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Naaman Belkind

(1889 - 1917)

The nephew of Bilu founder Israel Belkind and the son of Bilu pioneer Shimshon Belkind, Naaman Belkind was born in Eretz Yisrael. He grew up in the Bilu community of Gedera, and was later employed in the wine cellars of Rishon LeTzion.

Along with his cousin Avshalom Feinberg and his brother Eytan, Belkind joined the Nili espionage group, which was formed in 1915 to assist the British against the Turkish authorities. The group encountered much opposition to its operations, in part from the British themselves, but largely from the members of the Yishuv, who regarded the espionage as subversive and endangering Jewish settlements. Nili's independence from mainstream Zionist politics also lent it a controversial nature, but the group maintained its activities.

In September, 1917, Belkind set out for Egypt to look into the circumstances regarding Feinberg's death earlier that year. Caught by Beduin in the Sinai, he was handed over to the Turks and brought to Damascus. Shortly after, the principal Nili figures were arrested and the group incapacitated. Belkind was convicted of spying and was hanged on December 16, 1917, along with Nili leader Yosef Lishansky. He was later re-interred in Rishon LeTzion.

Sources: The Pedagogic Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for Israel, (c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman, Webmaster: Esther Carciente