He was born David Gruen in Płońsk, Poland, and as an ardent Zionist moved to Palestine in 1906. He first worked as a journalist and adopted his Hebrew name Ben-Gurion as he began his political career.
Ben-Gurion was at the political forefront of the Labor Zionist movement during the formative years leading to the creation of the Zionist State. He led the Zionists during its campaign against the government of the British Mandate of Palestine and, except for nearly two years of interruption between 1953 - 1955, became Prime Minister on January 25, 1949 and served until 1963.
In 1953 Ben-Gurion announced his intention to withdraw from government and settle in the Kibbutz Sde-Boker, in the Israeli Negev. Not quite quitting his governmental duties, he nevertheless resided there throughout 1954.
Ben-Gurion was among the founders of the Israeli Labour Party which governed Israel during the first three decades of its existence.
During the pre-statehood period in Palestine, Ben-Gurion represented the official Jewish establishment, with whose Haganah organization the British dealt with frequently, sometimes in order to arrest more radical groups involved in terrorism against the government. He was also involved in occasional violent terrorism during the short period of time his organization cooperated with Menachem Begin's Irgun. However, during the first weeks of the establishment of the Zionist entity, it was decided to disband all paramilitary terrorist groups and replace them with a single formal army. To that end, Ben-Gurion gave the order to bomb and sink a ship named "Altalena", which carried ammunition for the Irgun (also called Etzel) terror group. Zionist Jews argue internally about it to this day.
- ”One man could have saved the world, but, unfortunately, he missed his opportunity. That man was Lenin.”
- ”In Jerusalem, the United Nations (a truly United Nations) will build a shrine of the Prophets to serve the federated union of all continents; this will be the seat of the Supreme Court of Mankind, to settle all controversies among the among the federated continents.”
- ”I support compulsory transfer. I do not see in it anything immoral [...] The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”– 1937
- David Ben-Gurion, Amram M. Ducovny: David Ben-Gurion, in his own words. Fleet Press Corp. 1969, p. 116. (Google-Books)
- Tribune Volume 72, Tribune publications, Ltd. 2008, p. 15. (Google-Books)
- The Independent, 28 April 2008: Johann Hari: Israel is suppressing a secret it must face