Portrait: David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister

Wednesday, 21 September 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
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David Ben-Gurion, 1968 © Fritz Cohen - National Photo Collection of Israel

David Ben-Gurion, 1968 © Fritz Cohen – National Photo Collection of Israel

David Ben-Gurion was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel. Adopting the name of Ben-Gurion in 1909, he rose to become the preeminent leader of the Jewish community in British-ruled Mandatory Palestine from 1935 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which he led until 1963 with a short break in 1954–55.

Ben-Gurion’s passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and executive head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946. As head of the Jewish Agency from 1935, and later president of the Jewish Agency Executive, he was the de facto leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, and largely led its struggle for an independent Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine. On 14 May 1948, he formally proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, and was the first to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which he had helped to write. Ben-Gurion led Israel during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and united the various Jewish militias into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Subsequently, he became known as “Israel’s founding father“.

Following the war, Ben-Gurion served as Israel’s first prime minister and minister of defense. As prime minister, he helped build state institutions, presiding over national projects aimed at the development of the country. He also oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. A centerpiece of his foreign policy was improving relationships with the West Germans. He worked with Konrad Adenauer‘s government in Bonn, and West Germany provided large sums (in the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany) in compensation for Nazi Germany‘s confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust.

Albert Einstein and David Ben-Gurion © Israeli GPO photographer - National Photo Collection of Israel David Ben-Gurion statue by Don Winton at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba © Amirber cc-by-sa-3.0 David Ben-Gurion, 1968 © Fritz Cohen - National Photo Collection of Israel David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir statues in the Histadrut Garden © Nizzan Cohen/cc-by-sa-4.0 Graves of Paula and David Ben-Gurion in Midreshet Ben Gurion © David Shankbone/cc-by-3.0 John F. Kennedy and David Ben-Gurion © Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Agence France-Presse
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Albert Einstein and David Ben-Gurion © Israeli GPO photographer - National Photo Collection of Israel
In 1954 he resigned as prime minister and minister of defense but remained a member of the Knesset. He returned as minister of defense in 1955 after the Lavon Affair and the resignation of Pinhas Lavon. Later that year he became prime minister again, following the 1955 elections. Under his leadership, Israel responded aggressively to Arab guerrilla attacks, and in 1956, invaded Egypt along with British and French forces after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis.

He stepped down from office in 1963, and retired from political life in 1970. He then moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where he lived until his death. Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign a treaty with Israel. It is normal; we took their land. It’s true that God promised it to us, but why should she care? Our God is not their God. There were anti-Semites, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was it their fault? They only see one thing: We came and stole their land. Why should they accept that?”
– David Ben-Gurion

Read more on Wikipedia Germany–Israel relations and Wikipedia David Ben-Gurion (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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