The Aaron­sohn Saga

Shmuel Katz
  • Review
By – January 23, 2012
Shmuel Katz’ newest book explores the con­tri­bu­tions of this remark­able Jewish/​Palestinian hero. 

Aaron­sohn was an agron­o­mist who had an inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most cre­ative thinkers on the sub­ject of soil and soil nutri­ents. He dis­cov­ered a new form of wheat. He set up the Jew­ish Agri­cul­tur­al Exper­i­ment Sta­tion in Pales­tine, the first of its kind. 

But Aaronsohn’s sci­en­tif­ic con­tri­bu­tions pale in com­par­i­son to his hero­ism. 

Before the cre­ation of the State of Israel the region was con­trolled by the Ottomans. Aaron­sohn cre­at­ed a spy orga­ni­za­tion for the British that helped them defeat the Ottomans, oust the Turks, and even­tu­al­ly win World War I. His orga­ni­za­tion was called NILI, an acronym from the bib­li­cal verse in the book of the Prophet Isa­iah that reads: Nez­tah Israel Lo Ishakar—the great­ness of the future of Israel will not be a sto­ry or a fairy tale. 

Katz dis­cov­ered a slew of new and orig­i­nal resources and doc­u­ments that go fur­ther than ever before to demon­strate the enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion that Aaron­sohn and his sis­ter Sarah made to the British war effort. Aaron­sohn risked his own life because he believed not only in the great­ness of sci­ence but also in the great­ness of the col­lec­tive spirit.
Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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