonization scheme that led to the State of Sion was born.

Circa 1946, Sion High Commissioner is Sir Julius Marks, OBE. Plan your trip now! Disembark from your dirigible at the Rothschild Tower's zeppelin mast.

Herzltown, and environs, from the 1946 Fyodor's Guide to the Australian Confederacy

Metropolitan Herzltown, named for the late territorial-Sionist leader, is the capital and heartland of the western Australian state of Sion. It adds a cosmopolitan flavor to the pioneer atmosphere that is unlike any other part of the island continent. Municipal signage is to be seen in the obligatory English, as well as German and the Hebrew alphabet used by both the Hebraist revival and the judeo-germanic jargon of "Yiddish" spoken by most of the eastern European immigrants. Business signage, outside the administrative center, is often in one of a dozen or so tongues of the Jewish Diaspora.

The city itself is divided into four boroughs of varying character:

Old-Stadt, which encompasses the old pre-Sionist settlement of Perth, now full of older colonial structures pressed into service as tenements and warehouse/factory space, also includes the modern Port of Herzltown (formerly the port of Fremantle) designed by the young engineer Yaacov Ben-Sirah. Old-Stadt is the home of the Hasidic Oystralianer Rebbe and his followers;

Herzl Neustadt, where the ruling elite and most of the British and Anglo-Australians reside, is the home of the Union Synagogue (Reformed), Sholem Aleichem Yiddish School and Orde Wingate Territorial Corps Training Academy as well as the Sion University and Warburg Hospital campuses and YIVO Institute;

Zangwill, on the far side of Israel Zangwill Park and the Max Nordau Stadium, is the business and administrative center (dominated by the lofty Rothschild Tower Building with its dirigible mast), site of the headquarters of the Jewish Territorial Organization (J.T.O.), the Trades Union Centre and ORT Schools, and the middle-class residential borough;

and Kfar Trumpeldor, once a collectivist agricultural farming community that rapidly diversified and was annexed by the expanding city, which includes the Weizmann aerodrome, experimental farms, and the Hebraist artist's colony called Kiryat Spinozah.

Herzltown is served by a complex matrix of municipal trolley lines and cooperatively-owned autobuses (Binyamin Tudela Autobus, etc.), private pedi-cabs, and rental bicycle operations. A public telephone and telegraph exchange is operated under the auspices of the Royal Australian Confederate Mail. There is a state-owned and operated radio station, Radio-Ehod, that transmits from the Rothschild Tower Building. Radio-Ehod welcomes visitors to its daily broadcast of news, entertainment, and educational programmes.

There are a plethora of daily and weekly newspapers in several languages (English, Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Ladino, etc.) and with diverse political and religious affiliations or points of view (Conservative-Territorial, Zion-Zionist, Socialist, Liberal Religious, Pioneer Orthodox, Anarchist, etc.). The newspaper of record is the state-owned Daily Pioneer.

How to Get There

British Overseas Air Service, makes weekly trips via Hong Kong, Singapore and Ceylon en route to Sydney and Melbourne. Weizmann Aerodrome.

Aero Indochina, AIC dirigible service makes weekly trips from Hong Kong via Haiphong and Saigon and Pnom Penh en route to Sydney and Melbourne. Weizmann Aerodrome.

TransWorld Air Line, TWA Pacific Clipper makes weekly trips via Hawaii, Wellington and Melbourne.Weizmann Aerodrome.

Sion Air Service, cooperatively owned, makes weekly trips by dirigible and Ford Tri-motor to Alice Springs, Sydney and Melbourne. Weizmann Aerodrome.

Port of Herzltown, served by the P & O and many other marine carriers.

Where to Stay

Hotel Israelite, French-managed and owned by Credit Lyonnais, Herzl Neustadt - near the Zangwill Gate. A favorite of the cosmopolitan traveler. ***** Tele: 3-530.

Hotel Zangwill, managed and owned by M. Etienne Shrdlu, Herzl Neustadt - near the Zangwill Gate. Beautiful and recently renovated with all the most modern services. The Zangwill was visited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on his 1922 spiritualist tour, and where he was hosted by a party of notables including Sholom Aleichem and I. L. Peretz. **** Tele: 3-533.

Hotel Anglander, managed and owned by Herr Moritz Shahet, Zangwill - Park-Vue Boulevard. *** Tele: 3-478.

Hotel Kfar Bunyip, run by the Kfar Bunyip Hostel Cooperative, Kfar Trumpeldor - Buchmanplatz. *** Tele: 3-623.

Hotel Criterion, run by the Kfar Bunyip Hostel Cooperative, Old-Stadt - Gallipoli-place. ** Tele: 3-323.

Resort Bunyip-Spinozah, run by the Kfar Bunyip Hostel Cooperative, Kfar Trumpeldor - Resort-road, Kiryat Spinozah. **** Tele: 3-888.

Sailors & Travellers Hostel, run by the Kfar Bunyip Hostel Cooperative, Old Stadt - Brot-street. ** Tele: 3-390.

Where to Dine

Adolphe Meyer, Continental & Alsatian specialties. Deluxe table service, as well as a retail bakeshop catering service. Full bar & wine cellar. Early Friday closing & shomer shabbas (Sabbath observed). Kosher. Herzl Neustadt - near the Zangwill Gate. Tele: 3-545. ****

Won Wei, Cantonese & Shanghai Chinese cuisine. Table service. Old-Stadt - Brodny-street. Tele: 3-337. ****

Cafe Lebowitz, Viennese & Bohemian snacks & pastries. Table & counter service. Early Friday closing & shomer shabbas (Sabbath observed). Kosher. Zangwill Park. Tele: 3-665. ****

Bernie's Fish, English-style fish-and-chips. Counter service. Early Friday closing & shomer shabbas (Sabbath observed). Kosher. Herzl Neustadt - Montague-street. Tele: 3-549. ***

Teacher's, English & Australian cuisine. Deluxe table service, public bar. Zangwill - Bathurst-street. Tele: 3-445. ***

There are many other small local cafes and tuck-shops scattered throughout the city.

Culture & Entertainment

Consult the daily listings in the Pioneer and other newspapers for details of current events. JTO House Museum, art gallery, history of the Zionist Movements, &special exhibits, Zangwill

Alliance Israelite Universalle (AIU) House & Gallery, travelling art exhibits -- also excellent French kosher restaurant on premises, Bialik-street, Herzl Neustadt - near the Zangwill Gate.

Municipal Opera House, travelling companies, WA Gilbert & Sullivan Society productions, Hebrew Arts Repertory, Yiddish Theater Union, Pioneer New Theater (avant garde & socialist theater troupe), Herzl Neustadt, Peretz-street near the Zangwill Gate.

Rialto-Kinema, modern cinema palace showing programs in English, French, German, Yiddish, Russian, Herzl Neustadt.

Katacombs, nightclub owned by Asher Gorman, song & dance, Old Stadt.

Club Galut, social club for Zion Zionists, Old Stadt.

Mendele Mokher Sefarim House, home of the secular Yiddishist social club, library, cinema hall (also used for performances by the Yidisher Gilbert-und-Sulivan Farayn and the Bund Players, a fine cafeteria. Old Stadt. Barracks-street.

Zangwill Park

Israel Zangwill Park, named for the Anglo-Jewish author and activist, is located at the opposite end of the tree-lined concourse of the Churchill Prospect from the Sion University and Rothschild Hospital campuses, at the point where the boroughs of Herzl Neustadt, Zangwill & Kfar Trumpledor meet. Here is located:

  • The bronze relief of Israel Zangwill by Jacob Epstein at the Zangwill Gate to the park;
  • the Rothschild Arboretum & Zoological Park;
  • the Montefiore Public Baths & Swimming Pools;
  • the University Physick Garden (created after the model of the one in Chelsea);
  • Cafe Lebowitz (a cafe in the Viennese mode) and its lovely terrace garden view;
  • the Sinai and Gallipoli memorials to the fallen during the Great War;
  • the Epstein bronze of Theodor Herzl at the Founders Rose Garden;
  • sports fields devoted to football and rugby, cricket, American baseball, track & field;

and tennis and basketball courts. These, like the Nordau Stadium, are under the administration of the Maccabi Sports Association.

A Stroll Through Zangwill Park

Let us imagine another fine day in Herzltown. We have risen early, breakfasted lightly on coffee and toasted challah spread with yogurt and cheese curds. Our party assembles and we take pedi-cabs, under the power of a young agricultural students from the University, over to Adolphe Meyer's where we have booked a picnic basket. Now, we catch the Churchill Prospect trolley line to the University, then onwards to the Park.

There, we disembark at the Zangwill Gate, and admire the sculptor Epstein's masterful relief portrait of the Park's namesake. We have brought a copy of one of Zangwill's mysteries with us, and begin again the eternal debate of his literary merits versus that of Conan Doyle.

Then its on to the Scenic Walkway through the Arboretum and past the zoo until we come to the Gallipoli memorial and the reflecting pool. Under a tree nearby, we set out our picnic luncheon, and while away the hours in talk and nibbling while watching the passing show. One companion has recently been to see a new American movie at the Rialto-Kinema (a theatre in the American Art Deco manner which shows both American and British films), a Danny Kaye, and acts out the plot to great applause. Another sketches a figure in repose, while two more kick a ball to each other.

We hear music, and follow it to the bandstand on the other north side of the memorial. There a pick-up ensemble weaves from folk songs of the pioneers to Mendelsohn to klezmer and Yiddish theatre tunes to the latest in American bebop. A young man in Territorial uniform dances with a girl (probably from an outlaying kibbutz or cooperative farm colony) who wears a Pioneer Youth scarf. An elderly Orthodox couple passes by, bemusement on their faces, in their long-sleeved dark clothes more appropriate to the eastern European ghettos they escaped from than the sun-light in Zangwill Park. Perhaps they escaped, one step ahead of the Black Hundreds or the hackenkreuz pogroms. It doesn't matter, they are safe here.

Our friend Aryeh Bar-Kahan, a captain in the Territorials, and his fiance Chava, an artist/engraver, want to go see the new Chagall windows at Cafe Lebowitz. We gather up our detritus and such of our other companions as are in sight and set off for the cafe with visions of coffee and streudl dancing in our heads.''

Pioneer Jews in the Australia outback. Documented in "Tale of the Kangaroo Klezmer" on Oystralia, CD by Klezmania [1]

Listen to "Oystralia"[2]

Herzltown & environs [3]

Funny animal version of Sion; "Stinger" Ben-Canine meets our travelers, Bernie Wister and his man Cheebles, at the Sion metropolitan airfield [4]