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Sunday, 13 February 2011





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Government Gazette

Ben-Gurion, a leader of a different kind

Picture of Mahatma Gandhi at Ben-Gurion’s bedroom

Israel’s first Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s Desert Home at Kibbutz Sede Boker illustrates the modest lifestyle of an inspiring leader who is considered the founder of the State of Israel.

The establishment of Israel as a separate Jewish State is considered a very significant decision. Ben-Gurion had declared Israel a separate State on May 14, 1948. Ben-Gurion was elected the first Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the State of Israel in 1949. Once Israel was established, over 800,000 Jewish people immigrated to the land of Israel.

The political career of Ben-Gurion reveals the true nature of an illustrious political figure who had the skill to lead the nation towards success even under difficult circumstances.

David Ben-Gurion was born in the town of Plonsk in Poland (Czarist Russia) on October 16, 1886 and his wife Paula Ben-Gurion was born in the Russian city of Minsk in April 1892. Ben-Gurion immigrated to the land of Israel in 1906 and began working as a farmhand on the early Hebrew settlements. He had been expelled from the land of Israel in 1915 by order of the Ottoman Government.

He sailed for the United States where he became active in the

“Hehalutz” organisation. He returned to the land of Israel in 1919 with the Jewish Legion and was elected Secretary of the Histadrut (Jewish Labour Federation). He was also Chairman of the Jewish Agency in 1935.


Ben Gurion’s Desert Home is an ideal example which illustrates the character of a singular leader who lived the words, “practice what you preach”. In order to respect this great leader, the Israeli Government has preserved his desert home as an exhibit to educate visitors on Ben-Gurion’s life, underscoring the continuous theme of national revival by a man who strove ceaselessly to realise his dream.

The documents presented to visitors to the home are in over 20 languages including Sinhala.

Ben-Gurion and his wife moved into this desert home in 1953. The documents and pictures displayed at his home reveals the character of a great person who dedicated his life for the well-being of his nation.

Ben-Gurion’s library can be seen in the centre of his house. It contains over 5000 books that reflect his various fields of interest such as Judaism and scripture, philosophy, history and geography, military and defence. In his room, he has penned many of the books and articles dealing with his official activities.

Seated at his desk, he had written his memories, especially mindful of the generations of youth growing up in the State of Israel. The exhibit in his desert home displays Ben-Gurion’s official documents, letters, and personal items; video clips, and an interactive computer data-base. In addition, his home has been embellished with many of the gifts that he had received.

The items portray subjects dear to him such as a picture of both the official symbol of the State and a portrait of his colleague Yitzhak Ben-Zvi; a copy of the declaration of Independence, a gift from Prime Minister, Golda Meir; a chanukia (ritual candle holder) that plays the national anthem Hatikva (The Hope); and a large wall map of Israel.

 Ben-Gurion’s ‘Desert Home’ at Kibbutz Sede Boker

The initiatives taken by Ben-Gurion has paved for Israel is a key strategic location on the world map. His dynamic leadership helped build Israel as a State known for its superior military power and information technology. Agriculture too is considered very important.

The pictures, statues and specific objects that Ben-Gurion chose to put up in his house show his special interest in them. When we visited his desert home, the only photo which could be seen in his bedroom was of Mahatma Gandhi who propelled India towards national independence while preaching non-violence. In the photo he has mentioned “ the moral strength of East is perhaps embodied most of all in the great Indian Leader Mahatma Gandhi, the outstanding man who is heading the war for independence....and the weapon of this commander is “non-violence”.

Ben-Gurion’s will displayed at the exhibition says “it is my wish that the building in Sede Boker which served as my home to my dying day will be conserved in its present state-including the furniture, books and journals. It is my wish that, after my death, the home in Sede Boker with all its books and belongings be opened to the public”.

Ben-Gurion who made a laudable service to Israel resigned from the office and returned to live on Kibbutz Sede Boker in 1953. This great leader who created a new chapter in the history of Israel passed away on December 01, 1973. He was buried next to his wife Paula at Midreshet Sede Boker, a site overlooking the valley of Tsin.

Ben-Gurion depicting the modesty and simplicity of a true leader had also requested not to have an inscription on a tombstone. Therefore, it does not State that he was the first Prime Minister and founder of Israel. It only mentions his name, date of birth and the day he passed away.


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