• Short Summary

    Scenes from the life of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

    David Ben-Gurion is revered by?

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    Scenes from the life of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

    David Ben-Gurion is revered by his people as the man who brought the modern state of Israel into being in 1948. He was the country's first Prime Minister, a position he occupied for most of the fifteen years before he retired in 1963.

    He was born in 1886 in Tsarist Russia, the son of a Jewish lawyer. He himself was trained for the law, but a t the age of 19 he went to Palestine -- then part of the Turkish Empire -- and began to work as a farm labourer and trades union organiser.

    During the First World War, having been expelled from Palestine by the Turks, Ben-Gurion organised a Jewish volunteer force in the United States, and served in a Jewish battalion in General Allenby's army in Palestine. When Palestine was mandated to Britain, he became secretary of the Jewish Trades Union Federation and a prominent member of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem.

    The agency organised the Jewish war effort in Palestine during the Second World War, and raised volunteer units to serve alongside the British. Ben-Gurion became Chairman of the Agency in 1944, and was a central figure in the renewed conflict with Great Britain after the war. He denounced and disowned the violent Jewish organisations, but held it was the restriction on immigration which had caused the violence.

    In 1948, Ben-Gurion became the first Prime Minister of the new state of Israel and also its Minister of Defence. He held these posts during the war with the Arabs League states and retained them after the elections of 1949 when he became leader of the second Israel Government, a coalition dominated by his own party, the Mapai, or moderate Labour Party. He resigned because of ill-health towards the end of 1953, and remained in retirement for more than a year. But in February, 1955, he returned to office as Minister of Defence, and in the autumn he become Prime Minister again.

    Arab hostility to Israel grew with the rise of Colonel Nasser, and was greatly intensified in 1956 after the arrival in Egypt of big shipments of arms from Eastern Europe. Under Ben-Gurion's authority, the tiny Israeli army took the offensive that summer and inflicted a heavy defeat on the larger and more lavishly equipped Egyptian forces in the Sinai Desert. The Anglo-French action at Suez was to follow.

    This victory did not bring Israel any lasting territorial advantages. In deference to the United Nations her troops soon withdrew from all the captured ground and returned all the prisoners they had taken.

    The elections of November. 1959, brought another victory for the Mapai Party and Ben-Gurion became Prime Minister for the fourth time. He resigned early in 1961, but was back in power at the end of the year. It was not until the summer of 1963 that the end of the year. It was not until the summer of 1963 that he finally withdrew from political life and retired to a collective form in the Negev.

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    Reuters - Gaumont British Newsreel
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    Available on request
    Black & White
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