Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mona Karff -- Update

Source: Davar, 27/5/1938, p. 4

We have previously posted that Mona May Karff had been the first Palestinian World Chess Champion. Originally we noted that there was no notice of her achievements in the Jewish press, perhaps because she saw Palestine as a "stepping stone" to the USA and never was a "real" zionist.

It turns out this is not quite true: as noted above, when she won the USA women's championship (9.5/10!) this was noted in the Jewish press, which notes her play was praised, and her photo given, 'in all the American papers' (presumably, this last claim was not intended literally).

What is interesting is that the Palestinian part of her career and life is emphasized and all else is not. Her success in the 'Stockholm Olympiad' (actually the women's world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad) is mentioned, presumably because she represented Palestine (that time the Palestinian team did not participate), and spends considerable space on the Palestinian part of her biography.

For example, her birthplace (Bessarabia) isn't mentioned, but only that 'She emigrated to Palestine with her parents when very young'. It is also mention that 'after learning Hebrew [she] joined the Kfar Giladi kibbutz.' She is also describe in the first sentence of the article as being 'from Tel Aviv', and only in the very last as now being 'a resident of Boston'.

It is not wise to hang too much on the wording of a newspaper paragraph, but it is typical, in our view, of the explicitly zionist bent of the newspaper reporting in Palestine at the time, in particular Marmorosh's column.

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