Think You Know Your Israeli Leaders? Think Again!

We’ve all learned about Israel’s leaders at some point or another. We know David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister, and that Yitzhak Rabin was the only Israeli prime minister to be assassinated. Therefore, we decided to gather some of the juicier facts, that not many people would know about the history of Israel's leaders.

You probably know that Theodor Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl, besides having the most famous beard in Jewish history, was a Jewish Austrian journalist, a lawyer, and a Zionist activist. The Anti-Semitism and hatred towards Jews at the time, triggered him to find a solution for the “Jewish Problem”, so he published a short essay calling to gather all Jews in their own state, something he never got to see. Herzl’s poor health didn’t allow him to live and see his dream come alive, and in 1904 he passed away at the age of 44. In 1949, his bones were brought from Vienna and reburied on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

But did you know that in his memoirs, Herzl admitted that when he was 26, he fell in love with a 13-year-old girl? Or that a few years after that, he wrote that he would prefer that all Jews converted to Christianity, but he didn't do so himself out of respect to his father? Another interesting anecdote- in Herzl’s will, he demanded that his mother (not his wife!) take control of his children and assets.

You probably know that Yitzhak Rabin’s military career was vast and spanned over nearly 30 years, where he climbed up through all the ranks, from a young cadet in the Palmach to the Chief of the General Staff. You most likely know that after making the switch to politics, Rabin’s views and actions were highly controversial in those days, and many people considered his waving of lands and deals with Israel’s enemies' acts of treason. On November 4, 1995, during a peace rally in Tel Aviv, Yigal Amir shot and killed Rabin on his way to his car. Rabin, one of Israel’s three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, is buried in Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.


But did you know that Yitzhak Rabin originally wanted to become an irrigation engineer? Or that when Hamas was formed, he tried to secretly help them overtake the PLO? Another fact that not many know or remember, is that when Rabin was Prime Minister in 1977, he had to resign from office because his wife held a bank account in the United States (which was illegal in Israel at the time).

You probably know that as opposed to Herzl’s beard, the most famous and recognizable hairdo in Jewish history not only got to visit the Jewish State of Israel but even served as her first prime minister. After a short service in the Jewish Legion, David Ben Gurion began his long and illustrious political career, including 15 years as Israel’s first prime minister. Ben Gurion served as prime minister twice, until his final resignation in 1963. After his passing, Israel’s International Airport was renamed Ben Gurion Airport in his honor.


But did you know that Ben Gurion took a two-year break from politics to build his home in Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev? In fact, he and his wife Paula are both buried outside their home, and not on Mount Herzl as you would expect. Ben Gurion had sleeping problems, but he refused to take sleeping pills, therefore he only slept two hours a night. He also began doing headstands as his doctor advised him, due to his oversized head.