December 26, 1864
One of the most distinguished land purchasers of the Yishuv (Jewish settlements in Palestine), Yehoshua Hankin was born in Ukraine in 1864 and made aliyah to Israel with his father in 1882. They settled in Rishon Le’Tzion. He alone was responsible for purchasing more than 30% of the land that the new state owned when it established its independence in 1948. Hankin’s success was due in part to his familiarity with the intricacies of Turkish bureaucracy, his knowledge of land law, and his deep understanding of Arabic language and culture.
In 1890 Hankin purchased his first plot of land for the Yishuv, which later became the town of Rehovot. A year later, he purchased another plot of land, which became the town of Hadera. In 1908, Hankin and Arthur Ruppin (see: https://israeled.org/arthur-ruppin-purchases-land-hebrew-university/) founded the Palestine Land Development Corporation, a small organization that assisted Jewish buyers in purchasing land. Over the next few years, Hankin negotiated the purchase of thousands of dunams of land in Israel’s northern fertile valleys.
During WWI, the Turks forced Hankin into exile in Anatolia. Hankin remained undeterred and returned to Palestine in 1920, whereupon he secured a deal to purchase 60,000 dunams of land in the Jezreel Valley, despite not having all the capital to close the deal. Funding for the purchase was ultimately provided by the JNF (Jewish National Fund) and this tract of land became home to many settlements and agricultural communities. In 1932 Hankin became the head of The Palestine Land Development Corporation. He died in Tel Aviv in 1945.