Chaim Weizmann

Chaim Weizmann was a prominent Zionist leader, a distinguished scientist, the President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel.

Chaim Weizmann was born in 1874 in a small village near Pinsk, Russia. By the beginning of the 20th century he was already a well known Zionist leader. He studied chemistry in Germany and Switzerland and in 1904 was appointed lecturer in Biological Chemistry at Manchester University. He became famous for discovering how to use bacterial fermentation to produce large quantities of desired substances. He became a British subject in 1910. In 1915 he made an important contribution to the British war effort by developing a process for manufacturing synthetic acetone for explosives. His discovery made the British government much more sympathetic to proposals for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Having been instrumental in obtaining the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Weizmann headed the Zionist Commission which went to the Land of Israel in 1918. In the same year he signed an agreement with the Emir Faisal on Jewish-Arab cooperation (an agreement which unfortunately was never materialized following the removal of Faisal from power as the king of Syria by the French), and in 1919 he headed the Zionist delegation to the Peace Conference. In 1920 he was elected President of the World Zionist Organization. His efforts led to the extension of the Jewish Agency of which he became chairman in 1929.

Between 1931 and 1935 he was out of office, though still very active in Zionist affairs. He was President of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in 1934 established the Daniel Sieff Research Institute in Rehovot, the nucleus of what is now the world-famous Weizmann Institute of Science.

During World War II he again made important scientific contributions to the war effort, including the production of synthetic rubber. Having been re-elected President of the Zionist movement in 1935, he appeared as its proud and impressive spokesman before the various British and international commissions of inquiry for Palestine in the thirties and forties.

Weizmann met with United States President Harry Truman in March 1948 and helped get Truman's support for the establishment of the State of Israel, in spite of objections from both the State and Defense departments. When Israel declared its independence, he became chairman of the Provisional State Council. After the first Knesset elections, he was the natural choice for Israel's first President and was chosen for a second term in 1951. He passed away in 1952.

The stamp was issued in 1978. Designer: Z. Narkiss.