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AARONSOHN, AARON. (1876-1919).

Agricultural expert and early Zionist leader in Palestine. He conducted valuable experiments to improve crops cultivated in Palestine, and discovered wild wheat, a special type of grain sought by botanists the world over. During World War I, with his brother Alexander, his sister Sarah, and close friends, he joined the NILI, a secret organization which sought to aid Britain in conquering Palestine, in order to realize a Jewish homeland. Sarah was captured by the Turks who tortured her to find out who NILI’s members were. She refused to tell and finally shot herself. At the end of the war, Aaronsohn set out on a political mission to England. On May 15, 1919, on the way from London to Paris to the Peace Conference, his plane mysteriously disappeared. It is assumed that it fell into the English Channel. Aaronsohn left behind valuable botanical studies which were published after his untimely death. K’far Aaron, a village in Israel, as well as the Agricultural Institute of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, are named in his honor.

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