Faces of Judaism

David Ben Gurion (1886-1973) was journalist, Zionist activist, political leader, and the first Prime Minister of Israel.

David Ben-Gurion

Ben Gurion emigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1906. His Hebrew-Zionist education and the anti-Semitism he experienced in Europe led him to dedicate himself to realizing the dream of a Jewish national home. He was expelled from Palestine in 1915 for his nationalist activities. He traveled to the United States and worked there to organize support for a Jewish State.


In 1918, after World War I, Ben Gurion returned to Palestine, now under British Mandate. He witnessed the growing anti-Semitism in Europe and the growing tension in Palestine between Arabs and Jews as the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine grew.

During World War II, Ben Gurion sent thousands of Jews from Palestine to fight in the British army against the Nazis and he organized underground agencies to bring thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine.

Given the 1947 U.N. Plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State, Ben Gurion, elected to be Israel’s Prime Minister, declared Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948.

Ben Gurion’s leadership during the War of Independence caused many to view him as a modern-day combination of King David, Moses, and George Washington.

In the 1956 War, Ben Gurion led the Jewish State to victory again. Ben Gurion was in is 80s when Israel was victorious in the 1967 Six-Day War. Ben Gurion made it clear that he thought Israel should keep Jerusalem undivided, but should relinquish the newly gained territories in return for peace. Ben Gurion died in 1973, after the Yom Kippur War.


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