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The Golan Heights, Israel

by

Esther Rechtschafner

 

Now there are many Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights. These settlements were all built up between the end of the Six Day War of 1967 and today.

There were also Jewish settlements in the Golan at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.

In about 1886-1890 Jews from Safed, accompanied by Jews from Tiberius, decided to build a settlement on the Golan. In 1886 the B'nei Yehuda Society of Safed purchased a plot of land on the Golan Heights. There were notices about this purchase in Hebrew newspapers at the time: HaModea, HaTefira and HaMelitz.

The land was acquired through the charity of Jewish communities from all over the world (particularly from Eastern Europe) together with that of Baron Rothchild. The Jews of Cherkassy also contributed to this charity. These contributions were made according to the means of the giver.

A Jewish community, by the name of Ramtaniya, was founded on the Golan. This Zionist settlement was about four kilometers north of the present-day religious moshav of Keshet (33 1' 10'' N latitude, 35 48' 26'' E longitude). Unfortunately, the settlement of Ramtaniya lasted only a year.

In 1887, the land of the Bedouin village of Bir Ashkum was purchased. This land is located between the present-day settlements of Bnei Yehuda and Ein Gev. The Bnei Yehuda members held on to the land with determination, until the last two settlers were murdered in the Arab riots of 1920, bringing an end to the settlement. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased some 18,000 acres in eastern Golan (approximately fifteen kilometers east of present-day Ramat Magshimim).

At the start of the twentieth century, First Aliyah immigrants settled in the Horan lands (just east of the Golan), and established five settlements; they were evicted by the Turks in 1898. Following the eviction, the land was managed as farms by the Palestine Colonization Association (PCA) and the Israel Colonization Association (ICA) until it was seized by the Syrian government. Most of the Golan Heights was included within Mandatory Palestine when the Mandate was formally granted in 1922, but Britain ceded the area to France in the Franco-British Agreement of 7 March 1923. The Heights became part of Syria upon the termination of the French mandate in 1944.

In light of the Golan's Jewish history, Zionist organizations demanded that the Golan be included within the borders of the Jewish National Home. This did not happen until the Golan Heights was liberated on 10 June 1967, the last day of the Six Day War.

Our eldest daughter, Idit, named after my Cherkassy-born Grandmother, lives in Katzrin, Ramat HaGolan, which is in this area.

The Yearning (Desire) for Jewish Settlement on the Eastern Bank of the Jordon 1871-1947 by Zvi Ilan deals with this subject.

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  • Last Modified: 02-17-2016

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