Ben-Zion Israeli (February 20, 1887 – July 30, 1954) was a Second Aliyah immigrant, agriculture pioneer settler in Eretz Israel, a founder of Kibbutz Kinneret, active in protecting the farmers and founder of a company of infantry in the Jordan Valley. He was also active in the reintroduction of date trees in Israel .
Israeli was born Benzion Chernomorsky ( Chernomorsky ) in the town of Glukhov in Ukraine to a traditional Jewish family. His father was a butcher and a dayan . Until the age of 15, he studied Talmud Torah . In 1906 , after the Kishinev riots , he immigrated to Eretz Israel and changed his name to “Israeli”.
Israel worked in Petah Tikva with A D Gordon, where he met Noah Nftolski and Meir Rothberg. They did odd jobs in orchards and ate with the workers of Feige Seltzer. Ben Zion fell in love with the daughter of Feige and the two were married.
Israeli return to see family in Russia, but while he was there was drafted into the army but managed to escape. In 1909 , Israeli returned to Israel and joined a group of 13 pioneer workers,
led by his two friends, Naftolsky and Rotberg they were known as “the group together” or a “trio together”. The decided to settle on the Kinneret farm. with Israeli wife and the poet Rachel.
Menachem Shmuelevich (Mamshi) also lived at the Kinneret farm until his death in 1911. Following a disagreement with the director of agricultural Moshe Berman Israeli left Kinneret and moved to Kfar Uria in 1913 finally some members of the group led by Rotberg settled in Kalandia ( Atarot ), near Jerusalem. Israeli and some of the group including Joseph Salzman returned to the Sea of Galilee later that year and founded the Kinneret. In the 1930s Israeli instituted modern methods of intensive agriculture and the banana and date plantations.
On the eve of World War II, established and commanded a company of fighter in the Jordan Valley. But felt that this was not enough and volunteered for the British Army at the age of 54.
Upon his return to Israel he established guest house and a college to commemorate Berl Katzenelson.
After the establishment of the state, he wrote articles for the paper Davar. He wrote wrote extensively about the history of the Kinneret settlement and agriculture in the Jordan Valley.
He travelled extensively throughout Iraq and Egypt to find Date plants which would be hardy enough to flourish in Israel.
During his travels in the countries of the East, he met with Jewish communities. Many times he was the first to bring them news of the Jewish Zionist revival in the Land of Israel. For example, there is a letter from Rabbi Yosef Fathi Sahiq from Baghdad expressing his admiration after the meeting with the pioneer from Eretz Israel. In 1934 he devoted an entire journey to meeting with Jewish communities in Iraq and Kurdistan and came to Mosul and Kirkuk. Upon his return to Israel, he demanded the release of the Jews of Kurdistan and Iraq. On other travels he visited the martyrs of Mashhad in Iran, who saw him as the Messiah.