A boy was born on the 16th of October, 1886 in Plonsk, a small town within the walls of the Russian empire which is now located in Poland. This boy would grow up to become the man known as David Ben-Gurion who would eventually serve as the prime figure as far as Israel’s independence is concerned.
Born to a Zionist home, he was educated in the school founded by his father. By the time he was 18 years of age, he had become a teacher in a Jewish school in Warsaw while also serving as a leader for a Zionist youth group.
His passion for Zionism led him to occupy various leadership roles in different Jewish groups at the time. His accomplishments as a Jewish crusader who would later proclaim the independence of Israel could be considered as the foundation that led to the veneration he garnered throughout his lifetime.
The life Ben-Gurion lived is considered exciting and well-spent. Because the man is worth the books, below are 8 interesting facts about David Ben-Gurion, the founding father and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
8 Interesting Facts About David Ben-Gurion
1. Greatness runs in his family
David Ben-Gurion was born to the family of Avigdor Gruen. His father was a famous lawyer and one of the powerful influencers that were living in the small town of Plonsk. He was considered an ardent Zionist. It is safe to assume that young Ben-Gurion developed his interest in Zionism because of his father’s influence, an important fact about David Ben-Gurion.
For instance, Avigdor Gruen was one of the leaders of a movement known as “Lovers of Zion.” The campaign was known for encouraging the oppressed Jews living in Eastern Europe. The movement also advocated for the return of all Jews to their homeland, Israel. So, the apple did not fall far from the tree.
2. He spent time in jail
At age 14, Ben-Gurion, together with his two friends, formed a club whose aim was to promote the idea of emigration. During his student years at the University of Warsaw, he joined Poalei Zion and in 1905, participated in the revolution that condemned the Tsarist government. He was soon arrested. Later, when he was released, he went to Palestine.
3. His original name was David Gruen
He was named David Gruen at birth. However, in 1906, he arrived in Palestine and immediately became politically active in the Poalei Zion party. Due to his drive toward the ideology, he was soon made the chairman of the party. It was during this time that he changed his name to David Ben-Gurion, to adopt that of a Jerusalem defender who had died, an interesting fact about David Ben-Gurion. In his practice of Zionism, he continued to push for the return of the Jews to Palestine.
4. He was deported from Jerusalem and had to live in the US
When the First World War broke out, Ben-Gurion was deported in the year 1914. Upon deportation, he traveled with his close friend Yitzhak Ben Zvi to the United States until the 1917 Balfour Declaration. This declaration proclaimed that the Jews had the right to acquire Palestine as a national homeland.
Hearing this, Ben-Gurion gathered passionate Jews who would confront the Turks to take back Palestine. He arrived in August 1918 with his legion of Jews to fight a war which, unfortunately, ended within a short period as they were defeated.
5. David’s wife was not a zionist
Perhaps we could say his zionist practice had little influence on his marital ideals. After he was deported during the outbreak of World War I, He traveled to the United States with his very close friend. While paying a visit to his friend in New York, he met a lady, Paula Munweis who was serving as a trainee in the Jewish Nursing School in Brooklyn. They got married in 1917.
Paula was not a Zionist believer. She was instead considered an anarchist. Even though her political views were against that of her husband, she moved back to Palestine with him and had three children: Geula, Amos, and Renana, a fun fact about David Ben-Gurion.
6. His stubbornness was one of his greatest assets
Ben-Gurion and his men remained adamant and opposed the regulations on immigration and land sales. He was not ready to watch Jews get deprived of the chance to visit Palestine and live their lives as proud citizens. His last struggle for independence came against the Palestinian Arabs.
Because of the failed attempts to secure a peaceful reconciliation with the Arabs, war became inevitable. On May 14, 1985, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the restoration of the State of Israel, ending the 2000-year exile of the Jews. After the proclamation, he led a victorious battle of independence against the Arab League nations.
7. He also acted as Israel’s Minister of Defense
After his successful struggle against the British policy and his war with the Arab nations, the State of Israel was established and David Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister. He was also acting as the Minister of Defense at that time, and he ensured that the underground armies that fought the independent war were transformed to become a national army. This was important for a developing and maturing Israel.
8. David retired from office twice
As Prime Minister, he developed many policies to keep the new State of Israel protected and revered throughout the world. Despite his enthusiasm, he had to retire momentarily from politics. After stepping down from his office in 1954, he returned as Prime Minister again in 1955.
In June of 1963, he finally resigned as Prime Minister for “personal reasons.” There was widespread speculation that his resignation was attributed to the conflict that occurred within his party. He washed his hands off anything that had to do with active politics in 1970, an important fact about David Ben-Gurion.
As a result of all his exploits, he was revered as the father of the nation of Israel. As a posthumous recognition, Ben-Gurion was named among the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century listed in the Time magazine.
David Ben-Gurion’s vision for the Jewish people was what eventually birthed the new State of Israel. His pragmatic approach to unify Zionism, politics, and the military proved to be invaluable. Indeed, the impact of David Ben-Gurion will forever be remembered.
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