Students for Palestine - University of Southampton

David Ben-Gurion Quotations

>> Who is David Ben-Gurion?

Born in 1886 as David Green (Gruen) in Plonsk, Poland. He is considered one of the three founding figures of Zionism beside Chaim Weizmann and Herzl. Ben Gurion was the major factor behind Yishuv’s (a term that refers to the Jews in Palestine prior to 1948) military power and is considered as the founder of the State of Israel. At an early stage, he developed a passion for socialism and Zionism, and in 1906 he immigrated to Palestine. From 1921-1935, he served as the secretary general of the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor in Palestine, and in 1935 he was elected the chairman of the Jewish Agency which he held until 1948. From 1948 until his retirement in 1963, except for a brief interval in the early 1950s, Ben-Gurion served as Israel’s Prime Minister and its Minister of Defense.


>> Ben-Gurion told Nahum Goldman (one of the prominent Zionist leaders) before he died:

“I don’t understand your optimism.,” Ben-Gurion declared. “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipes us out”.


>> From the beginning, Zionists advocated a “Jewish State” not just in Palestine, but also in Jordan, southern Lebanon, and the Golan Heights as well. In 1918 Ben-Gurion described the future “Jewish state’s” frontiers in details as follows:

“to the north, the Litani river [in southern Lebanon], to the northeast, the Wadi ‘Owja, twenty miles south of Damascus; the southern border will be mobile and pushed into Sinai at least up to Wadi al-‘Arish; and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan”.


>> In an article published by Ben-Gurion in 1918, titled “The Rights of the Jews and others in Palestine,” he conceded that the Palestinian Arabs have the same rights as Jews. He explained that Palestinians had these rights since they had inhabited the land “for hundreds of years”. He stated in the article:

“Palestine is not an empty country . . . on no account must we injure the rights of the inhabitants.” Ben-Gurion often returned to this point, emphasizing that Palestinian Arabs had “the full right” to an independent economic, cultural, and communal life, but not political.

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