2: Etching, “Christopher Columbus Discovers the Island of Hispaniola” (El Almirante Christoval Colon Descubre la Isla Española, ij haze poner una Cruz, etc.) by Pieter Balthazar Bouttats, 1728.
The first stanza of Goldberg’s poem compares Tel Aviv’s rooftops with “the masts on Columbus’ ships.” Through this simile, Goldberg draws a powerful relation between Jewish immigration to Palestine and the European discovery of the Americas. While she challenges the idea of a monolingual and monolithic national culture, rather highlighting Tel Aviv’s plurality of languages and cultures, Goldberg’s simile also opens itself to a consideration of how the inhabitants of Mandatory Palestine may have perceived and experienced the arrival of these new immigrants.
Suggested activities: Ask students to consider this simile in light of the current legacy of Christopher Columbus and ongoing debates on immigration. Examine Pieter Balthazar Bouttats’ etching, paying close attention to the reaction of the island’s inhabitants. Ask the students to describe the different receptions to the arrival of the European explorers. Then turn to Goldberg’s poem and reread the first two stanzas. Have students discuss the challenges that immigration presents for those who arrive to a new place and for those who are already living there. What kind of portrayal (e.g., positive, negative, ambivalent) of Jewish immigration does the poem offer? Ask students to cite specific language and imagery from the poem in their answers.
Source: Pieter Balthazar Bouttats, Christopher Columbus Discovers the Island of Hispaniola (El almirante Christoval Colon descubre la Isla Españ̃ola, ij haze poner una Cruz, etc.) 1728. Etching. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2006683686