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Ben-Avi, Ithamar


BEN-AVI, ITHAMAR (1882–1943), Hebrew journalist and Zionist. He was the son of Eliezer *Ben-Yehuda, from the initials of whose name Ben-Avi formed his Hebrew name. Ben-Avi was one of the first modern Jews whose mother tongue was Hebrew. In his early youth he began publishing in Hebrew periodicals edited by his father. He studied at the Teachers' Seminary of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris and at the Institute for Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin. On his return to Ereẓ Israel in 1908, he joined the editorial board of Ben-Yehuda's Ha-Ẓevi and Ha-Or, bringing to them something of the flamboyant spirit of popular European and American journalism. During World War i he lived with his family in the U.S.A. Returning after the war he founded the daily *Do'ar ha-Yom in Jerusalem in 1919 and continued to edit it until 1929. He also served as the Jerusalem correspondent for the London Times and Daily Mail and several French newspapers. An accomplished speaker in several languages, Ben-Avi visited various countries on behalf of the Jewish National Fund and the settlement projects of the native generation of moshavot farmers, of whose organization, *Benei Binyamin, he was a co-founder. In 1939 he went to the U.S.A., where he later died. His remains were interred in Jerusalem in 1947. Impetuous by nature, Ben-Avi advocated bold innovations, such as the writing of Hebrew in Latin characters, in which he published the weekly Dror (1933–4) and a biography of his father (Avi, 1927). In the 1930s he campaigned for the partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab cantons. His political and cultural aim was the transformation of the Jewish people into an independent "western" nation.


Ḥ. Ben-Yehuda, Nosei ha-Degel (1944), includes bibliography.

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]

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