David Ben-GurionDavid Ben-Gurion

  • Issue: October 1974
  • Designer: O. Adler
  • Stamp size: 44 x 44 mm
  • Plate no.: 422 - 423
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

No other personality in modern Jewish history has made such an impact on the people and the State of Israel as David Ben-Gurion. As the leader of the Yishuv and the Labour Movement during the struggle for liberty and free immigration, as the voice which proclaimed the renaissance of Jewish independence after twenty centuries, as head of the first Government, as responsible for the nation's political destinies and its security for almost fifteen years - his short, stocky, white-maned figure towered over the State. No other outstanding individual in the first twenty-five years of Israel's existence made so great a contribution to its development. No one succeeded in providing greater leadership and keener challenges than the man who passed away a year ago, after 87 years packed with action, seventy of which he spent in the country which he cherished with all the ardour of his Zionist conviction. Much has been said and written about him, during his life-time and after his death. Still more remains to be written from a historical perspective about B.G. as a bold and resolute states man, a passionate and controversial public speaker, a fountain-head of Jewish and universal erudition, a proud son of his suffering people who was a friend and peer of the great world leaders of his time. He was the living symbol of the return of ancient Israel to the community of modern sovereign nations.

Even after his withdrawal from public office, to the seclusion of Sede Boqer in the Negev wilderness, he never ceased to maintain an active interest in the affairs of state, to follow the country's development with a paternal but critical eye, and to lend his contemporaries the benefit of his prophetic vision and practical wisdom. A candid character, matured by pioneering experience in many fields, he drew his moral strength and his unflinching faith in Jewish redemption and ultimate world peace from the spirit of the Bible, and his inspiration from the everlasting values of Jewish ethics and tradition. Those were the mainsprings of vigour and confidence which always enabled him both to make fateful decisions and to be the first to implement them, with a realistic sense of personal involvement and public responsibility.

Born David Green, on October 16, 1886, in Plonsk, Poland, he changed his name to Ben-Gurion after settling in this country in 1906. He soon became one of the first and leading labour organizers and representatives and in 1912 went to Constantinople to study Law. He returned at the outbreak of World War I, was expelled by the Ottoman authorities and arrived in the U.S. in 1915. Always active in Zionist affairs, he later helped to create the. Jewish Legion and went back to Palestine as a volunteer with the victorious British army.

After the war, he devoted his vast energies to the unification of the Jewish Labour movement. He was among the founders of the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labour, and was elected to be Secretary General from 1921 to 1935. In 1935 he was elected as Chairman of the Zionist Executive in Jerusalem and became the chief spokesman of the Jewish population in its struggle against the Mandatory authorities as well as in the parallel war effort of the Yishuv against Nazi Germany. After victory and in view of the tragedy that befell the Jews of Europe, his demands for Jewish statehood became ever more insistent and urgent as the hour of decision in the Middle East drew closer.

It was his voice that, on May 14, 1948, announced to the world the rebirth of the State of Israel. It was his firm conduct that led the emergency state nation to victory in the War of Independence. It was he who set up the Israel Defence Forces, who introduced uniform State education, who proclaimed Jerusalem's status as the nation's capital, who launched the mass immigration of the early fifties and gave impetus to the settlement and development of the Negev.

He resigned in 1953, but returned, two years later, first as Minister of Defence and subsequently as Prime Minister, in which office he led the people to the Sinai victory of 1956. He retired finally in 1963, but continued for years to be involved in political developments. In 1970 he gave up his Knesset seat and devoted himself mainly to writing his memoirs.

David Ben-Gurion died on December 1st 1973, and was brought to rest in a simple grave, in the Negev kibbutz of Sede Boqer, after his retirement his devoted wife side by side with Paula, where he had settled.

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David Ben-Gurion