David Ben-Gurion, 1886-1973

Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister and its leading political force for two decades. Born in Poland, he arrived in Palestine in 1907. He formed socialist-leaning Mapai, the dominant political party, in 1930 and became chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive in 1935. He declared the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. He unified the military, emphasized immigration, promoted the Negev, saw Israel through a decade of economic austerity and established Jerusalem as the capital.

Photo: Fritz Cohen, Israeli Government Press Office