David Ben-Gurion

Article

May 28, 2022

David Ben-Gurion (Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן גּוּרִיּוֹן; Plonsk, October 16, 1886 - Israel, December 1, 1973) was an Israeli statesman and the first Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of Defense (1948-1953 and 1955-1963) who dedicated his life the founding of the state of Israel in Palestine and later received the title of father of the homeland.

Biography

Ben-Gurion, whose original surname is Grün, was born in Plonsk in the Russian Empire (now part of Poland) on October 16, 1886, the son of an active Zionist. He was educated in a Hebrew school founded by his father. When he was 14, he became a member of the Zionist youth and the leader of a group of young Jews called Ezra, whose members spoke to each other only in Hebrew. At the age of 18, he became a teacher at the Warsaw Jewish School and joined the socialist Zionist group Radnici Ziona. He left Poland in 1906, and in 1908 he worked on a farm in a Jewish settlement in Palestine, which was located in an area that was under Turkish control. There he became one of the initiators of the agricultural workers' commune and helped found the Jewish self-defense group Hashomer (Guardian). In 1910, he gave up working on a farm and began editing the Zionist Hebrew workers' newspaper Jedinstvo. At that time, he changed his surname to Ben-Gurion, which in Hebrew means the son of a young lion. At the beginning of the First World War, the Turks expelled him from Palestine, together with Yitzhak Ben Zvi (later the second president of Israel), and in 1915 Gurion arrived in New York on behalf of the socialist Zionists. He also married Paul Monbes, a Zionist activist, in New York. In 1917, he published the Balfour Declaration in the United Kingdom, which revived Zionist hopes for his support for the People's Home for Jews in Palestine. Ben-Gurion helped organize the Jewish Legion within the British troops, which he himself joined in Canada in the spring of 1918. But by the time the legion sailed to Palestine the war was over and the British had taken power in Palestine. In 1922, the British mandate to govern Palestine became official. Only a year earlier (1921), he became general secretary of Histadrut, a confederation of Jewish workers. All that time he was the representative of Histadrut in the World Zionis