1948 (aged 59–60)|
Alexander Aaronsohn (Hebrew: אלכסנדר אהרנסון; Romania, 1888–Palestine, 1948) was an author and activist who wrote about the plight of people living in Palestine (now Israel) in his book, With the Turks in Palestine.
Aaronsohn was part of the influential Aaronsohn family who were major figures in the Zionist movement; his brother was Aaron Aaronsohn and his sister was Sarah Aaronsohn the three of whom were founder members of the Jewish spy network NILI. Sarah Aaronsohn was caught by the Turks, brutally tortured and committed suicide in her cell in 1917, aged 26.
Life and career
Aaronsohn's parents emigrated from Romania to Palestine with other Jewish families and founded the community of Zikhron Ya'akov in the fertile region south of Mount Carmel. Aaronsohn was born in this small village and grew up amongst a blooming agricultural community.
In 1910 Aaronsohn left for America on the advice of his brother who headed the Jewish Experiment Station at Athlit. He received his naturalization papers a few days after arrival and obtained work with the Department of Agriculture.
Aaronsohn returned to Palestine in July 1913 intending to make Zionist propaganda to spread to the United States. Two months after his return Aaronsohn learned of an attack on a well-respected Jewish doctor by four Arabs and the rape of a young sixteen-year-old Jewish girl. This event shocked Aaronsohn and he vowed to form a strong society that would protect the life and honor of villagers.
Despite Aaronsohn's ties to the United States, he was pushed into serving in the Turkish Army with the start of the first World War as the Ottoman Empire controlled Palestine. Aaronsohn and twenty of his acquaintances began this passage by presenting themselves at the recruiting station in Acco. They were then marched off to Han and made to wait with hundreds of impoverished Arabs. Aaronsohn was subsequently ordered to travel to Saffed, where his garrison was located.
Aaronsohn and his troupe's four-day march to Saffed was an arduous journey in the heat of the September sun. They were required to obtain their own food and the poor Arabs caused conflict by stealing from villages that they passed by. On arrival in Saffed they were informed that a dirty deserted mosque would serve as their barracks.