Adonis Diaries

“Capital is the first Jewish Colony”: Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934)

Posted on: November 15, 2014

Early Settlements and Investors in Palestine

Capital is the first Jewish colony” had said Edmond de Rothschild

Before WWI, France was the Only western power to totally and unequivocally support Jewish settlements in Palestine. France support was political, economical, educational and administrative.

During WWI, France realized that it relied heavily on the Arab/Moslem troops in its colonies in North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) for its war efforts and stopped this direct support for new colonies: It reverted to England to directly resume the colonization of Palestine and agreed on England mandate over Palestine.

After WWII, France was again the main supporter of the new Israeli State and delivered the most sophisticated weapons and even built the first nuclear power plant in Israel and helped in producing an atomic bomb in the 60’s.

Since 1860, the main Jewish leaders were French and freshly naturalized French. The government instituted Universal Israelite Alliance to construct schools for the Jews in northern Africa where French was the main language.

In 1870, France extended the citizenship to the Jews living in north Africa and denied it to the Moslem “Arabs”

Ä. Silberstein, born in Palestine, wrote in 1930: France had morally conquered the Jews in the Orient (meaning in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq…). Whatever issue was related to France’s dignity and interests was made their own…

Mikveh-Israel was the first settlement on a land offered by the Turkish Sultan south of Jaffa (Yafa) in 1869. It was a very fertile piece of land with a small river running through close to the town of Yazour, now called Jason.

Charles Netter travelled to Istanbul to negotiate the settlement of a land in Palestine carrying over 100,000 francs that was supplied by the French banker Salomon Goldschmidt (president of UIA)

Netter was mainly targeting the Oriental Jews  in order to get them out of misery and put them to work on agricultural lands and learning practical artisanal skills. That was a pragmatic move since the Jews in the Orient had the same customs and traditions as the communities in the Land.

Actually, Netter was wondering why the Reformist Jews (mostly French at the time) were opting for the Oriental Jews to immigrate to America.

Netter was harsh on the ultra-orthodox clergy who collected the halucca, monetary retribution, from the pious Jews in order to pray on their behalf at the Wall in Jerusalem.

The triangle of Albert Cohen-Netter-Erlanger was the cornerstone that changed Edmond de Rothschild direction and purpose toward investing in Palestine and creating new colonies for the Jews.

Another catalyst to Edmond zeal was the Grand rabbi of Paris Zadoc Kahn (1839-1905). Zadoc delivered a speech in 1882 in the presence of Edmond that said:

“Desire goes much further than reality can deliver and sustain. Our sensibility, constantly taxed by excitation, has become maladive (sick).  We keep analysing with a manic curiosity, and the thought is constantly reverting in vicious circles. The deeper we dig and the more we catch the void.

“Life becomes the goal. denuded from all its colors and grandeur.

We badly need moral vigor, a serene confidence that we can match the evil forces.

Faith is defined by our actions and activities: An hour of purposeful activity is worth a lifetime of idle faith.

Regulating resting breaks is mainly meant to reinvigorate our willpower and avoid exhausting our mental energy.  Break periods should be enjoyed undertaking speculative work such as reading, daydreaming of useful projects  and not doing any kinds of activities…

Any study that is not part and parcel of active work is sterile”

Edmond de Rothschild began investing in Palestine at the age of 37, in 1882.

In the next 17 years, it seems that he spent $100 million in purchasing lands (gueoulah), building factories, schools and hospitals and disseminating Jewish settlements to produce what he needed.

The initial purchased lands were owned by wealthy Lebanese like the Sursock (banking) and many other feudal lords who became leaders in Lebanon political system due to the money they got from selling their lands in Palestine

For example, the colonies in the north of Yessod ha-maala and Mishmar ha-yarden were to plant jasmine for Edmonds perfume factory in Grasse.

In 1882, over 100 Jews from Warsaw (Poland) were shipped to the first colony of Mikveh-Israel (Hope of Israel).

The colony of Rishon Zion (First in Zion) and south of Mikveh-Israel was the first colony that Edmond financed totally.

The settlement of Zikhon-Jacob in Samaria was invaded by 200 Jews shipped from Galatz in Rumania. These immigrants were well off and earned good money and they revolted when they realized they were shipped to Palestine. They demanded to be sent back home.

Many immigrants died of Diphtheria and other illnesses.

Most immigrants were initially Sephardi (from Yemen, Iran, Syria, Morocco, the indigenous Jews and French Jews flocking from Istanbul and Turkey and called Francos).

After the pogroms committed by Russia in Poland since 1905, The Ashkenazi Jews of Poland and Germany started to outnumber the Sephardi and their Grand Rabbi replaced the Sephardi Rabbi.

Edmond was also interested in colonizing Asiatic Turkey since 1891.

Edmond appointed Elie Scheid in 1884 to head the Jewish colonies.

He first encountered Herzl in 1896 and Weizmann in 1913.

The Jewish Colonial Bank was founded in 1898.

The American Jewish Society was founded in 1906.

In the 1910’s, Edmond sold his shares in the oil fields in Baku (Azerbaijan) and reinvested this money in Palestine:  The Bolsheviks in Baku, lead by Stalin, had made investment in Baku a daily problem. At the turn of the 20th century, Baku produced 50% of the world oil.

The PICA was founded in 1924 and Edmond placed Henri Frank to be the director for a strategic expansion of the settlements.

Edmond visited Palestine 5 times: in 1887 (3 weeks), in 1893 (5 days), in 1899, in 1914 (2 weeks), and in 1925 (10 days).

During the Great Depression of 1928, no funds came to the colonies and the development of Tel Aviv was halted.  The project of establishing an Israeli state became dubious.

The Zionists reacted by committing massacres in Jerusalem in 1930 and Edmond fell prey to this machination of instilling religious enmities. He wrote a letter to France rabbi Israel Levi stating:

Our interest is to separate the religious question from politics, to separate the mandate questions from our Israelite Home” (This suggestion has made a full circle: It is the Jews refusing to separate religion from politics and the Palestinians demanding a State of civil rights)

The British mandated power refused any democratic elections, even for municipalities in Palestine under the pretence that it is not fair for the Jewish minority. The Palestinians started their first civil disobedience (Intifada) in 1936 and lasted 4 years.

The British had to dispatch 100,000 troops to quell the insurrection and committed all kinds of massacre and invented all kinds of torture that Israel has adopted in their integrity, even the administrative detention law.

David Ben Gurion, in his preface to the book of Kressel, pointed out that, if you joined by lines all the colonies already established by Edmond, you discover that the locations were not done haphazardly.

The colonies exhibited the boundaries to the planned partition of Palestine.

Actually, when the UN partitioned Palestine in 1947, it gave the Jewish minority (40% of the population) 57% of the land, such as any Jewish colony could enclose the neighboring Palestinian towns and villages so that the Jewish State included all the established settlements.

In 1917, Britain foreign minister, Lord Balfour, addressed his letter for the establishment of a Jewish homeland to Lord Walter, the son of Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild who became the first Jew to enter the Chamber of Lords.

In 1918, the French foreign minister S. Pichon ratified Balfour letter, and President Wilson followed suit on August 1918 in a letter to S.Wise.

Consequently, the western nations had already set their mind to partition Palestine before WWI ended.

The remains of Edmond were transferred from Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris to the hill of Ramat Hamadiv, close to Haifa in 1954.

Note: France had a mandated power over Syria and Lebanon. The French strategy was to divide these two countries into cantons of minorities.

The Syrian people kept a steady rebellion against the French presence and France bombed Damascus to the ground in 1923-24.

France ceded a big chunk of the most fertile and strategic lands in northern Syria to Turkey of Ataturk in 1936.

Since then, all the French institutions made it a policy to grab any opportunity to humiliate and weaken Syria.

Talk of Zionist lobby in the USA? All the French institutions are Zionists regardless of political lines.

Up until 1968, most Israeli weapons were French. De Gaulle, one of the staunchest Zionist, stopped delivering Mirage fighter jets after the Israeli pre-emptive 1967 war.

Currently, it is France that is building the Israeli nuclear submarines, financed by Germany. Israel has obtained already 6 of the most modern submarines.

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