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David Ben-Gurion
דָּוִד בֶּן-גּוּרִיּוֹן


In office
14 May 1948 – 24 January 1954
Succeeded by Moshe Sharett
In office
3 November 1955 – 26 June 1963
Preceded by Moshe Sharett
Succeeded by Levi Eshkol

Born 16 October 1886(1886-10-16)
Płońsk, Russian Empire
Died 1 December 1973 (aged 87)
Israel
Political party Mapai, Rafi, National List
Religion Secular Judaism
Signature

About this sound David Ben-Gurion (Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן-גּוּרִיּוֹן‎, born David Grün on 16 October 1886, died 1 December 1973) was the first Prime Minister of Israel. Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, culminated in his instrumental role in the founding of the state of Israel. After leading Israel to victory in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion helped build the state institutions and oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. Upon retiring from political life in 1970, he moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where he lived until his death. Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

Contents

Early life

Ben-Gurion was born in Płońsk, Congress Poland which was then part of the Russian Empire. His father, Avigdor Grün, was a lawyer and a leader in the Hovevei Zion movement. His mother, Scheindel, died when he was 11 years old.

Ben-Gurion in his Jewish Legion uniform in 1918.

Ben-Gurion grew up to be an ardent Zionist. As a student at the University of Warsaw, he joined the Marxist Poale Zion movement in 1904. He was arrested twice during the Russian Revolution of 1905. He immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1906, shocked by the pogroms and anti-Semitism of life in Eastern Europe, and became a major leader of Poale Zion with Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

In Palestine, he first worked in agriculture, picking oranges. In 1909 he volunteered with HaShomer, a force of volunteers who helped guard isolated Jewish agricultural communities. On November 7, 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," from rich businessmen and progessors, to merchants, craftsmen and porters.[1]

In 1912, he moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul), the then Ottoman capital, to study law at Istanbul University together with Ben-Zvi, and adopted the Hebrew name Ben-Gurion, after the medieval historian Yosef ben Gurion. He also worked as a journalist. In 1915, Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi were expelled from Palestine, still under Ottoman rule, for their political activities.

Settling in New York City in 1915, he met Russian-born Paula Munweis. They were married in 1917, and had three children. He joined the British army in 1918 as part of the 38th Battalion of the Jewish Legion (following the Balfour Declaration in November 1917). He and his family returned to Palestine after World War I following its capture by the British from the Ottoman Empire.

Zionist leadership

After the death of theorist Ber Borochov, the left-wing and right-wing of Poale Zion split in 1919 with Ben-Gurion and his friend Berl Katznelson leading the right faction of the Labor Zionist movement. The Right Poale Zion formed Ahdut HaAvoda with Ben-Gurion as leader in 1919. In 1920 he assisted in the formation and subsequently became general secretary of the Histadrut, the Zionist Labor Federation in Palestine.

In 1930, Hapoel Hatzair (founded by A. D. Gordon in 1905) and Ahdut HaAvoda joined forces to create Mapai, the more right-wing Zionist labor party (it was still a left-wing organization, but not as far left as other factions) under Ben-Gurion's leadership. The left-wing of Labour Zionism was represented by Mapam. Labor Zionism became the dominant tendency in the World Zionist Organization and in 1935 Ben-Gurion became chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, a role he kept until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

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.

The Ben Gurion House, where he lived from 1931 on, and for part of each year after 1953, is now an museum in Tel Aviv.

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Palestinian Arabs

Ben-Gurion recognized the strong attachment of Palestinian Arabs to the land but hoped that this would be overcome in time. Nahum Goldman, president of the World Jewish Congress, wrote that in a conversation about "the Arab problem" in 1956, Ben-Gurion stated: "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country ... There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it is simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army."[2] Goldman criticized Ben-Gurion for what he viewed as Ben-Gurion's confrontational approach to the Arab world. Goldman wrote that "Ben-Gurion is the man principally responsible for the anti-Arab policy, because it was he who moulded the thinking of generations of Israelis."[2]

The view that Ben-Gurion's assessment of Arab feelings led him to emphasize the need to build up Jewish military strength is supported by Simha Flapan, who quoted Ben-Gurion as stating in 1938: "I believe in our power, in our power which will grow, and if it will grow agreement will come..."[3]

British

The British 1939 White paper stipulated that Jewish immigration to Palestine was to be limited to 15,000 a year for the first five years, and would subsequently be contingent on Arab consent. Restrictions were also placed on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs. After this Ben-Gurion changed his policy towards the British, stating: "Peace in Palestine is not the best situation for thwarting the policy of the White Paper".[4] Ben-Gurion believed a peaceful solution with the Arabs had no chance and soon began preparing the Yishuv for war. According to Teveth 'through his campaign to mobilize the Yishuv in support of the British war effort, he strove to build the nucleus of a "Hebrew army", and his success in this endeavor later brought victory to Zionism in the struggle to establish a Jewish state.'[5]

During the Second World War, Ben-Gurion encouraged the Jews of Palestine to volunteer for the British army. He famously told Jews to "support the British as if there is no White Paper and oppose the White Paper as if there is no war".[6] About 10% of the Jewish population of Palestine volunteered for the British army, including many women. At the same time Ben-Gurion helped the illegal immigration of thousands of European Jewish refugees to Palestine during a period when the British placed heavy restrictions on Jewish immigration.

In 1946 Ben-Gurion agreed that the Haganah could cooperate with Menachem Begin's Irgun in fighting the British. Ben-Gurion initially agreed to Begin's plan to carry out the 1946 King David Hotel bombing, with the intent of embarrassing (rather than killing) the British military stationed there. However, when the risks of mass killing became apparent, Ben-Gurion told Begin to call the operation off; Begin refused.[7]

Illegal Jewish migration led to pressure on the British to either allow Jewish migration (as required by the League of Nations Mandate) or quit - they did the latter in 1948, not changing their restrictions, on the heels of a United Nations resolution partitioning the territory between the Jews and Arabs.

Religious parties and the status quo

In September 1947 Ben-Gurion reached a status quo agreement with the Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party. He sent a letter to Agudat Yisrael stating that while he is committed to establishing a non-theocratic state with freedom of religion he is promising that the Shabbat would be Israel's official day of rest, that in State provided kitchens there will be access to Kosher food, that every effort will be made to provide a single jurisdiction for Jewish family affairs, and that each sector would be granted autonomy in the sphere of education, provided minimum standards regarding the curriculum are observed[8].

To a large extent this letter (or agreement) provided a framework for religious affairs in Israel (e.g. no civil marriages, just as in Mandate times) and is often a benchmark to which the status is compared.

Military leadership and 1948 Palestinian Exodus

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Ben-Gurion oversaw the nascent state's military operations. During the first weeks of Israel's independence, he ordered all militias to be replaced by one national army, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). To that end, Ben-Gurion used a firm hand during the Altalena Affair, a ship carrying arms purchased by the Irgun. He insisted that all weapons be handed over to the IDF. When fighting broke out on the Tel Aviv beach he ordered to take it by force and shell the ship. Sixteen Irgun fighters and three IDF soldiers were killed in this battle. Following the policy of a unified military force, he also ordered that the Palmach headquarters be disbanded and its units be integrated with the rest of the IDF, to the chagrin of many of its members.

As head of the Jewish Agency, Ben-Gurion was de-facto leader of Palestine's Jews even before the state was declared. In this position, Ben-Gurion played a major role in the 1948 War and the resulting Palestinian exodus. When the IDF archives and others were opened in the late 1980s, scholars started to reconsider the events and the role of Ben Gurion[9].

Founding of Israel

David Ben-Gurion proclaiming independence beneath a large portrait of Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism

On 14 May, on the last day 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 race, creed or gender."

Prime Minister of Israel

David Ben-Gurion speaking at the Knesset, 1957
Graves of Paula and David Ben Gurion, Midreshet Ben-Gurion

After leading Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion was elected Prime Minister of Israel when his Mapai (Labour) party won the largest number of seats in the first national election, held on February 14, 1949. He would remain in that post until 1963, except for a period of nearly two years between 1954 and 1955. As Premier, he oversaw the establishment of the state's institutions. He presided over various national projects aimed at the rapid development of the country and its population: Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift of Jews from Arab countries, the construction of the National Water Carrier, rural development projects and the establishment of new towns and cities. In particular, he called for pioneering settlement in outlying areas, especially in the Negev.

Ben-Gurion had a major role in the military operations that led to the Qibya massacre in October, 1953. Later in 1953 he announced his intention to withdraw from government and was replaced by Moshe Sharett, who was elected the second Prime Minister of Israel in January, 1954.

Ben-Gurion returned to office in 1955 assuming the post of Defense Minister and was soon re-elected prime minister. When Ben-Gurion returned to government, Israeli forces responded more aggressively to Palestinian guerilla attacks from Gaza—still under Egyptian rule. The growing cycle of violence led Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser to build up his arms with the help of the Soviet Union. The Israelis responded by arming themselves with help from France. Nasser blocked the passage of Israeli ships through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. In July 1956, America and Britain withdrew their offer to fund the Aswan High Dam project on the Nile and a week later Nasser ordered the nationalization of the French and British controlled Suez Canal.[citation needed] Ben-Gurion collaborated with the British and French to plan the 1956 Sinai War in which Israel stormed the Sinai Peninsula thus giving British and French forces a pretext to intervene in order to secure the Suez Canal. Intervention by the United States and the United Nations forced the British and French to back down and Israel to withdraw from Sinai in return for promises of free navigation through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. A UN force was stationed between Egypt and Israel.

Ben-Gurion stepped down as prime minister for what he described as personal reasons in 1963, and chose Levi Eshkol as his successor. A year later a rivalry developed between the two on the issue of the Lavon Affair. Ben-Gurion broke with the party in June 1965 over Eshkol's handling of the Lavon affair and formed a new party, Rafi which won ten seats in the Knesset. After the Six-Day War, Ben-Gurion was in favour of returning all the occupied territories apart from Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Mount Hebron.[10]

In 1968, when Rafi merged with Mapai to form the Alignment, Ben-Gurion refused to reconcile with his old party. He favoured electoral reforms in which a constituency-based system would replace what he saw as a chaotic proportional representation method. He formed another new party, the National List, which won four seats in the 1969 election. Ben-Gurion retired from politics in 1970 and spent his last years living in a modest home on the kibbutz.

Ben-Gurion and the Negev

Ben-Gurion believed that the sparsely populated and barren Negev desert offered a great opportunity for the Jews to settle in Palestine with minimal obstruction of the Arab population. He set a personal example by choosing to settle in kibbutz Sde Boker at the centre of the Negev and established the National Water Carrier to bring water to the area. He saw the struggle to make the desert bloom as an area where the Jewish people could make a major contribution to humanity as a whole.[11]

Ben-Gurion is buried alongside his wife Paula at a site in Midreshet Ben-Gurion in the Negev desert.

Awards

  • In both 1951 and 1971, Ben-Gurion was awarded the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.[12]

Commemoration

Sculpture of David Ben-Gurion at Ben Gurion International Airport, named in his honor

References

  1. ^ http://www.oswego.edu/~baloglou/misc/sephardim.html and Gila Hadar, "Space and Time in Salonika on the Eve of World War II and the Expulsion and Extermination of Salonika Jewry", Yalkut Moseshet 4, Winter 2006
  2. ^ a b Nahum Goldman, 'The Jewish Paradox', translated by Steve Cox, 1978, ISBN 0-448-15166-9, p. 98, p. 100, p. 99
  3. ^ Simha Flapan, 'Zionism and the Palestinians', 1979, ISBN 0-85664-499-4, p. 142-144
  4. ^ S. Teveth, 1985, 'Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs', p. 199
  5. ^ S. Teveth, 1985, 'Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs', p. 200
  6. ^ Ben-Gurion's road to the State Ben-Gurion Archives (Hebrew)
  7. ^ . Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 523.
  8. ^ The Status Quo Letter, in Hebrew
  9. ^ See eg Benny Morris, the Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited
  10. ^ Randolph Churchill, Winston S.Churchill, The Six Day War,1967 p.199 citing 'The World at One' BBC radio, 12 July 1967
  11. ^ Importance of the Negev David Ben-Gurion, 17 January 1955 (Hebrew)
  12. ^ "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website". http://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/Hebrew/_MultimediaServer/Documents/12516738.pdf. 

External links

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
(none)
Chairman, Provisional State Council
14 - 17 May 1948
Succeeded by
Chaim Weizmann
Preceded by
(none)
Prime Minister of Israel
1948 – 1953
Succeeded by
Moshe Sharett
Preceded by
Moshe Sharett
Prime Minister of Israel
1955 – 1963
Succeeded by
Levi Eshkol
Party political offices
Preceded by
(none)
Leader of Mapai
1948–1954
Succeeded by
Moshe Sharett
Preceded by
Moshe Sharett
Leader of Mapai
1955–1963
Succeeded by
Levi Eshkol
Preceded by
new party
Leader of Rafi
1965–1968
Succeeded by
ceased to exist
Preceded by
new party
Leader of the National List
1968–1970
Succeeded by
Yigael Hurvitz


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.

David Ben-Gurion (Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן גּוּרִיּוֹן, October 16, 1886December 1, 1973) was the first Prime Minister of Israel. He was a leading Zionist campaigner before the establishment of the Jewish state, and played an instrumental role in Israel when the British Mandate in Palestine ended. He carried Israel through the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and lead the country in its first years of existence, not retiring until 1970.

Contents

Sourced

There is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.
The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution in a concerted effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
To maintain the status quo will not do. We have set up a dynamic State, bent upon creation and reform, building and expansion.
We need to anticipate the character of the times, discern embryonic forms emergent or renewed, and clear the path for circumstantial change.
We kept to our dedication and our missions. By these will the State be judged, by the moral character it imparts to its citizens, by the human values determining its inner and outward relations, and by its fidelity, in thought and act, to the supreme behest: "and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Here is crystallized the eternal law of Judaism, and all the written ethics in the world can say no more.
The most dangerous enemy to Israel’s security is the intellectual inertia of those who are responsible for security.
  • Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can bridge it… We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs.
    • Written statement ( June 1919), as quoted in Time magazine (24 July 2006)
  • Under no circumstances must we touch land belonging to fellahs or worked by them. Only if a fellah leaves his place of settlement, should we offer to buy his land, at an appropriate price.
    • Written statement (1920), as quoted in Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs : From Peace to War (1985) by Shabtai Teveth, p. 32.
  • We do not wish, we do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations are built upon the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.
    • Letter to his son Amos (5 October 1937), as quoted in Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion: The Burning Ground; and Fabricating Israeli History: The 'New Historians (2000) by Efraim Karsh; this has been extensively misquoted as "[We] must expel Arabs and take their places" after appearing in this form in The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (1987) by Benny Morris, p. 25.
  • The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan: one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today, but the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.
    • Speech in 1937, accepting a British proposal for partition of Palestine which created a potential Jewish majority state, as quoted in New Outlook (April 1977)
  • Terrorism benefits the Arabs, it may lay waste the Yishuv and shake Zionism. But to follow in the Arabs' footsteps and ape their deeds is to be blind to the gulf between us. Our aims and theirs run counter: methods calculated to further theirs, are ruinous to us.
    • "On three fronts" (3 August 1938) as quoted in Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 91
  • From Jewish terrorism against Arabs it is a short step to Jewish terrorism against Jews.
    • "On three fronts" (3 August 1938) as quoted in Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 91
  • We must support the army as though there were no White Paper, and fight the White Paper as though there were no war.
    • Statement (12 September 1939), quoted in Ben-Gurion : The Burning Ground, 1886-1948 (1987) by Shabtai Teveth, p. 717
    • Variants:
    • Fight the war as if there was no White Paper, and the White Paper as if there was no war.
      • As quoted in A History of Palestine from 135 A.D. to Modern Times (1949) by James William Parkes, p. 342
    • "We shall fight the War as if there was no White Paper, and the White Paper, as if there was no War."
      • As quoted in Pioneer (1968) by Deborah Dayan, p. 83
  • We accepted the UN resolution, but the Arabs did not. They are preparing to make war on us. If we defeat them and capture western Galilee or territory on both sides of the road to Jerusalem, these areas will become part of the state. Why should we obligate ourselves to accept boundaries that in any case the Arabs don't accept?
  • We extend the hand of peace and good-neighborliness to all the States around us and to their people, and we call upon them to cooperate in mutual helpfulness with the independent Jewish nation in its Land. The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution in a concerted effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
    • Israel's Proclamation of Independence, read on (14 May 1948)
  • Even amidst the violent attacks launched against us for months past, we call upon the sons of the Arab people dwelling in Israel to keep the peace and to play their part in building the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its institutions, provisional and permanent.
    • Israel's Proclamation of Independence, read on (14 May 1948)
  • I have just come back from the internment camps of Europe where I looked on the survivors of the Nazi charnel houses. I was in Dachau and Belsen. I saw chambers where hundreds of Jews were throttled every day. They were brought naked, as if to bathe, and the Nazis would peer through peepholes and watch them writhing in their death agonies.
    • An address at Hebrew University (28 November 1945), as quoted in Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 151
  • Our code must be framed to speed the absorption of immigrants into our economy, culture and society; to fuse the returning tribes into a homogeneous national and cultural unit; to forward our physical and moral healing and the cleansing of our lives from the trivia and dross which gathered upon us in dependence and exile. To maintain the status quo will not do. We have set up a dynamic State, bent upon creation and reform, building and expansion. Laws which lag behind development, merely a digest of experience and the lessons of the past, are useless to us. We need to anticipate the character of the times, discern embryonic forms emergent or renewed, and clear the path for circumstantial change.
    • Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 419; a portion of this paragraph has sometimes been misquoted as: "To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion."
  • We have rebelled against all controls and religions, all laws and judgments which the mighty sought to foist upon us. We kept to our dedication and our missions. By these will the State be judged, by the moral character it imparts to its citizens, by the human values determining its inner and outward relations, and by its fidelity, in thought and act, to the supreme behest: "and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Here is crystallized the eternal law of Judaism, and all the written ethics in the world can say no more. The State will be worthy of its name only if its systems, social and economic, political and legal, are based upon these imperishable words. They are more than a formal precept which can be construed as passive or negative: not to deprive, not to rob, not to oppress, not to hurt.
    • Rebirth and Destiny of Israel (1954), p. 419.
  • In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.
    • Interview on CBS, (5 October 1956)
  • I was in Dachau and Belsen. I saw chambers where hundreds of Jews were put to death every day. ... I saw the gallows in Belsen where Jews were hanged each Jewish holy day, while the rest were paraded to witness the ghastly punishments of men who had perhaps come a few minutes late to their daily grind. ... It is beyond mortal power to bring back to life six million who were burned, asphyxiated and buried alive by the Nazis. But our six million brothers and sisters who went to their deaths have bequeathed us a sacred injunction: to prevent such a disaster overtaking the Jewish peoples in the future and to do so by the Jewish people being an independent people in its own land, capable of resisting any foe or enemy by its own strength.
    • Letter to an unnamed American friend, as quoted in David Ben-Gurion, in His Own Words (1969) edited by Amram M. Ducovny, p. 57 - 60; similar remarks appeared in an address at Hebrew University (28 November 1945)
  • We will make a great and awful mistake if we fail to settle Hebron, neighbor and predecessor of Jerusalem, with a large Jewish settlement, constantly growing and expanding, very soon. This will also be a blessing to the Arab neighbors. Hebron is worthy to be Jerusalem's sister.
  • For many of us, anti-Semitic feeling had little to do with our dedication [to Zionism]. I personally never suffered anti-Semitic persecution. Plonsk was remarkably free of it ... Nevertheless, and I think this very significant, it was Plonsk that sent the highest proportion of Jews to Eretz Israel from any town in Poland of comparable size. We emigrated not for negative reasons of escape but for the positive purpose of rebuilding a homeland ... Life in Plonsk was peaceful enough. There were three main communities: Russians, Jews and Poles. ... The number of Jews and Poles in the city were roughly equal, about five thousand each. The Jews, however, formed a compact, centralized group occupying the innermost districts whilst the Poles were more scattered, living in outlying areas and shading off into the peasantry. Consequently, when a gang of Jewish boys met a Polish gang the latter would almost inevitably represent a single suburb and thus be poorer in fighting potential than the Jews who even if their numbers were initially fewer could quickly call on reinforcements from the entire quarter. Far from being afraid of them, they were rather afraid of us. In general, however, relations were amicable, though distant.
    • Memoirs : David Ben-Gurion (1970), p. 36
  • I don't understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.
    • As quoted in The Jewish Paradox : A personal memoir (1978) by Nahum Goldmann (translated by Steve Cox), p. 99.
  • The assets of the Jewish National Home must be created exclusively through our own work, for only the product of the Hebrew labor can serve as the national estate.
    • As quoted in Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs : From Peace to War (1985) by Shabtai Teveth, p. 66
  • If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel.
  • Let me first tell you one thing: It doesn't matter what the world says about Israel; it doesn't matter what they say about us anywhere else. The only thing that matters is that we can exist here on the land of our forefathers. And unless we show the Arabs that there is a high price to pay for murdering Jews, we won't survive.
    • As quoted by Ariel Sharon, in the documentary The 50 Years War : Israel & The Arabs (1999), this advice was given to him by Ben-Gurion after the controversial raid on Qibya.
  • Regarding the Galilee, Mr. [Moshe] Sharett already told you that about 100,000 Arabs still now live in the pocket of Galilee. Let us assume that a war breaks out. Then we will be able to cleanse the entire area of Central Galilee, including all its refugees, in one stroke. In this context let me mention some mediators who offered to give us the Galilee without war. What they meant was the populated Galilee. They didn’t offer us the empty Galilee, which we could have only by means of a war. Therefore if a war is extended to cover the whole of Palestine, our greatest gain will be the Galilee. It is because without any special military effort which might imperil other fronts, only by using the troops already assigned for the task, we could accomplish our aim of cleansing the Galilee.
  • Um-Shmoom.
    • Transliteration of Hebrew statement meaning "The UN—Blah!", quoted in Israel : From War to Peace?: The First Hundred Years (2000) by Efraim Karsh, p. 40
  • The most dangerous enemy to Israel’s security is the intellectual inertia of those who are responsible for security.
    • Quoted in Supreme Command : Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime (2002) by Eliot A. Cohen
  • If an expert says it can't be done, get another expert.
    • As quoted in Words from the Wise : Over 6,000 of the Smartest Things Ever Said (2007) by Rosemarie Jarski, p. 170

Disputed

  • Anyone who believes you can't change history has never tried to write his memoirs.
    • Attributed to Ben-Gurion in A Call to Action : The Handbook to Unite and Ignite America's Betrayed and Imperiled Public (2004) by A. T. Theodore, p. 6, but earlier published as a saying of unknown authorship in Uncommon Sense : The World's Fullest Compendium of Wisdom (1987) by Joseph Telushkin, p. 204

Misattributed

  • I fight, therefore I exist.
    • No clear citations of this to Ben-Gurion have been located. A very early variant of this idea, (which plays upon the statement of René Descartes, "Cogito ergo sum" — "I think, therefore I exist"), is found in "Die Weimarer Reichsverfassung (1922) by Leo Wittmayer, P. 255, a work about the Weimar Constitution, where he speaks against the attitude, while stating it in Latin: "bello ergo sum."

External links

Wikipedia
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Simple English

File:Ben Gurion
David Ben-Gurion (1959)

David Ben-Gurion, born David Grün on 16 October 1886, died 1 December 1973) was the first Prime Minister of Israel. After leading Israel to victory in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion helped build the state institutions. He retired from political life in 1970 and moved to Sde Boker, where he lived until his death.

After he died, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the Century.

Other websites

English Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

rue:Давід Бен-Ґуріон


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