• Short Summary

    At the age of 86, Israel's elder statesman, David Ben-Gurion, shows little sign of the years of struggle when he was the leading figure in founding the modern state of Israel.

  • Description

    At the age of 86, Israel's elder statesman, David Ben-Gurion, shows little sign of the years of struggle when he was the leading figure in founding the modern state of Israel.

    Since his retirement from public office in 1963, Israel's former Prime Minister has been living in the isolated village of Sade Boqar in the heart of the Nagev Desert.

    David Ben-Gurion came of Eastern European Jewish stock. Born David Green in Plonsk. Poland on 16 October 1886, he was trained for the law until he was 19, when he went to Palestine to work as a farm labourer and trades union organiser.

    At the outbreak of World War I, Ben-Gurion was expelled from Palestine. He went to the United States to form a Jewish volunteer force and returned to Palestine to fight in a Jewish battalion.

    When Palestine was officially mandated to Britain in September 1923, Ben-Gurion entered the political scene by first becoming in 1921 the secretary of the jewish Trades Union (the Histadruth), then chairman in 1933 of the Jewish Agency Executive, the official party in charge of Jewish immigration.

    In the years that followed, Ben-Gurion attempted to launch a vast plan for a Jewish settlement and to negotiate an Arab-Jewish pact. But his efforts failed, and he suffered a bitter blow when Britain issued in 1939 a White Paper rejecting the idea of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine and limiting further jewish immigration.

    Early in 1947, the partition of Palestine was referred to, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Within hours of the announcement, war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews.

    On 14 May 1948, a few hours before the expiry of the British Mandate in Palestine, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the birth of the independent state of Israel at a solemn session of the Jewish National Council. Dr. Chaim Weizman became President, and David Ben-Gurion was named Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

    He held these posts during the war with the Arab League states, and retained them after the elections of 1949 when he became leader of the second Israeli government, a coalition dominated by his own party, the Mapai, or moderate Labour Party.

    Between the end of his first term in office in 1953 and 1963, Ben-Gurion retired from the office of Prime Minister three times. On each occasion, it was due to either a split in his coalition government or within his own party. The climax of these years was the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1956, when the Israeli army inflicted a heavy defeat on the larger and better equipped Egyptian forces in the Sinai Desert. That war was followed by the Anglo-French action at Suez.

    In mid-June 1963, when he seemed to be as active as ever at the age of 76, Ben-Gurion suddenly announced once again his decision to resign his office. He never disclosed his motives, not even to his cabinet colleagues. But this time, the nation was convinced that he had finally decided to retire after 60 years of political struggle.

    With the one exception in 1965, when he got back in the political fray to form a splinter group in defiance of the Mapai leadership, Ben-Gurion held to his word.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA2YSSULRFCAEHJ39AIKUD352XL
    Media URN:
    VLVA2YSSULRFCAEHJ39AIKUD352XL
    Group:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    21/03/1973
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:02:27:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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