Weizmann, Chaim


Weizmann, Chaim
(1874-1952)
   Veteran Zionist leader and first president of the state of Israel. He was born on 27 November 1874 in Motol, near Pinsk, Russia, into a family of ardent Zionists that belonged to the Hoveve Zion Movement. He was educated in Germany, where he received a doctor of science degree from the University of Freiburg in 1900. In 1904, Weizmann moved to England, where he began his career as a faculty member in biochemistry at the University of Manchester. As director of the Admiralty Laboratories during 1919, he discovered a process for producing acetone (a vital ingredient of gunpowder). Weizmann became the leader of the English Zionist Movement and was instrumental in securing the Balfour Declaration. In 1918, he became chairman of the Zionist Commission to Palestine.
   Following World War I, Weizmann emerged as the leader of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and built a home in Palestine near Rehovot. He served as president of the WZO from 1920 to 1946, except for 1931-35. He helped found the Jewish Agency, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Sieff Research Institute at Rehovot (now the Weizmann Institute of Science). In 1919, Weiz-mann headed the Zionist delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, and in the fall of 1947, he addressed the United Nations General Assembly to plead for the establishment of a Jewish state. Weizmann also appealed (successfully) to President Harry Truman of the United States for assistance in the effort to secure a Jewish state and to override support in the U.S. Department of State for a plan that would have omitted the Negev Desert from the proposed state.
   With the declaration of Israel's independence and the establishment of a provisional government in May 1948, Weizmann became president of Israel's provisional government, and in February 1949, the first elected Knesset selected Weizmann as the first president of Israel. He was reelected in November 1951 but died the next year on 9 November 1952.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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