Gawler, George°

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GAWLER, GEORGE ° (1796–1869), English Christian who propagated the idea of Jewish settlement of Ereẓ Israel. Gawler took part in the Battle of Waterloo as a senior commander and was the first governor of the newly established colony of South Australia (1838–41). On his return to England he took up the cause of the agricultural settlement of Ereẓ Israel by Jews and persisted in the propagation of this idea until the end of his life. He sought to provide a solution both to the permanent unrest in the Middle East and to the Jewish problem in Europe and proposed that his plan should be executed by the British. He first introduced his ideas in a pamphlet entitled Tranquilization of Syria and the East: Observations and Practical Suggestions in Furtherance of the Establishment of Jewish Colonies in Palestine … the Most Sober and Sensible Remedy for the Miseries of Asiatic Turkey (London, 1845), and followed this up with a series of pamphlets in which he discussed other plans, including Emanicipation of the Jews Indispensable for the Maintenance of the Protestant Profession of the Empire; and Most Entitled to the Support of the British Nation (1847). His experience in Australia led him to believe that it was possible to settle an uninhabited land within a few years. He accompanied Sir Moses *Montefiore on the latter's third trip to Ereẓ Israel (1849) and seems to have been the one who persuaded Montefiore to initiate agricultural settlement in the country, in spite of the opposition of large sections of the Jewish population to the idea. Over the course of the years, Gawler contributed numerous articles to the Jewish press in Britain (Voice of Jacob, Jewish Chronicle); in one of these articles he stated: "I should be truly rejoiced to see in Palestine a strong guard of Jews established in flourishing agricultural settlements and ready to hold their own upon the mountains of Israel against all aggressors, I can wish for nothing more glorious in this life than to have my share in helping them do so" (jc, Aug. 10, 1860). The only result of his plans was Montefiore's acquisition of an orange grove near Jaffa on his fourth trip to the Holy Land (1855), where Jewish workers were employed (now known as the Montefiore Quarter in Tel Aviv).

His son, john cox gawler, took up his father's cause and in 1874 published a detailed plan for the settlement of Ereẓ Israel by Jews on businesslike and technological principles. He also sought to gain Montefiore's interest in the plan. The plan aroused great interest in Jerusalem, and a Hebrew translation of it by I.D. *Frumkin was published in Ḥavaẓẓelet. By publishing the plan, Frumkin encouraged certain groups of the old yishuv to put the plan into practice, and, as a result, four years later *Petaḥ Tikvah was founded.


M. Montefiore, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 2 (1890), 15; N. Sokolow, History of Zionism, 2 vols. (1919), index; G. Kressel (ed.), Mivḥar Kitvei I.D. Frumkin (1954), index; G. Yardeni, Ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit be-Ereẓ-Yisrael (1969), index. add. bibliography: Australian Dictionary of Biography; odnb online; H.L. Rubinstein and W. D Rubinstein, Philosemitism, 152–54.

[Getzel Kressel]