Sep 21

Israeli Heroes – Famous People in Israel – Golda Meir

Born in Kiev in 1898, Golda Meir grew up in The United States from the age of 8 until the age of 23 when she moved with her husband Morris Myerson to what was then British Mandate Palestine. For the first few years they lived on Kibbutz Merhavya. Golda became an official of the Histadrut Trade Union upon moving to Tel Aviv in 1924.

 Golda MeirGolda Meir took on the position in the Jewish Agency as head of the Political Department in 1946 replacing Moshe Sharett. This position made her the chief Jewish liaison with the British.

Very involved in fund raising in the United States to help pay for the costs of the Israeli War of Independence, Golda soon became one of the most compelling and convincing spokespersons for the State of Israel.  She was a true Zionist and completely committed to the State of Israel. Golda Meir  also fought to solve the issues of the Country like employment, housing and immigration as strongly as she campaigned across the globe for the Zionist cause and the State of Israel.

Prime Minister Golda MeirIn 1948 she became Israel’s first Ambassador to the Soviet Union. Golda returned to Israel in 1949 when she was elected into the Knesset and served  as Foreign Affairs Minister. When Prime Minister Levi Eshkol died in 1969, Golda became Israel’s first Woman Prime Minister.

At the end of the Yom Kippur War Gold Meir resigned as Prime Minister. She died in Jerusalem in December 1978 at the age of 80 and was buried on Mount Herzl.

First Woman Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meirthe grave of Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel

Sep 04

Israel – Famous People – Orde Charles Wingate

Orde Charles Wingate was born in 1903 in Naini Tal India, both his parents were deeply religious Christians and members of the Plymouth Brethren a non denominational evangelical movement. He received a military education and in 1936 Orde Charles Wingate was posted to the British Mandate of Palestine with the rank of Captain in Military Intelligence.

He was an outstanding friend of the Jewish People and had an unwavering belief in the Zionist Cause. This brave and yet controversial man soon received the Hebrew nickname “Hayedid” (Friend).

At the time of his arrival in Palestine a campaign of riots and attacks against Jewish Communities and British Mandate officials, instigated by the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini, were taking place regularly.

Wingate learned Hebrew and a friendship began between him and Zionist leaders Chaim Weitzman and Moshe Sharett. His offers to help the Jewish leadership were met with suspicion, mainly because just about every British Official in Palestine at that time disliked Jews.

Wingate devised the concept of small units made up of elite volunteers to go into action to put an end to terrorism in Northern Palestine. In this way the offensive would be carried to the enemy by taking the initiative and keeping him off balance. Actions like this had already begun by the Haganah under the leadership of Yitzchak Sadeh who later stated that they had less skill but the same ideas as Wingate, but that on his arrival they found a leader.

Initially Wingate’s plans were completely disregarded but eventually approved by the Commander of British Forces in Palestine Archibald Wavell, then finally accepted by the rather doubtful Jewish Agency and Haganah who found it hard to believe that any British official would be interested in helping them.

Orde Wingate held strong beliefs that it was his destiny to help in the creation of a Jewish Army in Palestine.  His training and skills had a deep and intense influence on the tactics and character of the Haganah which was the precursor of Israel’s Defense Forces of today.

Orde Wingate’s deep involvement with the Zionist Cause and his public statements favoring the formation of a Jewish State in Palestine resulted in his transfer back to Britain in 1939.

When World War II broke out Wingate was in Britain and a commander of an anti-aircraft unit and made a proposal to the Government to create a Jewish Army to take over the rule in Palestine on behalf of the British. Shortly afterwards he was invited to build up guerilla forces in Sudan to operated against Italian forces in Ethiopia. This was called the Gideon Force and was made up of British, Sudanese and Ethiopian Soldiers and later he invited veteran members of the Haganah to join as well.

In 1944 Orde Charles Wingate was killed, together with nine others when the plane he was in crashed in Manipur India.

There is a memorial to Orde Wingate and the Chindits (British-Indian Special force) in London near the Ministry of Defense, on the north side of the Victorian Embankment. On this memorial there is a mention of his contribution to the State of Israel.

In Israel there are a number of places that commemorate Orde Charles Wingate “Hayedid.”, some of which include the Wingate Institute (Israel’s National Centre for Physical Education and Sport), Wingate Square in Jerusalem, and the Yemin Orde Youth Village near Haifa.

Aug 20

Famous Israelis – Leaders of Israel – David Ben Gurion

David Ben Gurion, (originally David Gruen) the founder and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, was born in 1886 in Plonsk Poland. His father Avigdor Gruen was an ardent Zionist who established a Hebrew School and this is where the young David was educated. His mother died when he was 11 years old.

Ben Gurion - First Prime Minister of IsraelWhen David Ben Gurion was a teenager he founded “Ezra” a Hebrew youth group and while at University in Warsaw he joined “Poalei Zion” the Zionist Socialist Party.  In 1906 he immigrated to what was then Turkish Palestine and worked as a farmhand and a teacher and helped establish “Hashomer” the Jewish Self Defense Group.

In 1912 he travelled to Istanbul to study law; however he was exiled to Egypt after the outbreak of the First World War after being arrested together with other leading Zionists and accused of conspiring against the Ottoman Empire.  He then decided to travel to New York where he learnt English without any delay and started the establishment of a group of young Jews to prepare them for settling in the land of Israel.

While in the United States his Marxist ideas waned and his life was impacted by the democratic values that he embraced during his years there and which he held for the rest of his life.  While in the United States he met and married a nurse Paula Munweis and she remained his faithful companion until her death in 1968.

After the end of World War 1, Ben Gurion returned to what was then British controlled Palestine and set about establishing the General Federation of Labor (Histadrut) as he believed this would be the foundation of a Jewish State.

Ben Gurion worked unstintingly to put forward the Zionist Cause in Europe and the United States, whilst at the same time encouraging the idea of the establishment of a Jewish military force in Palestine and at the outbreak of the Second World War he encouraged Jews to fight for the allies but at the same time organizing agencies to smuggle Jews, fleeing the holocaust, into Palestine.

Despite the opposition of the government of the United States, Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the Jewish State on May 14th 1948 and became the first prime minister and minister of defense when he insisted that all armed groups be dissolved and become part of the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF was soon in action defending the country against all the enormous Arab Army’s that did their best to destroy the fledgling state.

In 1953 he left government for a short while and two years later he returned as Prime Minister, remaining so until 1963. In 1970 at the age of 84 he finally retired from politics.
He died in 1973 and will always be respected and remembered as the “Father of the Nation”.