David Ben-Gurion, perhaps the most influential Jewish leader since Moses, needs no introduction. Here though are a few facts about Israel’s first Prime Minister…
It was he who on May 12th, 1948 advocated for what became the name of the State, dismissing the options of Judea, Zion, and Eretz Israel. It was he who pushed – more than anyone else – for the Declaration of Independence, even as Jerusalem and large swaths of the Galilee were cut off, Kibbutz Kfar Etzion had just fallen, and the US, days earlier, had explicitly warned that it would not come to the aid of a young state in the event of a military defeat, which – by the way – seemed entirely possible.
It was he who wrote in his diary on the day of the Declaration, quote, “at four o’clock in the afternoon, Jewish independence was declared and the State was founded. Its fate is in the hands of the armed forces.” It was he who – just five weeks after the founding of the State – gave the order to open fire on the Irgun’s arms ship, the Altalena; a decision that some saw as a test of true leadership and others as a murderous act that would result in civil war. It was he who – though himself a socialist – charted Israel’s course away from the Soviet Union and he who – years later – gave the order to capture Adolf Eichmann and bring him to trial in Jerusalem.
Finally, it was he who – while shepherding the State into existence and shaping more or less all of its institutions from the Mossad to the IDF, from the Histadrut Labor Union to the national Bible Quiz – was forced by his wife Paula to eat the same bland porridge, a blend of applesauce and sour cream that she called “cooch mooch,” every day for breakfast.
The end song is Shir Ba’Boker Ba’Boker (lyrics – Amir Gilboa, music – Gideon Koren and Shlomo Artzi, arrangement – Yaron Gershovsky), performed by Shlomo Artzi (Licensed by Israel Story through Acum).
About Israel Story: Israel Story is the award-winning podcast that tells extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. Often called “the Israeli ‘This American Life,’” we bring you quirky, unpredictable, interesting and moving stories about a place we all think we know a lot about, but really don’t. Produced in partnership with The Times of Israel.
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