Kisch, Frederick Herman

(1888–1943)
   British soldier and Zionist. Kisch was born in India, the son of a British official, and became a professional soldier in the Royal Engineers. During World War I he served mainly in Mesopotamia, and worked in military intelligence in London while convalescing from wounds. After the war he was a military adviser with the British delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. He had imbibed Jewish traditions and a Zionist attachment from his father. Dr WEIZMANN considered that he could serve as a bridge between the Zionist leadership and the Palestine administration, and in 1922 offered him the post of head of the Jewish Agency’s political department in Jerusalem, with a seat on the Executive. It was certainly not easy going at first. The Zionist leaders from Eastern Europe, like USSISHKIN, were suspicious of this ‘pukka sahib’; for the British officials, he was one of their own kind who had ‘gone native’. But his moderation, tact and honesty of purpose gained trust in both camps. He also tried hard to develop areas of Jewish - Arab co-operation, as appears from his Palestine Diary, published in 1938 with a foreword by LLOYD GEORGE. But the odds were against him. Some of the Jews thought he courted the Arabs too much; others that he did not do so enough. The Arab riots of 1929 led to a crisis over British policy in Palestine. In 1931 Kisch resigned with Weizmann. He went into business in Haifa, settled in a beautiful home on Mount Carmel, and actively supported non-political institutions in the yishuv, such as the Haifa Technion and the Philharmonic Orchestra.
   With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Kisch immediately volunteered for military service, and was appointed chief engineer of the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert, with the rank of brigadier. He was killed by a landmine near Tunis, in April 1943. Kisch’s name is commemorated in Israel by the Galilee moshav Kfar Kisch, founded by ex-soldiers of the Eighth Army, and by a forest in Lower Galilee.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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