(1876 - 1919)
Aaron Aaronsohn, agronomist (b. Bacau, Romania; d. English
Channel). At the age of six he was taken by his parents to Eretz Israel.
His father was one of the founders of Zikhron
Ya'akov. Aaronsohn studied in France and on his return was employed as an agronomist by Baron
Edmond de Rothschild at Metullah (1895). He made extensive explorations
in Eretz Israel and neighboring countries and in 1906 discovered specimens
of wild wheat (triticum dicocoides) at Rosh Pinah, a discovery
that made him famous among botanists throughout the world.
At the invitation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Aaronsohn visited the United States in 19091910. With the help of influential
Jewish leaders and philanthropists he raised funds for the establishment
of an agricultural experiment station at Atlit near Haifa.
In 1915, with Avshalom Feinberg and members of their
families, Aaronsohn organized Nili,
a secret intelligence group with the aim of assisting the British forces
under General Edmund H.H. Allenby to conquer Eretz-Israel, thus helping
to realize Zionist aspirations. Moving
to Cairo, he helped British headquarters there in planning the campaign
for the invasion of Eretz-Israel. In 1916 he visited London and there
circulated a memorandum on the future of Eretz-Israel, which helped
to make the idea of a Jewish National Home in Eretz-Israel part of British
policy in the Near East. In 1918, Aaronsohn worked in conjunction with
the Zionist Commission in Eretz Israel, and, in 1919, he cooperated
with the Zionist delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, dealing especially
with the problem of the Eretz Israel boundaries.
Aaronsohn was killed in an airplane crash over the
English Channel on May 15, 1919. His research on Eretz Israel flora
and part of his exploration diaries were published posthumously.
Sources: New Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, ed., Geoffrey
Wigoder, Copyright 1994 by Associated University Press, The
Jewish Agency for Israel and The
World Zionist Organization.