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Biography of Arthur Ruppin

Dr, Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943) was born in Germany. At age 15, family poverty forced him to go to work. Nonetheless, he was able to complete his studies in law and economics. He was to distinguish himself both in furthering practical Zionist settlement and in the academic world.

Ruppin† joined the Zionist Organization in 1905. In 1907 he was sent by David Wolfsohnn, the President of the Zionist Organization, to study the condition of the Jewish Yishuv (community in Palestine) and to investigate the possibilities for development of agriculture and industry.† He reported on what he saw, which was not good, and gave recommendations for improving the situation.†† In 1908 Ruppin came to live in Israel in accordance with the decision of the eighth Zionist Congress. He opened the Palestine Bureau (also known as "Eretz Yisrael Office") of the Zionist organization in Yaffo, with the aim of directing the settlement activities of the Zionist movement. His work made "practical Zionism" possible and shaped the direction of the second Aliya.

Ruppin became the Zionist land agent. He helped to get a loan for† Ahuzat Bayit, later Tel Aviv, and helped Yehoshua Hankin acquire land on the Carmel, in Afula, in the Jezreel Valley,† and in Jerusalem. Ruppin was instrumental in shaping the nature of Jewish settlement in Palestine and in changing the paradigm of settlement from those of plantation owners and poor laborers to the Kibbutz collective and cooperative Moshavim that became the backbone of the state-in-the-making. He catalyzed the commune at Sejera and helped to turn it into the first Kibbutz settlement - Degania, as well as helping to support and organize Kinnereth, Merhavia and other settlements. Ruppin was among the founders of the Brit Shalom peace movement, which supported a binational state, but he left Brit Shalom after the Arab riots of 1929. Thereafter he was convinced that only an independent Jewish state would be possible, and he believed that the way to bring about that state was through continued settlement.† He headed the Jewish Agency in 1933-1935, and helped to settle the large numbers of Jewish immigrants from Germany who came in that period.† Ruppin died in 1943 and was buried in Kibbutz Degania.

Ami Isseroff

More Israeli and Zionist Biographies The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

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