Activities

 

Israel

Original research about the history of veterinary medicine in Israel during the later phase of Ottoman rule (1870-1917) was undertaken by Dr. David Melzer, now at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (dnmelzer@netvision.net.il).

This research was the first of its kind. The information was collected from the archives of the first settlements of jews in Israel. It covers all aspects of farm animals, the first veterinarians, the workmethods in use, diseases and hardships, the medicines used by the arabs for their animals, and more. The work was highly esteemed and the author received a prize for it. A short version was published in Israel journal of veterinary medicine, vol. 52(1), 3-10, 1997, under the title: "The history of veterinary medicine in Israel during the last phase of the Ottoman period (1870-1917)". The abstract (with some minor alterations) reads as follows:

"In Eretz Israel, during the later phase of the Ottoman period, the Jewish settlements grew greater in size, concomitant with the first and second waves of immigration (first wave between 1882 and 1903 with 40,000 immigrants; second wave between 1904 and 1914 with 2,000 immigrants). The first modern farms were established and groups of young people learned how to run farms professionally (a first school, "Mikve Israel", was already set up in 1870). None of these settlements would have existed without the massive support of Baron Edmund Rothschild. The animals raised by the settlers were the same as those raised by the Arab inhabitants. They included cows of different breeds, sheep, goats, horses, mules, donkeys, chickens, bees and even ostriches. In the urban districts raising animals was of minor importance and served only the needs of the own family, whereas in the agricultural settlements great efforts were made, and money invested to increase production, and, especially on dairy farms, to improve the breeds. The settlers learned to combine the methods of management of the Arabs with the knowledge that had arrived from Europe, mainly through the Templers. The first veterinarians came from Europe. They had to confront a suspicious attitude. Superstitions were dominant among the Arabs and were adopted also by the Jewish settlers. The inhabitants of the country lacked support from the Ottoman Empire that was in decline. The hard conditions of work for the veterinarians, the shortage of medicines and instruments, the time-consuming travel and the low salary were severe obstacles to the development of veterinary medicine. All these are well documented in protocols and letters from that period.

The Arabs had developed natural methods for treating sick animals, using herbs, sometimes in combination with burning therapy. They taught the Jewish settlers to use the same for the common problems encountered.

The first veterinarian was Dr. Samsonov, who had completed his studies in Alfort in 1909. He has founded "The Mutual Society Fund for Cattle" in order to solve financial and adminstrative problems as well as medical ones. Most of the diseases at that time were fatal and caused severe losses. Rinderpest was very common, and for that reason the first government veterinarian, Dr. Shemtov was sent. Other enzootic diseases were foot and mouth disease, bovine malignant catarrh and rabies. Considering the great problems the veterinarians had to face, remarkable progress in veterinary medicine was made nevertheless".