|Died||1 January 1943(aged 66)|
|Resting place||Kibbutz Degania Alef|
Arthur Ruppin (1 March 1876 – 1 January 1943) was a Zionist thinker and leader, and was one of the founders of the city of Tel Aviv. He was appointed director of Berlin's Bureau for Jewish statistics (Büro für Statistik der Juden) in 1904 and in 1907 moved to Palestine. From 1908 on, he was the director of the Palestine Office of the Zionist Organization in Jaffa, organizing Zionist colonisation in Palestine. In 1926 Ruppin joined the faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founded the Department for the Sociology of the Jews. A building there is now named in his honor. His most celebrated sociological work is The Jews in the Modern World (1934). He is widely recognized as the founding father of Zionist settlement and, arguably, of modern Israeli Hebrew identity and habitus.
Arthur Ruppin was born in Rawicz in the German Empire (today in Poland). The family moved to Magdeburg when he was 11, and there followed a period of slow decline in the family's prosperity. A fifteen, his family's poverty forced him to leave school, where he was regarded as an extremely gifted pupil, in order to work to support them. Though he disliked commerce, he proved to be an extremely able merchant in the grain trade. Nonetheless, he was able to complete his studies in law and economics, and came second place in a prize competition established by the Krupp Steelworks concerning the uses of Social Darwinism in industry.[a] While at the university, Ruppin accepted the crude racial views of his age, including the idea that Jews were an inferior race, whose liabilities as a group could only be overcome by assimilation, outbreeding with Germans and Slavs. By the early 1900s, however, he began to think of himself as a Jew and take a more positive view: Jews could be regenerated not by outbreeding with Slavs and Germans, but rather by reconstituting themselves as a separate nation, as Zionism proposed. As he confided to his diary at this time, Zionism or complete assimilation: tertium non datur.
Ruppin joined the Zionist Organization (ZO, the future World Zionist Organization – WZO) in 1905. In 1907 he was sent by David Wolffsohn, the President of the ZO, to study the condition of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine), then in the Ottoman Empire, to investigate the possibilities for development of agriculture and industry. He reported on what he saw, which was distressing, and gave recommendations for improving the situation. In 1908 Ruppin came to live in Palestine by decision of the eighth Zionist Congress. He opened the Palestine Office of the Zionist Organization in Jaffa, with the aim of directing the settlement activities of the Zionist movement. His work made Practical Zionism possible and shaped the direction of the Second Aliya, the last wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine before World War I.
Ruppin became the chief Zionist land agent. He helped to get a loan for Ahuzat Bayit, later Tel Aviv, and acquired land on the Carmel, in Afula, in the Jezreel Valley, and in Jerusalem. Ruppin was instrumental in shaping the nature of Jewish settlement in Palestine and in changing the paradigm of settlement from those of plantation owners and poor laborers to the collective and cooperative kibbutzim and moshavim that became the backbone of the state-in-the-making. He catalyzed the commune at Sejera, and helped building the first kibbutz – Degania, as well as helping to support and organize Kinneret, Merhavia and other settlements. Later, he supported Yehoshua Hankin in his purchases of large tracts of land in the Galilee.
Ruppin was among the founders of the Brit Shalom peace movement, which supported a binational state, but he left Brit Shalom after the 1929 Hebron massacre. Thereafter he was convinced that only an independent Jewish state would be possible, and he believed that the way to bring about that state was through continued settlement. He headed the Jewish Agency between 1933 and 1935, and helped to settle the large numbers of Jewish immigrants from Germany who came in that period. Ruppin exercised considerable influence in the cultural formation of East European Jews who performed aliyah and were to rise to positions of importance in later decades, such as David Ben-Gurion, Itzhak Ben-Zvi, Joseph Shprinzak, Berl Katznelson, Yitzhak Tabenkin, Zalman Shazar, and Levi Eshkol. Ruppin died in 1943. He was buried in Degania Alef.
In terms of historic origins, Ruppin believed that early Jews were a non-Semitic agricultural people, living in Palestine down to the destruction of the First Temple. Thereafter they began to intermarry with the surrounding Semitic peoples and thereby compromised and weakened their racial purity. It was the infusion of Semitic blood, he held, that seduced Jews from working land and, instead, led them to concentrate on commerce, a transformation which, he thought, accounted for the 'greed' later prejudice attributed to Jews.
Ruppin considered assimilation as the worst threat to the existence of Jews as people, and argued for a concentration of Jews in a common area, to be realized by the colonisation of Palestine, where they would be protected from the assimilationist tendencies in Europe, as he explained in his book "The Jews of the Present" ("Die Juden der Gegenwart" in German), especially in its second, largely-amended, edition. Ruppin accepted the idea of a division of humankind into three important races of humans, the "white", "yellow" and "black" and considered Jews to be part of the "white" race (page 213/214), and within this "race", which Ruppin divides in "Xantrochroe" (light colored) and "Melanochroe" (dark colored), to be part of the latter, actually mixture from the Arab and North African peoples and other West and South Asian peoples. Ruppin believed that realization of Zionism required "racial purity" of Jews and was inspired by works of anti-semitic thinkers, including some Nazis. Ruppin personally met Heinrich Himmler's mentor, Hans F. K. Günther, one of many racist thinkers who greatly influenced Nazism.
Specifically regarding Jews, Ruppin distinguished between "Racial Jews" and "Jewish types", and drew up a concept that divided Jews into "white, black and yellow" metaracial categories. His variables, later to prove influential in Israel, were worked out over a classification between Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Babylonians, and "special types" who didn't fit into the former categories, namely such as Yemenites and Bukharans. He performed skull measurements and believed Ashkenazi Jews, whom he regarded as superior to, for example, Yemeni Jews, themselves comprised various racial subclasses, according to nasal structure. Despite these variations in their respective historic communities, Ruppin was convinced that Jews were distinguished by a special biological uniqueness.
Ruppin wrote that Jewish race should be "purified", and he stated that "only the racially pure come to the land." After becoming head of the Palestine Office of the Zionist Executive (later the Jewish Agency for Israel), he argued against immigration of Ethiopian Jews because of their lack of "blood connection" and that Yemenite Jews should be limited to menial labor. Due to the Holocaust, historiography in Israel usually played down or ignored altogether this aspect of Ruppin's life.
Awards and recognition
Many cities in Israel named streets after him, and the city of Haifa has a prize in his name awarded for extraordinary works in thinking, philosophy and politics. One of the prize-winners was the philosopher, Zionist and friend of Kafka's, Felix Weltsch in 1952.
The German city Magdeburg, in which Ruppin lived during his youth, has named a street after him.
Ruppin Academic Center is named after Arthur Ruppin.
- Aschheim, Steven E. (2018) [First published 2007]. Beyond the Border: The German-Jewish Legacy Abroad. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-18632-0.
- Bhandar, Brenna (2018). Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-822-37139-7.
- Bloom, Etan (2007a). "The "Administrative Knight" – Arthur Ruppin and the Rise of Zionist Statistics". The Tel Aviv University Year Book for German History. XXXV: 183–203.
- Bloom, Etan (2007b). "What "The Father" had in Mind, Arthur Ruppin (1876–1943), Cultural Identity, Weltanschauung and Action". The Journal for History of European Ideas. 33/3: 330–349.
- Bloom, Etan (2008). Arthur Ruppin and the Production of the Modern Hebrew Culture (PDF) (Thesis). Tel Aviv University. pp. 1–471.
- Bloom, Etan (2011). Arthur Ruppin and the Production of Pre-Israeli Culture. Brill. ISBN 978-9-004-20379-2.
- Falk, Raphael (2017). Zionism and the Biology of Jews. Springer.
- Frantzman, Seth (21 April 2014). "Israel's Uncomfortable History of Racist Engineering". The Forward.
- Hart, Mitchell B. (June 1999). "Racial Science, Social Science, and the Politics of Jewish Assimilation". Isis. 90 (2): 268–297. JSTOR 237051.
- Hirsch, Dafna (11 August 2009). "Zionist eugenics, mixed marriage, and the creation of a 'new Jewish type'". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 15 (4): 592–609. JSTOR 40541701.
- Langton, Daniel R. (27 September 2017). "Zionism and Evolutionary Theory: Seals, Social Darwinism, Science Education, and Eugenics" (PDF). Katz Centre for Advanced Judaic Studies. Philadelphia: 1–34 – via Manchester Research Explorer.
- Morris-Reich, Amos (Fall 2006). "Arthur Ruppin's Concept of Race". Israel Studies. 11 (3): 1–30.
- Penslar, Derek Jonathan (1991). Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918. Indiana University Press.
- Segev, Tom (8 October 2009). "The Makings of History / Revisiting Arthur Ruppin". Haaretz. Haaretz.
Media related to Arthur Ruppin at Wikimedia Commons
- The personal papers of Arthur Ruppin are kept at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. The notation of the record group is A107.
- Writings by Arthur Ruppin in the online digital collections of the Frankfurt University Library (in their original German language, and in translations)
- »Dreißig Jahre Aufbau in Palästina« collection of speeches and writings by Artur Ruppin (in German). Schocken, Berlin, 1937. Online edition at the German National Library (english version »Three decades of Palestine: speeches and papers on the upbuilding of the Jewish national home« accessible only in the library's reading room)
- »Die Juden der Gegenwart« (The Jews of the Present – German) online at Deutsche Nationalbiblithek