The Rise and Fall of the Bahá'í Settlements in the Jordan Valley, 1880s-1950s

By Shay Rozen

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #111
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 30 – July 3, 2012
(see list of papers from #111)

    Among the religious communities that were active in the nineteenth century in Palestine, the Bahá'í community was one of the smallest. Since 1868, this religious community established their presence at the Haifa/Acre bay. The Bahá'í holy places at Haifa and the Western Galilee were announced as "World Heritage Sites", by UNESCO, in 2008.

    Among the Bahá'í properties in Palestine, the information on the Bahá'í settlements in the Jordan Valley is very scant and almost unknown. During the 1880s three settlements were established at the east and south shores of Lake Tiberias: Umm-Jūna, Es-Samrā and Nuqeib. A fourth settlement, El-Adasiyeh, was established during the first years of the twentieth century, near the Yarmuk River.

    Since the beginning of the twentieth century, portions of the Bahá'í lands in the Jordan valley were sold to the Zionist organizations and as a result a number of kibbutzim, such as Deganya Aleph, Deganya Beth, and Ein Gev were built on these lands.

    During the 1948 war, the Bahá'í settlers of Nuqeib were ordered by the local Ha-Hagana commander to evacuate their settlements. Since these Bahá'ís were not allowed to return after the war ended, they were compensated by land near Acre. The Bahá'í lands of Es-Samrā, that were part of the demilitarized zones, were bought by the Israeli government and their owners left the state. The inhabitants of El-Adasiyeh, the last Bahá'í settlement in the area, left the village in the 1960s and spread all over Jordan and thus the Bahá'í settlements in the Jordan Valley became an unknown part of the local and the national history of Israel.

    In my paper I propose to discuss the findings of my MA research on the Bahá'í settlements in the Jordan Valley, which also forms part of my PhD research on the Bahá'ís in Palestine.

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