Dunant, Jean Henri°

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DUNANT, JEAN HENRI ° (1828–1910), Swiss Protestant philanthropist. Dunant was the founder of the Geneva Convention and the International Red Cross. Among his humanitarian causes was the settlement of Jews in Ereẓ Israel, which he regarded as essential for reviving the Middle East. During the early 1860s he tried to arouse the interest of Napoleon iii and leaders of West European Jewry in his Jewish settlement plan. He established an association for the colonization of Palestine, and in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle of December 13, 1867, described its basic principles: the acquisition of land by the association; the building of a Jerusalem-Jaffa railroad; and the development of agriculture "aided by the cooperation of Israelites." He traveled throughout Europe in an attempt to interest such personalities as Adolphe Crémieux and Moses Montefiore. Dunant was unsuccessful in his efforts, and his contention was that the indifference of the Jews was to blame. Herzl, in his closing speech at the First Zionist Congress (1897), referred to Dunant as a Christian Zionist.


Die Welt, 1:22 (1897), 6f.; N. Sokolow, History of Zionism, 2 (1919), 259–61, 265–7; A. François, Aspects d'Henri Dunant: le bonapartiste, l'affairiste, le sioniste (1948).

[Getzel Kressel]