A major reason for Zionism’s success from the 1840s through the establishment of the state of Israel, and since, has been a virtual unending number of highly talented thinkers, leaders, bureaucrats, military leaders, business people, and office holders who contributed to the state’s making and sustenance.
In addition to the leaders noted here, the general Jewish population took responsibility for making their communities operate through volunteerism, invigorated by the idea of building a state and protecting it. They did this with notice and distinction prior to the 1948, 1956, 1967, and during the 1973 wars. The list of leaders that follows are limited to those who served in significant positions in the Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, in major Zionist and Israeli organizations, and Jewish leaders who contributed in significant ways to Zionism and Israel.
In the leadership bibliography, we have provided names of Zionist thinkers, leaders, and key Israeli office holders. We did not identify the positions they held because many of them served multiple roles over their individual lifetimes. Not every office holder wrote an autobiography or memoir, or had a history of their contributions to Zionism or Israel written by a third party. Accordingly, we have not included them in this initial list. If one visits the Central Zionist or Israel State archives, both located in Jerusalem, one will will find files about these personalities and their contributions to the state. Moreover, our bibliographic list only includes English titles, leaving aside the vastly superior number of selections of excellent Hebrew titles, and titles in other languages. For each entry, we have listed books and articles together. Short biographies of all former Israeli office holders may be found on the English websites of the Israeli President, Prime Minister and Speakers of the Parliament. Further, there are biographical dictionaries, none of which are more detailed than David Tidhars Encyclopedia of the Founders and Builders of Israel, a compilation of more than 23 years of work. Tidhar collected information about the early Zionists, and together, his 19 volumes include some 6,000 entries, in Hebrew, but accessible on line at www.tidhar.tourolib.org. Additionally, a full listing and short biographies of the more than 850 Israelis who served in the Israeli parliament may be found at https://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mkdetails_eng.asp.
Several anthologies focus on multiple Zionist and Israeli leaders. The most significant of these are the first hundred pages of Arthur Hertzberg’s superb The Zionist Idea, Yeuda Avner’s majestic volume The Prime Ministers (Eshkol, Meir, Rabin and Begin) and Thomas Mitchell’s volume on Likud leaders. A short biography of each of Israel’s President’s may be found at the President of Israel’s website –
http://www.president.gov.il/English/Pages/Default.aspx. For additional readings about these leaders and others, we suggest consulting the bibiliographies in each of the books recommened on our accompanying list.
Our own e-book publication Israel at 65 was issued in 2013. It is a compendium of short biographies – 130 notable Israelis and 65 non-Israelis who had significant influence on Israel’s history, politics, culture, society and economics – https://israeled.org/product/israel-at-65/.