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Zionist pioneer leader, soldier, and founder of the pioneer movement Hechalutz. He was born in Russia and had little contact with Jewish life. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 where he lost his left arm in the siege of Port Arthur, and was decorated four times for conspicuous bravery. He emerged from the army with the unheard of distinction of being the only Jewish officer in the Tsar’s forces. However, the wave of pogroms against Russian Jewry turned him into a Zionist, and he went to Palestine as a pioneer. With one arm he learned to till the soil in the settlement of Degania.

At the outbreak of World War I, he organized the Zion Mule Corps to fight on the side of the British against the Turks. He served as captain in the Gallipoli Expeditionary Force. The record of bravery of the Corps was helpful in organizing the Jewish Legion in 1917. Meanwhile, when the Tsarist government fell, Trumpeldor returned to Russia hoping to organize an army of 10,000 Jews to lead over the Caucasus and Anatolia to Palestine. The Bolshevik Revolution broke out, and his plan failed. Instead, he organized the young Zionists of Russia in the Hechalutz pioneer movement and succeeded in getting a group of them out of Russia. Back in Palestine he turned to self-defense work. At the end of World War I, the borderline between Syria and Palestine was unsettled. Three small Jewish settlements were in this disputed area. The British and French forces had withdrawn, and Metulla, Ayelet Hashachar, and Tel Hai lay exposed to the bands of hostile Bedouins. Trumpeldor realized the importance of defending these settlements and holding them within the boundaries of Palestine. With a small band of men and women, Trumpeldor defended the area and was killed in battle. The area he fought for remained part of Israel. In the history of the State of Israel, he was the first Jewish hero of modern times, a model for the new generations of Jews willing to risk their lives for their land.

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