Wall Street, 1915(Paul Strand)
Navigate to News section

David Ben-Gurion & Paul Strand

Israel’s founding father and America’s modernist share a birthday

Adam Chandler
October 16, 2012
Wall Street, 1915(Paul Strand)

At first thought, David Ben-Gurion and Paul Strand seem an unlikely pair. They were both born on this date, four years apart, Ben-Gurion as David Grün in Plońsk and Strand as Paul Stansky in New York City. One was the founding father of Israel, the other was a photographer and filmmaker. One was the subject of a fantastic book written by Shimon Peres, the other was not (although, you never know).

What both had was a very particular ability to use images convincingly. Ben-Gurion employed biblical language to connect the past to the present and inspire Israelis to build their state. Strand often used a concealed lens and photographed the blind to draw attention to what he called “the human condition” in the hopes of promoting social change (often controversially). Strand was also one of the founders of the Photo League, which helped to popularize photography as an art form, changing the world in unimaginable ways. Ben-Gurion left his mark too, I suppose.

I stumbled across this awesome old footage of Ben-Gurion in Sde Boker, reading from Isaiah and walking around the Negev.

Yom Hudelet Sameach!

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

Join Us!

All of Tablet’s latest stories—in your inbox, daily. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Please enter a valid email
Check iconSuccess! You have subscribed to the Tablet newsletter.