Hankin, Yehoshua

views updated


HANKIN, YEHOSHUA (1864–1945), Ereẓ Israel pioneer, instrumental in acquiring large tracts of land for Jewish settlement. Born in Kremenchug, Ukraine, Hankin went to Ereẓ Israel in 1882 with his father, who was one of the founders of Rishon le-Zion. In 1887 the family moved to Gederah where he established friendly relations with the Arab felaḥeen and landowners, which helped him in negotiating for the purchase of land for the expansion of Jewish settlement. His first purchase, in 1890, was of the lands on which Rehovot was established, and a year later he bought the land on which Haderah was founded; he also purchased the lands on which the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) settlements in the Galilee and elsewhere were set up. In 1908, when the Zionist Organization began to engage in practical work in Ereẓ Israel and established the Palestine Land Development Corporation (for the purchase and cultivation of land for the *Jewish National Fund and private purchasers), Hankin joined this company. As early as 1897 he had negotiated for the purchase of the Jezreel Valley lands, but the first sale there was delayed until 1909, when Hankin at last succeeded in buying the lands of Kafr Fūla (10,000 dunams), on which Merhavyah, the first Jewish settlement in the valley, was established. In 1915 he was exiled to Anatolia, Turkey, by the Turkish authorities, returning to Palestine three years later. In 1920 he purchased a large tract of land (51,000 dunams) in the Jezreel Valley, on which many agricultural settlements were later established (En-Harod, Tel Yosef, Nahalal, and others), and as a result he became known as "The Redeemer of the Valley." Seven years later he submitted to the Zionist leadership a daring 20-year plan for the acquisition of Palestinian lands; from 1932 he served as director of the Palestine Land Development Corporation. Hankin wrote Jewish Colonization in Palestine (1940, ed. and tr. by E. Koenig). He died in Tel Aviv and was buried on Mt. Gilboa opposite the land he redeemed in the Jezreel Valley, near the Harod spring. During his lifetime, he purchased more than 600,000 dunams of land, most of which passed into the possession of the Jewish National Fund. The moshav Kefar Yehoshu'a in the Jezreel Valley is named after him.


Y. Ya'ari-Poleskin, Yehoshu'a Hankin ha-Ish u-Mifalo (1933); M. Smilansky, Mishpaḥat ha-Adamah, 3 (1951), 207–81; Tidhar, 2 (1947), 752–5; M. Sharett, Orot she-Kavu (1969), 102–8; A. Ashbel (ed.), Shishim Shenot Hakhsharat ha-Yishuv (1970).

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]