David Ben-Gurion, the son of Jewish parents, was born in Russia in 1886. He emigrated to Palestine in 1906 and became a strong supporter of Zionism. He worked for a Zionist journal before studying law at the University of Constantinople. However, he was expelled from Turkey during the First World War as a result of his Zionist activities.
In 1921 Ben-Gurion became secretary-general of the Jewish Labour Party and in 1930 leader of the socialist Mapai Party. Five years later he became chairman of the Jewish Agency.
The Jewish state of Israel was established on 14th May 1948 when the British mandate over Palestine came to an end. Ben-Gurion became the country's first prime-minister. During his two spells as prime-minister (1948-1953 and 1955-1963) he successfully achieved economic growth by instigating industrial and agricultural reform. He also advocated a policy that encouraged a large number of refugees from Europe to settle in Israel.
Ben-Gurion retired in 1963 but returned to politics two years later in opposition to the leader of the Mapai Party, Golda Meir.
David Ben-Gurion died in 1974.