2 pages | SMC 540
- Golda Meir
- David Ben-Gurion
Private David Ben-Gurion, a volunteer in the Jewish Legion, 1918: Wikimedia Commons
David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) was the first prime minister of the State of Israel, and one of the country’s main founders. David Gru¨¨n was born in 1886 in Plonsk, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire. His father was a member of the Zionist Hibbat Zion movement, and his mother passed away when David was eleven years old. When Ben-Gurion was fourteen, he helped establish the religious Zionist youth movement Ezra with two friends. He joined the Poalei Zion workers movement in 1905 whilst a student at Warsaw University. The following year, he emigrated to the Ottoman Mutasafirate of Jerusalem, working in his idealized role of the agricultural laborer. In 1911, Ben-Gurion went to Thessaloniki to study Turkish in order to enroll in law school in Constantinople the following year. Three years later, in 1915, he was deported from the Ottoman Empire for his Zionist activities and made his way to New York, where he met and married his Russian-immigrant wife, Paula, in 1917. Shortly after his marriage, Ben-Gurion enlisted in the Jewish Legion to help liberate Palestine from the Turks. In 1920, he and some colleagues founded the Histadrut as a forerunner of a Jewish government, and actively lobbied for more Jewish immigration - especially from America. By 1930, various labor organizations and movements had banded together to form Mapai, with Ben-Gurion at its helm. Five years later, Ben-Gurion was also the head of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency. Ben-Gurion famously read the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May of 1948 and became Israel’s first Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. He served as Prime minister from 1948-1953 and again from 1955 until he resigned in 1963. Ben-Gurion retired from public life in 1970 and died in 1973. He is interred on the grounds of his home in Sde Boker, in the south of Israel.