Baron Edmond de Rothschild

Baron Abraham Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild in Hebrew – HaBron Avraham Edmond Benyamin Jaakov Rothschild; 19 August 1845 – 2 November 1934) was a French member of the Rothschild banking family. A strong supporter of Zionism, his large donations lent significant support to the movement during its early years, which helped lead to the establishment of the State of Israel, where he is simply known as “the baron Rothschild”, “HaBaron”, or “Hanadiv” (Eng: The generous one). 

He became a leading proponent of the Zionist movement, financing the first site at Rishon LeZion. In his goal for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, he promoted industrialization and economic development. In 1924, he established the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA), which acquired more than 125,000 acres (50,586 ha) of land and set up business ventures.

Edmond de Rothschild also played a pivotal role in Israel’s wine industry. Under the supervision of his administrators in Ottoman Palestine, farm colonies and vineyards were established, and two major wineries were opened in Rishon LeZion and Zikhron Ya’akov. It is estimated that Rothschild spent over $50 million in supporting the settlements and backed research in electricity by engineers and financed development of an electric generating station.

Rothschild funded a glass factory that would supply bottles for his wineries. Rothschild met Meir Dizengoff in Paris and chose Dizengoff to launch and manage the new factory, called Mizaga. Dizengoff opened the factory in Tantura in 1892 and managed the factory for approximately two years. Mizaga was the first Jewish-owned factory in Ottoman Palestine.

Jews and Arabs lived amicably on Rothschild’s land, with no Arab grievances, even in the worst periods of disturbance. According to historian Albert M. Hyamson, “Rothschild recognised that the overriding interest of the Jews of Palestine was the confidence and the friendship of their Arab neighbours. The interests of the Arab cultivators of the land he bought were never overlooked, but by development he made this land capable of maintaining a population ten times its former size. 

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