Who was he: David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel, in office from 1949 to 1963 except for a two year period in 1954 and 1955. The birth of the new nation was the culmination of Ben-Gurion's life work as a Zionist leader. Ben-Gurion helped lead Israel to victory in their war for independence in 1948.
The Jewish freedom fighters or terrorists, depending on your point of view, felt the end justified the means of killing many innocent people in order to influence politics and foreign policy to advance the interests of the Jewish people. We believe history will decide if this and other actions in the defense of Israel have been justified.
During World War II Ben-Gurion urged the Jews of Palestine to volunteer and join the British army and about 10 percent volunteered. They needed and received military training, which was Ben-Gurion's goal – to build a "Hebrew army" with the resources of the British army. At that time, Ben-Gurion was already planning for independence and war if necessary in order to establish the State of Israel. Ben-Gurion also worked tirelessly during the war and afterward to bring more Jewish settlers to Israel.
There are many different views of the birth of the Israeli State, including the part played by the wealthy Rothschild banking interests and the conflict, which led by design or chaos to the horrible Palestinian exodus. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled the fighting and lost their homes, property and nationality. They became stateless persons living in refugee camps and the long-term impact of this continues to destabilize the Middle East and Israel in particular.
It is ironic that the Jewish people, who often were stateless and living in crammed ghettos in Europe and elsewhere because of anti-Semitism, helped to create similar conditions for the Arabs who lived in Palestine.
Background: David Grüen was born on October 16, 1886 in Plonsk, now Poland but then part of the Russian Empire. An ardent Zionist, in 1904 at the University of Warsaw, Grüen joined the Marxist Poale Zion movement. This organization accepted the Marxist view of history and added Jewish nationalism where a Jewish proletariat would take over the land of Israel. After being arrested several times Grüen moved to Palestine in 1906, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire, and became a leader of Poale Zion along with Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.
In 1912, David Grüen left Palestine for Istanbul to study law and changed his name to David Ben-Gurion. Returning to Palestine in 1914, Ben-Gurion was expelled for political activities and moved to New York City where he again was involved in Zionist political activities. Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi wrote a book titled The Land of Israel Past and Present to promote Zionism to American Jewry.
Near the end of World War One, following the Balfour Declaration in late 1917 wherein Great Britain went on record favoring creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine, Ben-Gurion joined the British Army as part of the Jewish Legion. After the war, Ben-Gurion and his wife and family in New York moved back to Palestine after it came under British control.
Following years of political intrigue and infighting among the numerous Jewish groups in Palestine until 1935, David Ben-Gurion became chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Ben-Gurion continued in this position and power base until Israel was created in 1948.
Ben-Gurion retired from politics in 1970 and lived the rest of his life in a kibbutz in the Negev desert. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century. David Ben-Gurion is a very interesting leader who spent his entire life working as a Zionist for his people.