Aaron Aaronsohn – the Palestinian problem ……… 14

The castle at Athlit was just visible from Zichron, a speck on the horizon in the direction of Haifa.
Aaron Aaronsohn had ridden there, even walked up the coast, since childhood, sometimes with his sister Sarah.
Athlit was peaceful and quiet, a good place to contemplate.
The ruins jutted out into the Mediterranean, with beaches to the north and south and the foothills of the Carmel to the east.
Aaron was especially interested in the land immediately behind the castle.
It was covered with thistles and pocked with vernal ponds, breeding sites for mosquitoes, but it was flat and mostly dry, unlike the swampy land along much of the coast, including the land along the sea below Zichron.

At Athlit Aaron would walk from the sea to the foothills, surveying elevations and drainage, testing the soil, recording details of the plants and soil types.
He could picture the wet areas drained, the marsh converted into a pond for irrigation, the thistle-covered land cleared for fields and orchards, stones from the fields used to build a road leading to the station, and in a central clearing, a laboratory and research library, with sheds for equipment and a windmill to pump water for irrigation.
As early as 1902 he had wanted to build an agricultural research station, and had sketched out his plans in a memo to the Zichron physician, Hillel Yaffe.
On land even the Arabs chose not to farm, he wanted to build an experimental farm where he could prove that science would pave the way for the future of Jewish Palestine.

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