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Ha-Levanon

HA-LEVANON

HA-LEVANON (Heb. הַלְּבָנוֹן, "Lebanon"), the first Hebrew newspaper in Ereẓ Israel. Ha-Levanon, edited by Jehiel *Brill, Joel Moses *Salomon, and Michael Cohen, first appeared in Jerusalem in March 1863. The paper was established as the organ of the *halukkah trustees at a time of strife within the Jerusalem Ashkenazi community.

Throughout the paper's career, Brill, the editor in chief and the paper's moving spirit, consistently held that Jews living in the old city of Jerusalem should found suburbs outside the city's walls in which to live. Further, the yishuv living on the ḥalukkah should turn to productive occupations, particularly farming. At the same time, however, Brill objected to Ḥovevei Zion's fervent advocacy of the settlement of Ereẓ Israel, claiming that the movement's plans were impracticable, fired as they were by imagination rather than by a thorough knowledge of conditions in the country. He did approve of feasible programs of settlement and throughout the years urged Ḥovevei Zion to adopt a realistic attitude. Among the settlement programs supported by Ha-Levanon were *Moza and Petaḥ Tikvah.

Contributors to the paper included journalists and scholars from abroad as well as from Jerusalem. Ha-Levanon engaged in a bitter controversy with the rival paper, Ḥavaẓẓelet, established in Jerusalem during the summer of 1863. As a result both papers closed down in 1864. After a year's interval, Brill revived Ha-Levanon in Paris, where it appeared as a biweekly until 1868 when it became a weekly. Although published in Europe, the paper appeared in Jerusalem on a monthly basis and continued to print much news of Ereẓ Israel, most of its articles, in fact, being devoted to yishuv affairs. The paper, especially in its literary supplement (Kevodha-Levanon), printed diverse studies on Judaism and belles lettres (mostly translations), with leading local and foreign writers as contributors. Trapped in the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and the Commune, Brill depicted the latter for Ha-Levanon, and eventually he left for Germany where he revived Ha-Levanon in Mainz (1872) as a supplement of the German Orthodox paper Israelit. Becoming the Hebrew organ of Orthodoxy, it provided the forum for a bitter controversy with the religious Reform movement of M.L. *Lilienblum, J.L. *Gordon, and others. Concurrently, Brill continued to support every constructive plan relating to the yishuv. The Russian pogroms of the early 1880s brought about an ideological reorientation in Ha-Levanon. Brill severed his connection with the Orthodox circles and became a zealous advocate of the settlement of Ereẓ Israel. He conducted propaganda campaigns in Russia, and was responsible for the immigration to Ereẓ Israel of Jewish farmers who later founded the village of Ekron. At the end of 1882 Ha-Levanon ceased publication. In 1884 Brill settled in London, where he revived Ha-Levanon in 1886, but the paper closed on Brill's death that same year. A pioneer of the modern press in Ereẓ Israel, Ha-Levanon provided during its 20 years of existence the first opportunity for Hebrew journalists in Ereẓ Israel.

bibliography:

G. Kressel, Ha-Levanon ve-ha-Ḥavaẓẓelet (1943); idem, Toledot ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit be-Ereẓ Yisrael (1964), 27–41: S.L. Zitron, in: Ha-Olam, 6 (1912), nos. 28, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 38; R. Malachi, in: Meyer Waxman Jubilee Volume (1967), 70–142; G. Yardeni, Ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit be-Ereẓ Yisrael ba-Shanim 18631904 (1969), 17–29; Z. Ravid, in: Hadoar, 42 (1963), 18–22.

[Getzel Kressel]

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