David Ben-Gurion

   The first prime minister of Is­rael was David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973). He was born in Plonsk, Russia (now in Poland), the son of Sheindal and Avigdor Green. As a child, he said, "One day I will be the leader of Israel."
   He went to Palestine in 1906 to work as a farm laborer. At that time, Palestine was part of the Turldsh Ottoman Empire. Young David Green wanted the country to be free. He helped organize a Jewish defense force. He became editor of a weekly Hebrew newspaper, signing his first article Ben-Gurion, which means "young lion."
   Ben-Gurion was forced to leave Palestine because he plotted to form a Jewish state. He sailed for the United States. Later, he helped form a Jewish Legion in Canada to fight for Palestine's freedom. After World War II, Ben-Gurion returned to Palestine to form a secret army. The United Nations in 1947 voted to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. In 1948, at a meeting in a museum in Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion read a proclamation aloud. "The State of Israel is in existence," he said.
   Ben-Gurion headed the new government from 1949 to 1953 and again from 1955 until he retired in 1963. He was the minister of defense during the early battles with Arab armies.