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David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion was born in Poland in October, 1886. As a kid he went to his father's Hebrew School where he first learned about Zionism. His mother died when he was 11.

He later studied in Warsaw and became involved in a Socialist Zionist organization.
He first went to Israel in 1906, at the age of twenty, where he helped found Kibbutz Deganya and also helped
establish the “Hashomer,” the watch man defense organization.

Political Life
  • He became the head of the Histadrut which was the largest labor union in Israel. During World War II, he helped thousands of illegal immigrants from Europe enter Israel, (although Great Britain had put low quotas on immigration). He also encouraged Jews to join Britain in the war against Germany.
  • In 1948, he declared independence for the State of Israel and became the first Prime Minister. He combined the different military groups such as the Palmach and Hagana, Lechi and Etzel into the IDF.  He had more trouble bringing the Irgun run by Menachem Begin into the IDF, but eventually he did. 
  • As Prime Minister, he oversaw the establishment of the state's institutions. He helped develop the country and grow its population through various projects such as: “Operation Magic Carpet,” the airlift of Jews from Arab countries, the construction of the national water carrier, rural development projects, and the establishment of new towns and cities." In particular, he  also encouraged kibbutz settlements in the Negev area, especially. Since that was an area not already heavily populated by Arabs, he hoped it would be a good place for Jewish settlement.
  • In late 1953, Ben-Gurion left the government and retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev. He returned to politics in 1955, when he was asked to become the Defense Minister.  Later he became the Prime Minister again. 
  • As Prime Minister, Ben-Gurion established relations with West Germany, although there was bitter opposition throughout the country. He also led the country during the 1956 Sinai campaign, in which Israeli troups temporarily took over Sinai.
  • In June 1963, Ben-Gurion resigned as Prime Minister, for “personal reasons.”
  • In June 1970, Ben-Gurion retired from political life and returned to Sde Boker where he passed away in 1973. 

Some of Ben Gurion's most famous quotations are:
    1. “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles”
    2. “Israel has created a new image of the Jew in the world - the image of a working and an intellectual people, of a people that can fight with heroism.”



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