1886-10-26 to 1973-12-01
Israel, Poland, PalastineDavid Ben-Gurion (born David Grün; 16 October 1886 – 1 December 1973) was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel.
On 7 November 1911, Ben-Gurion arrived in Thessaloniki in order to learn Turkish for his law studies. The city, which had a large Jewish community, impressed Ben-Gurion, who called it "a Jewish city that has no equal in the world". He also realized there that "the Jews were capable of all types of work".
In 1912, he moved to Istanbul, the Ottoman capital, to study law at Istanbul University together with Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, and adopted the Hebrew name Ben-Gurion, after the Jewish leading figure Yosef Ben Gurion from the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans. He also worked as a journalist. Ben-Gurion saw the future as dependent on the Ottoman regime.
During the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, Ben-Gurion instigated a policy of restraint ("Havlagah") in which the Haganah and other Jewish groups did not retaliate for Arab attacks against Jewish civilians, concentrating only on self-defense. In 1937, the Peel Commission recommended partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas and Ben-Gurion supported this policy. This led to conflict with Ze'ev Jabotinsky who opposed partition and as a result, Jabotinsky's supporters split with the Haganah and abandoned Havlagah.
On 14 May 1948, on the last day of the British Mandate, Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the state of Israel. In the Israeli declaration of independence, he stated that the new nation would "uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race".
On 5 June, the Six-Day War began with Operation Focus, an Israeli air attack that decimated the Egyptian air force. Israel then captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria in a series of campaigns.
On 18 November 1973, Ben-Gurion suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and was taken to Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, Ramat Gan. During the first week following the stroke, he received visits from many high-ranking officials, including Prime Minister Golda Meir. His condition began deteriorating on 23 November, and he died on 1 December at age 87.