Jacobus Kann

forgotten founder of Tel Aviv

april 2018 – under construction and updated

This website is dedicated to the man who brought the funds to the Anglo Palestine Bank in Yaffo to purchase a peace of land called Kerem Jabali. On this piece of land the first houses of Tel Aviv were build on a street which is now known as Rothschild Boulevard. When the Ottomans found out this land was registered on the name of the Jew Jacobus Kann the Dutch Government was asked to send a warship to Yaffo to protect the property of Kann.

In no way did the municipality of Tel Aviv in any way commemorate Kann who put his own private money on the table to make the land purchase possible. Shame on you Tel Aviv!

And not just Tel Aviv. Jacobus Kann visited the first Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897 and got excited after hearing Theodor Herzl. He became Herzl’s aide, especially on financial matters and together with David Wolfsonn founded the Jewish Colonial Trust (Bank) and the Jewish National Fund. The three of them were the core of the International Zionist Movement’s during its first decade. In 1908 Kann published a book in which he demanded an autonomous Jewish state in Palestine with means to defend itself, the first important Zionist to say such a thing and a reason to clash with many other (practical) zionists. He was also well aware of the native people in Palestine and criticized the way the Zionist movement approached the Arabs.

Kann envisioned millions of Jews coming and could foresee many problems with the current infrastructure. On his own account and with his own money he instructed a Dutch engineer to make development plans for Jerusalem including a new water system, electrical street lightning and a light rail. Jerusalem was using the water aqueduct from the Hasmoneans from the 1st century BC at that time!

The banker and backbone of the Zionist movement when it comes to finance, was also the person trusted by the Americans when they send shiploads of money to Palestine during WWI. In this war Kann, as a citizen of a neutral country, acted as intermediary in sending mail to Zionist leaders who resided in different belligerent countries and pressured the Dutch Government to mediate in remittances to the Jews in Palestine. After WWI he became the first Dutch consul in Palestine for The Netherlands.

Its not only in Tel Aviv that they “forgot” him, no where in Israel do you find Kudoz for Kann and his deeds. In Jerusalem they put a memorial sign on the wall of one of the small exits of a square in Kiryat Yovel, according to Yad Vashem to commemorate transport XXIV/7 from Westerbork to Theresienstadt where he died on October 7 1944.