David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion (born David Grun on Oct. 16, 1886, died Dec. 1, 1973), the first Prime Minister of Israel, played an instrumental role in the founding of the state. After leading Israel to victory in her Independence War against the Arabs in 1948, he helped build the state institutions and oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. Ben-Gurion was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

Born in Plonsk in Poland, David Ben Gurion immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1906. He studied law in Istanbul and in 1915 was expelled from the Land of Israel, then part of the Ottoman Empire, to Egypt, from where he travelled to the United States. In the USA he met and married his wife Paula. He joined the British army in 1918 as part of the Jewish Legion (five service battalions of Jewish volunteers of the Royal Fusiliers; the initial unit, known as the Zion Mule Corps, was formed in 1914 during WW-I). He and his family returned to the Land of Israel after WW-I following its capture by the British from the Ottoman Empire.

In 1919 David Ben-Gurion became the leader of the political party Ahdut HaAvoda - a socialist Zionist party representing the right, non-Marxist, faction of the Labor Zionist movement. He quickly became one of the most prominent leaders of the Yishuv - the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. He was one of the initiators of the Histadrut, the Zionist Labor Federation in Palestine, and he served as its general secretary from 1921 to 1935. He fought against The British White Paper that severely restricted the number of Jews allowed to enter Palestine, by intensifying his involvement in the enterprise of illegal immigration to the country (Aliya Bet).

During WW-ll, in spite of his opposition to the British Mandate rule in Palestine, he supported Jewish enlistment in the British Army to fight against the Nazis. Between 1946 and 1948 Ben-Gurion devoted himself to building a Jewish fighting force, and with the establishment of the State Israel to building the Israel Defense Forces (Tzahal). In April 1948 he was appointed head of the People's Council and responsible for the security of the Yishuv.

On May 14, 1948, in the Tel Aviv Museum, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the independent State of Israel. On the setting up of the government, he was appointed its first Prime Minister. In 1952, he reached an agreement with Germany on reparations as financial compensation for the loss of Jewish property during the Holocaust. Ben-Gurion was one of the initiators of the Kadesh Campaign of 1956 (the Sinai War), fighting Egypt in coordination with Britain and France. In 1963, he finally resigned from political life and went to live in Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev where he devoted himself to writing his books and memoirs. The hut where he lived and his library have become a museum in his memory.

Sde Boker College located not far from Kibbutz Sde Boker was founded on the initiative of Ben-Gurion in 1964. It includes a field school, a desert research centre and a regional high school. Following the death of Ben-Gurion, an institute was established there to preserve his heritage. The view from the library overlooks Nahal Zin and the compound where David Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula are buried.

The stamp was issued in 1974, one of two in a series called David Ben-Gurion (the other stamp looks exactly the same, but with a brownish tint). It was designed by O. Adler. David Ben-Gurion was also commemorated on other stamps that were issued in 1978 and 1986.