About Ben-Gurion

About Ben-Gurion

1886

Ben-Gurion is born in Plonsk, Poland. He is the sixth child of Scheindel and Avigdor Grün.

1900 

Ben-Gurion establishes the Zionist organization ‘Ezra’ with fellow Jewish youth, in order to enhance the status and use of the Hebrew language in his town.

Members of ‘Ezra’ insisted on speaking Hebrew and established Hebrew study groups for young Jewish boys from impoverished families. Despite resistance from religious leadership in the community, around 200 boys participated in their activities.

1906

Ben-Gurion immigrates to Eretz Yisrael. On the day of his arrival, he walks to Petach Tikva (Jewish rural settlement). He begins doing agricultural work in Petach Tikva, the Rishon Le’Zion vineyard, and Kfar Saba.

Ben-Gurion is elected as a member of the "Poalei Zion" Central Committee and participates in drafting the Party’s political platform.

1907 

Travels up to the Galilee, devoting himself to agricultural work in the settlement of Sejera.

1910 

Elected to join the editorial board of the Poalei Zion periodical He’achdut at the Poalei Zion conference. Signs his first article in the periodical with the last name ‘Ben-Gurion.’

1912

Moves to Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, which ruled Eretz Yisrael at the time, and studies law in order to represent Jews in the region who are being persecuted by Turkish authorities.

1914 

Ben-Gurion arrives in Eretz Yisrael for summer break and witnesses the outbreak of WWI.

The Turks expel Ben-Gurion to the city of Alexandria along with his friend Yitzchak Ben-Zvi due to their Zionist activity. They travel to the US and recruit Jews to the Poalei Zion party. While in the US, Ben-Gurion meets Paula Monbaz and they marry.

1917

Following the Balfour Declaration, which announced British support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi organize a movement of American Jewish volunteers to join the British army as a Hebrew battalion. Ben-Gurion volunteers as well and returns to his people in Israel.

1919

Ben-Gurion and his friends establish a new party – "Ahdut Ha'Avoda" (lit. ‘labor unity’), a merger of Poalei Zion and additional factions.

1921

Ben-Gurion is elected Secretary of the General Trade Union in Eretz Yisrael—the Histadrut—and becomes its most prominent figure.

1931

Ben-Gurion’s party Ahdut Ha’Avoda unites with the "Ha’Poel Ha’Zair" party, establishing MAPAI – the Eretz Yisrael workers' party.

1933

Ben-Gurion is elected as a member of the Zionist Executive – the top echelon of the Zionist movement. 

1935

Ben-Gurion is elected Chairman of the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency, and becomes a leader of the Zionist movement along with its President – Chaim Weizmann.

1937 

At the Zionist Congress, Ben-Gurion leads the decision to accept the proposal made by the Peel Commission, the British Royal Commission of Inquiry, to divide Eretz Yisrael into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Due to Arab objection, no action is taken.

1939

Upon publication of the British "White Paper," which limited Jewish immigration and settlement in Eretz Yisrael, Ben-Gurion defines the primary objectives of the struggle against the British: increasing illegal immigration – i.e. ‘Aliya Bet’ – and establishing settlements in certain areas despite the legal prohibition of British rule.

With the outbreak of WWII, Ben-Gurion coins the phrase "We must help the British fight the War as if there was no 'White Paper,' and fight against the 'White Paper' as if there was no War."

1942

Whilst in the US, Ben-Gurion initiates the "Biltmore Conference" that produces the "Biltmore Program," which declares that the ultimate goal of Zionism is establishing a Jewish commonwealth in Eretz Yisrael.

1945

As WWII comes to an end, Ben-Gurion visits the Displaced Persons camps in Europe and is horrified to discover the condition of Holocaust survivors.

1946 

At the first post-WWII Zionist Congress, Ben-Gurion adds the defense portfolio to his many responsibilities, along with his role as head of the Jewish Agency. This was a new portfolio that involved preparing Hagana forces for war. Even prior to this, Ben-Gurion conducts an arms-deal and acquires weapons and ammunition.

1948

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declares the establishment of the State of Israel. He is elected the head of the provisional government of Israel and continues to serve as Defense Minister.

1949

In the first government elections of the State of Israel, Ben-Gurion’s party, MAPAI, wins the majority of votes and Ben-Gurion assembles the new government. He continues to serve as Defense Minister.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world begin immigrating to Israel. The government, headed by Ben-Gurion, goes to tremendous lengths to absorb them. Temporary transit camps are constructed for immigration absorption called ma’abarot. Within three years, the population of Israel doubles in size – an unprecedented historical phenomenon.

1953

Ben-Gurion suddenly resigns from his role as Prime Minister and relocates to Sde Boker in the Negev.

1955 

Ben-Gurion resumes his role as Defense Minister at the end of the year, and is re elected as Prime Minister of Israel.

1956

Ben-Gurion establishes alliances with France and Britain, launching Operation Kadesh, during which Israel conquers half of the Sinai Peninsula. Due to pressure from Allied powers, Ben-Gurion orders withdrawal from all conquered territories.

1959  

Ben-Gurion leads the MAPAI party to electoral victory, winning 47 of the 120 possible mandates.

1961

Ben-Gurion resigns from office, only to resume the role of Prime Minister and Defense Minister post-elections.

1963

Ben-Gurion resigns from the government but continues to be involved in political activity.

1965

Ben-Gurion participates in establishing RAFI, ‘the Israeli workers’ list,’ along with other MAPAI members. The Party wins ten seats in the Knesset, the israeli parliament, during the elections. Ben-Gurion himself serves as one of the ten members.

1969

Following the merge of RAFI with MAPAI and Ahdut Ha’Avodah, Ben-Gurion establishes the "State List" and is elected to the seventh Israeli Knesset.

1970

Ben-Gurion resigns from the Knesset and politics as a whole.

1973

Ben-Gurion passed away at the age of 87 and is buried alongside his wife Paula at the Midreshet Sde Boker burial site (later renamed Midreshet Ben-Gurion).