Ellis Kadoorie hoped that by establishing an agricultural school in Tulkarm, he would be helping to educate and improve the conditions of Palestinians and Jews alike. Little did he know it would become a microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
By Tamar Novick and Arie M. Dubnov
The Kadoorie Agricultural School holds a special place in Israeli national memory; a second home for figures like the poet of the 1948 war, Haim Gouri, the future generals Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin, and many of the Palmach generation, the school is seen as the spiritual soil from which sprouted the mythological Sabra. “Kadoorie was more than just an educational institution,” wrote Allon in his memoir; it was an “educational and life-forging structure,” which molded the character of its students. With the passing years, many students became leading commanders of the Israeli Defense Forces in its first years, and their manners, clothes, speech acts, and celebrated “straightforwardness” supplied the associations and images through which the ideal of the “1948 generation” was constructed.
This generation’s presence in Israeli society only grew stronger as new generations followed. Yosef Milo, who directed the classic Israeli film “He Walked Through the Fields” (1967), pushed this point home in his take on Moshe Shamir’s novel, which tells the story of a paratrooper who upon his return from the battlefield in the Golan Heights, is seen paying a visit to the principal of Kadoorie Agricultural School on his way home to his kibbutz. The new Uri, a brave soldier of the Six Day War, is shown standing in the principal’s office, looking at a wall covered with photos of famous graduates, including that of the old Uri, the mythological Palmachnik who died at war. The choice of Assi Dayan, the son of the one-eyed general Moshe Dayan, for the role of the conflicted and feisty Uri, was not accidental, and established a connection between the generation of the sons and that of the combatant-fathers. The choice of the Kadoorie School as the filming site was also significant. This cinematic act concluded, in fact, the process of turning the school into what historian Pierre Nora calls “a site of memory” (lieu de mémoire) — that is, a space or physical object that codifies, sums up, and anchors national memory.
Rothschilds of the East
Yet only very few Jewish Israelis know about the existence of a twin school, also named after Kadoorie, located in the West Bank...Read More