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David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion (1886 - 1973) was the first Prime Minister of Israel.

He was born David Gruen in Plonsk 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 State of Israel. He led Israel during its War of Independence and, except for nearly two years of interruption between 1953 - 1955, became Prime Minister on January 25, 1948 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 mainstream Jewish establishment and was known as a moderate, with whose Haganah organization the British dealt with frequently, sometimes in order to arrest more radical groups involved in resistance against them. He was also involved in occasional violent resistance during the short period of time his organization cooperated with Menachem Begin's Irgun. However, during the first weeks of Israel's independence, however, it was decided to disband all resistance 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 Irgun (also called Etzel) resistance group. That command remains controversial to this day.

Ben-Gurion was voted by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 people who shaped the 20th century.