Israeli Consulate locates Ben-Gurion's Turkish home

Ben-Gurion decided that the best way to promote Zionist interests was by running for Turkish parliament.

ben gurion home 224.88 (photo credit: Istanbul Consulate General)
ben gurion home 224.88
(photo credit: Istanbul Consulate General)
Ninety-three years after David Ben-Gurion was forced to leave Turkey, the Israeli Consulate here recently identified the house in which Israel's founding father lived during the three years he spent in a local law school. The site was discovered by Dr. Emre Oktem - a graduate of Istanbul University's Law School, the same school where Ben-Gurion studied - who recently finished writing a research paper on Israel's first prime minister's life in Istanbul. Ben-Gurion arrived in the city in 1911 at the age of 26 after deciding that the best way to promote the interests of the Jewish community in Israel was by attending an Ottoman law school and then running for the Turkish parliament. Together with his friend Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, later Israel's second president, Ben-Gurion traveled to Istanbul and studied there until 1914. "Ben-Gurion was an excellent student," said Mihal Gur-Aryeh, Israel's deputy consul-general in Istanbul. "Rumor has it that he learned Turkish in a mere three weeks." After locating the home in the Turkish metropolis's Beyolu District, the consulate turned to the Istanbul Municipality and asked that a plaque be placed on the building's façade. Last Thursday, the consulate and the city held a ceremony during which the plaque was unveiled. In attendance were Consul General Mordehai Amihai and Beyolu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan. The consulate then opened an exhibition at the Schneider Temple Arts Center, displaying excerpts from Ben-Gurion's life. Dr. Nathan Aridan from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba said at the exhibition that the Turkish philosophy and way of life had had a major impact on the young Ben-Gurion. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres visited Istanbul's Neveh Shalom synagogue, which was targeted in a terrorist bombing in 2003. Peres addressed the congregation in Hebrew after being received by leaders of the local Jewish community.•