David Ben-Gurion

(1886-1973) A Jewish Israeli political figure. Of Polish origin, Ben-Gurion immigrated to Palestine in 1906. Known as "Israel’s founding father," Ben-Gurion was a key figure in the establishment of the State of Israel. Prior to Israel's establishment, Ben-Gurion was the head of the World Zionist Organization, secretary-general of the Jewish trade union Histadrut, and chairman of the Jewish Agency, making him the de-facto leader of the Jewish population in Palestine. It was Ben-Gurion who proclaimed Israel's independence on May 14 1948, and he became Israel’s first and longest serving Prime Minister (1948-1953 and 1955-1963) as a member of the Mapai party, which later became the Labor party. Ben-Gurion was largely responsible for breaking up the different Jewish militia groups and merging them into one unified army. Ben-Gurion spearheaded an active campaign to bring Diaspora Jews to Israel, greatly increasing Israel’s Jewish population in the first five years of its existence. Ben-Gurion’s policies during the 1948 War were also responsible for much of the depopulation and destruction of Palestinian villages. Ben-Gurion led Israel, alongside France and the UK, to the 1956 War with Egypt. Documents released in 2015 have revealed overtly racist statements from Ben-Gurion, both towards Arabs and Mizrahi Jews. See "Newly released documents show a darker side of Ben-Gurion," Gidi Weitz, Ha’aretz, April 24, 2015. See also "What Israeli Historians Say about the 1948 Ethnic Cleansing," Charley Reese, the Orlando Sentinel, September 1999.

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