Program Details

The Prime Ministers Who Shaped Israel

Ralph Nurnberger
Jewish Culture & History / Politics
Video Catch-up

Course Description

In many ways, the story of four giants of Israeli history and politics – David Ben Gurion; Golda Meir; Menachem Begin; and Yitzhak Rabin – is the story of Israel’s birth, trials, tribulations and triumphs. Each faced major challenges in the years before Israeli independence was declared in May 1948. As prime ministers they had significant, yet completely different, roles in the formulation and development of the state. While they shared some goals and objectives, they were not always in agreement on what policies to pursue. In this four-part series, Nurnberger will explore these leaders’ stories and their historical impact. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, bore the brunt of the early days of independence. As the new country repelled military attacks from neighbors and absorbed thousands of WW II refugees, he was responsible for building the infrastructure of the new nation. Golda Meir Golda had to deal with the attacks on Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympics in 1972, and then faced her biggest challenge, one year later, when Egypt and Syria simultaneously attacked the country on Yom Kippur. Menachem Begin strongly backed expansion of Israel and was ideologically opposed to territorial compromises, yet he sat down with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter at Camp David to work out a deal that ceded land for peace. Yitzhak Rabin, the renowned general of the 1967 Six Day War, during the first of two nonconsecutive terms as Prime Minister, coordinated the rescue at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976. On September 13, 1993, Rabin shook hands with President Bill Clinton and PLO leader Yasser Arafat, which set the stage for negotiations and ultimately led to his assassination in 1995.


  1. David Ben Gurion
  2. Golda Meir
  3. Menachem Begin
  4. Yitzhak Rabin

About the Instructor

  • Ralph Nurnberger, PhD, is a widely acclaimed speaker who brings humor, current political insights, and historical background to his presentations. He taught History and International Relations at Georgetown University for 38 years. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Graduate School of Liberal Studies in 2003. Nurnberger has given talks on a wide range of historical and political topics for the Lifelong Learning Program at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca and Jupiter campuses, where his talks frequently sell out. Nurnberger served on the professional staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; as a Legislative Liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC); as Executive Director of Builders for Peace (which had been established to assist the Arab-Israeli Peace Process); and as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He is a Senior Partner in Nurnberger & Associates, Inc. He received his BA from Queens College, his MA from Columbia University, and his PhD from Georgetown University.

Upcoming programs presented by Ralph Nurnberger.

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