Rutenberg, Pinchas

   Russian revolutionary and Zionist industrialist. Born in the Ukraine and trained as an engineer at the St Petersburg Technological Institute, Rutenberg played a prominent role in the revolutionary Social Democrat party in Russia. In 1905 he marched with Father Gapon in the procession mown down by czarist troops on ‘Bloody Sunday’. When it was later revealed that Gapon was a police agent-provocateur, Rutenberg organized his underground ‘trial’ and execution by the revolutionaries. In 1917, at the outset of the revolution, Kerensky appointed him deputy governor of Petrograd. He was imprisoned for six months after the October revolution by the Bolsheviks. In 1919 he emigrated from Russia to Palestine. He was at the head of the earliest Haganah (self-defence) organization in Jerusalem in 1920. His major activity in Palestine was to originate an imaginative and important scheme for producing hydroelectric power from the rivers Jordan and Yarmuk. To this end he sought a concession from the British government with Zionist support. He was denounced in the House of Commons as a ‘dangerous world revolutionary’ and accused of ‘having murdered with his own hands the priest Gapon’. But the colonial secretary, Winston CHURCHILL, granted the concession and in 1923 Rutenberg established the Palestine Electric Corporation, which laid the basis for the industrialization of Palestine. He continued to be active in yishuv politics and industrial development until his death.

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

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