Navon, Joseph

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NAVON, JOSEPH (1858–1934), pioneer of Ereẓ Israel development. Navon was born into a prominent Sephardi family in *Jerusalem. His father, Eliahu Navon, was the Jewish representative in the Jerusalem regional council. Joseph was educated in France, and on his return became a merchant and banker. He and his uncle Ḥayyim *Amzalak helped the settlers in Petaḥ Tikvah and Rishon le-Zion enter their lands in the land registry. With his banking partner Frontiger he pioneered in popular housing schemes in Jerusalem (including the Beit Yosef and Battei Navon quarters). He had ambitious schemes for the development of Ereẓ Israel, including railway development, the building of a port in *Jaffa, and providing irrigation facilities for the citrus groves of the coastal plain. After lengthy negotiations in Constantinople, he received a concession in 1888 to construct a railway from Jaffa to Jerusalem, which he, in turn, transferred to the Société Ottomane de Chemin de Fer de Jaffa à Jerusalem et Prolongements founded by him in France in consideration of one million francs. After the opening of the line, he received the title bey from the Ottoman government in recognition of his services in developing Ereẓ Israel. After he lost his capital, he moved to Paris in 1894. Here he met *Herzl and tried to interest him in his plans for developing Ereẓ Israel. He died in Paris.


K. Grunwald, in: K.H. Manegold (ed.), Festschrift W. Treue (1969), 240–54 (Eng.); M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1937), 454–6; Tidhar, 1 (1947), 70–71.

[Yehuda Slutsky]