Israel Belkind

Israel Belkind

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Israel Belkind was a Jewish educator, author, writer, historian and founder of the Bilu movement
Bilu was a movement whose goal was the agricultural settlement of the Land of Israel. "Bilu" is an acronym based on a verse from the Book of Isaiah "בית יעקב לכו ונלכה" Beit Ya'akov Lekhu Venelkha...

. A pioneer of the First Aliyah
First Aliyah
The First Aliyah was the first modern widespread wave of Zionist aliyah. Jews who migrated to Palestine in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe and from Yemen. This wave of aliyah began in 1881–82 and lasted until 1903. An estimated 25,000–35,000 Jews immigrated to Ottoman Syria during the...

, Belkind founded the Biluim, a group of Jewish idealists aspiring to settle
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

 in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

 with the political purpose to redeem Eretz Yisrael and re-establish the Jewish State
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

 on it.


Belkind was born in the region surrounding Minsk
- Ecological situation :The ecological situation is monitored by Republican Center of Radioactive and Environmental Control .During 2003–2008 the overall weight of contaminants increased from 186,000 to 247,400 tons. The change of gas as industrial fuel to mazut for financial reasons has worsened...

 in Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, then part of the Russian empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. He received a Hebrew education from his father, who was a leader in the movement which promoted Hebrew education in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Belkind also attended a Russian gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 and initially intended to attend university. However, the wave of anti-semitic attacks and pogroms against Jews
Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire
The term pogrom as a reference to large-scale, targeted, and repeated antisemitic rioting saw its first use in the 19th century.The first pogrom is often considered to be the 1821 Odessa pogroms after the death of the Greek Orthodox patriarch Gregory V in Constantinople, in which 14 Jews were killed...

 in southern Russia on 1881 instead led him to become intensively involved in Zionist activities.

Belkind organized the first organized group of Biluim on 21 January 1882, with the aim of promoting settlement in Ottoman Palestine. To this end, he invited a group of fourteen Jewish ex-university students from Kharkov to his home and together they formed the group which was originally called DAVIO, an acronym for the Hebrew words from Exodus, "Speak unto the children of Israel that they will go forward". Belkind later changed the name to BILU, an acronym for the words from Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 (2:5), "Beit Yaakov Lechu V'nelcha," ("House of Jacob, come and we will go"). The group shunned diplomatic or political channels, with their sole goal being to settle in Palestine.
These first group of Bilu pioneers arrived at Palestine in July, 1882. He worked first in Mikveh Yisrael and Rishon LeTzion, and then moved to Gedera
-External links:** *...

, the first official Bilu community. Belkind, however, was unable to adjust to agricultural labor, and therefore, devoted himself to education. His first teaching post was at a private school in Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

, and he then moved to Jerusalem where he taught at the Alliance Israelite Universelle
Alliance Israélite Universelle
The Alliance Israélite Universelle is a Paris-based international Jewish organization founded in 1860 by the French statesman Adolphe Crémieux to safeguard the human rights of Jews around the world...

. In 1904, Israel Belkind established an educational institute in the village of Meir Shfeya
Meir Shfeya
Meir Shfeya is a youth village and agricultural boarding school in northern Israel. Located near Zikhron Ya'akov, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hof HaCarmel Regional Council. In 2006 it had a student population of 300.-History:...

, which took in orphans from the Kishinev pogrom
Kishinev pogrom
The Kishinev pogrom was an anti-Jewish riot that took place in Chişinău, then the capital of the Bessarabia province of the Russian Empire on April 6-7, 1903.-First pogrom:...

. This made it the first youth village in the country. He called it Kiryat Sefer. However, after two years of dispute with the Edmond James de Rothschild
Edmond James de Rothschild
Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild was a French member of the Rothschild banking family. A strong supporter of Zionism, his generous donations lent significant support to the movement during its early years, which helped lead to the establishment of the State of Israel.- Early years :A...

's emissaries at the colony, Belkind was prompted to move the children to Ben Shemen
Ben Shemen
Ben Shemen is a moshav in central Israel. Located around four kilometres east of Lod, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hevel Modi'in Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 627....

. Belkind was the key leader in the Yishuv's protest movement against representatives of Baron Rothschild.

After 1906, Belkind spent the remainder of his life wandering around Palestine and foreign countries. He published several textbooks while teaching, and continued to work as a writer. He also contributed many articles to contemporary journals and wrote popular articles on history. He was an editor of HaMeir, a monthly publication on settlement and the Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

. Israel Belkind eventually published his memoirs, "The First Steps of the Jewish Settlement in Palestine" (1918) in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


In 1928 he published a geographical work in Russian, The Land of Israel Today, as well as an anthropological work on the Palestinian Arabs in Hebrew, Arabs in Eretz Israel, a book in which he advances the ideas that the Palestinians are descended from the ancient Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 and that the dispersion of Jews
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

 after the destruction of the Temple by the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 emperor Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 is a "historic error" that must be corrected, for it dispersed much of the land's Jewish community around the world, while those "workers of the land that remained attached to their land" were eventually converted to Christianity and then Islam. He therefore, argued that this historical wrong must be corrected by embracing the Palestinians as their own and proposed the opening of Hebrew schools for Palestinian Arab Muslims
Arab Muslims
Arab Muslims are adherents of the religion of Islam who identify linguistically, culturally, or genealogically as Arabs. They greatly outnumber other ethnic groups in the Middle East. Muslims who are not Arabs are called mawali by Arab Muslims....

 to teach them Arabic, Hebrew and universal culture. Belkind died in 1929 in Berlin where he had gone to seek medical treatment and his body was transferred to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1930 to be interred in a cemetery in Rishon LeTzion.

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