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David Ben-Gurion, Founder of Israel Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

“Who has ever heard of such a thing? And who ever sees such things? Can a country be born in a single day, or can a nation be brought forth in a single moment? Yet no sooner was Zion in labor than she delivered her children.” (Isaiah 66:8 – ISV)

U.N. Partition of Palestine 1947On May 12, 2016 Israel will celebrate its 68th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel following the United Nations Resolution of November 1947 to partition Palestine between the Jews and Arabs. 

“Oh, give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the L-rd say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. (Psalm 107:1-3)

It is fascinating to follow the trail of men that G-d used to achieve His goal of this restoration starting at the commencement of the 20th century. David Ben-Gurion was the statesman that G-d chose to pick up the torch from Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann in the quest to re-establish a homeland for the Jewish people.

He was born David Gruen in Poland in 1886, was educated in a Hebrew school founded by his father and was an enthusiastic Zionist[1]. He led a Zionist youth group by his early teens and when he was only 18 years of age, David began teaching in a Jewish school in Warsaw where he joined Workers of Zion, a socialist/Zionist group. 

Gruen’s great desire to see a Jewish homeland in the former Land of Israel led him to Palestine in 1906 where he helped create an agricultural commune and a Jewish defense group, Ha Shomer (The Watchmen). It was there that he adopted his ancient Hebrew name Ben-Gurion. Then, in 1927, he joined the war against the Ottomans for the liberation of Palestine when the British government declared the Balfour Declaration, which promised the Jews a “national home” in Palestine. At that point, Ben-Gurion called for Jews to immigrate in greater numbers to create a foundation upon which to establish a Jewish State.  By 1935, he became chairman of the Zionist Executive, overseeing the world of Zionism at the highest level.

The Balfour Declaration was the first formal international recognition of Zionism and was a culmination of Weizmann's scientific efforts. During World War I, when the Allies needed great quantities of acetone to plasticize the propellant cordite (used to produce explosives), Weizmann successfully engineered its massive production in Great Britain. Following the War, Weizmann’s invaluable contribution to the War was rewarded with the Balfour Declaration, a promise to establish a homeland for the Jews in former Israel. However, the British reneged on the promise in order to appease the Arabs who supplied oil to Britain.

When the British began siding with the Arabs in the Middle East, they started to restrict Jewish migration to Palestine. As a result, Ben-Gurion and the Jewish leaders in Palestine gathered to discuss this dire situation. He urged Jews to stand up against Britain, making a resolute decision to establish a Jewish State after the War. Subsequently, following World War II, the Jews continued to fight against Britain in Palestine, which then led to the United Nations agreeing to the creation of a Jewish State. Ben-Gurion delivered Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948.

[2]The "Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel" document begins with a summary of Jewish history from Biblical times to 1948. It ties the origins and development of the Jews to the Land of Israel and interweaves moral, historical and legal justifications to the Jewish claim to Israel - specifically the Balfour Declaration of 1927 and the United Nations Resolution of 1947 to partition Palestine. The Declaration also documents the deeds and accomplishments of the Jewish people for themselves in the rebuilding of the Land of Israel in the last century and for providing the gift of the Bible to the world. This was the groundwork for the demand for independence for an established nation.

Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first Prime Minister and Defense Minister (1948-53; 1955-63). He established a strong Israeli military, began overseeing the establishment of institutions and infrastructure projects and presided over all aspects of the development and population of the new nation. He retired in 1963 and died at the age of 87, being known as the beloved Father of the Nation.

It is thought provoking that G-d used many non-religious Jews to carry out the task of re-establishing the Nation of Israel. Yet, even Ben-Gurion, a supposed atheist socialist, understood the importance of appeasing both non-religious and religious Jews in the formation of the new State. When the question arose of G-d’s role in the State’s establishment, Ben-Gurion debated on the issue of whether to refer to G-d as the “G-d of Israel”, “the Almighty and Redeemer of Israel” or whether to ignore Him altogether. Instead, he proposed the phrase “Rock of Israel” and succeeded in making one faction believe it referred to G-d while convincing the other that it did not.

Nevertheless, G-d’s hand in the circumstances of that historic day was obvious. The first day of Israel’s new existence was the Sabbath, Saturday, May 15, 1948. The Sabbath reading for the day was Amos 9:11 which speaks of the restoration.

“On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old …,” says the L-rd who does this thing.…“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” Says the L-rd your G-d.

“Oh, give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the L-rd say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Psalm 107:1-3)

Kee Va Mo’ed (The appointed time has come.)

[1] A secular movement for the restablishment, development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was extablished as a political organization in 1897 under Theodor Herzl and was later led by Chaim Weizmann. Most Zionists were non-religious although Christians encouraged Zionism because they saw that the Bible spoke about Israel existing before the return of the L-rd.

[2] All historical information is from The Historama website by Alex Ben-Arieh and is based on the account by Dan Kurzman in k"Genesis 1948" 


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