Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
On May 14, 1948, Expansionist Israelis
Intentionally Declared Independence Without Borders
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 13, 2016
|Uri Avnery: Down with the
Israeli Occupation of Palestine
||Israeli theft of Palestinian
A Document with a Mission
WHEN DAVID BEN-GURION read out Israel's declaration of
independence (officially: "Declaration of the Establishment of the State
of Israel") on May 14, 1948, I was in Kibbutz Hulda.
of the (still unnamed) Israeli army was ordered to make a night attack on
the Arab village of al-Kubab, near the town of Ramleh. It was expected to
be a hard fight, and I was busy checking my equipment and cleaning my
(Czech) rifle, when somebody said that Ben-Gurion was making a speech
which was being broadcast on the Kibbutz dining-room radio.
not really interested. We were all convinced that what some politicians in
Tel Aviv might be babbling was quite immaterial to our future. Whether our
state would survive or not would be decided on the battlefield. The
regular armies of the neighboring Arab states were about to enter the war,
there would be bloody battles, and the outcome would decide our lives.
However, there was one detail which aroused our
curiosity: What would our new state be called? There were some rumors in
the air. We wanted to know.
So I betook myself to the kibbutz
dining room – which we soldiers were not allowed to enter on ordinary days
– and sure enough, I could hear the very peculiar high-pitched voice of
Ben-Gurion reading the document. When he came to the passage "(we) hereby
declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known
as the State of Israel", I left.
I remember that outside the hall
I met the brother of a girl-friend, who was scheduled to attack another
village that very night. We exchanged a few words. I never saw him again.
He was killed.
ALL THIS crossed my mind when I was called
upon three days ago, on the eve of "Independence Day", to take part in a
ceremony in the very hall where the original text had been read out by
Ben-Gurion. I was one of the persons chosen to read it out again on the
For this occasion I read the entire text of the
declaration for the first time. I was not impressed.
version was first drafted by some officials, then re-written by Moshe
Sharett (who became Foreign Minister on that day). He was a stickler for
the Hebrew language, so the text is linguistically impeccable. Ben-Gurion
was not satisfied with the text, so he took it and rewrote it completely.
It bears all the hallmarks of his unmistakable style. Also, he had the
Chutzpah to put his signature above all the others, which appear in
The writers of the declaration had obviously
read the American Declaration of Independence before drafting their own.
They copied the general outline. It is not written in the edifying style
of an historical document, but as a
document with a mission: to convince the nations of the world to recognize
THE INTRODUCTION is a reiteration of
Zionist slogans. It purports to set out the historical facts, and
very dubious facts they
For example, it starts with the words "Eretz Israel was the
birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious, and
political identity was shaped."
Well, not quite. I was taught at
school that God promised Abraham the land while still in Mesopotamia. The
10 Commandments were given to us by God personally on Mount Sinai, which
is in Egypt. The more important of the two Talmuds was written in Babylon.
True, the Hebrew Bible was composed in the country, but most of the
religious texts of Judaism were written in "exile".
in every successive generation to reestablish themselves in their ancient
homeland…" Nonsense. They most certainly did not. For example, when the
Jews were expelled from Catholic Spain in 1492, the vast majority of them
went to the countries of the Muslim world, with none but a handful
settling in Palestine.
Zionism, the movement to establish a Jewish
nation in Palestine, was founded only at the end of the 19th century, when
anti-Semitism became a powerful political force all over Europe, and the
founders foresaw the calamities to come.
emphasized, of course, recent history: "On the 29th of November 1947 the
United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the
establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel…"
That is a major
falsification. The UN resolution called
for the establishment of TWO states: an Arab and a Jewish
one (and a separate zone of Jerusalem). Omitting the call for an Arab
state changes the entire character of the resolution.
of course, intentional. Ben-Gurion was already in secret contact with King
Abdullah of Jordan, who wanted to annex the West Bank to his Transjordan
kingdom. Ben-Gurion approved.
Ben-Gurion saw it as a major aim to
eliminate any trace of a separate Arab Palestinian nation. The annexation
of the West Bank by King Abdullah was tacitly approved – even before the
first Jordanian soldier entered the country, ostensibly to save the Arabs
from the Jewish State.
HERE IS the place to tackle these two
fateful words: "Jewish State".
Before the creation of Israel, when
speaking about our future state, nearly all of us here used the words
"Hebrew State". This is what we shouted in innumerable street
demonstrations, this is what was written in the newspapers and demanded in
This was not an ideological decision. True,
there was a tiny group of young writers and artists, nicknamed
"Canaanites", which was proclaiming the birth of a new "Hebrew Nation" and
wanted nothing to do with the Jews in the Diaspora. Some other groups,
including one founded by me, expressed similar ideas without reaching such
But in colloquial speech, too, people made a
clear distinction between "Hebrew' (things in the country, like
Hebrew agriculture, Hebrew defense forces etc.) and "Jewish" (like Jewish
religion, Jewish tradition and such).
So, why "Jewish State"?
Quite simple: for the British administration, the population of Palestine
consisted of Jews and Arabs. The UN partition plan spoke about a Jewish
and an Arab state. The "Declaration of Independence" took great pains to
emphasize that we were only fulfilling the UN decision. Hence: "We hereby
declare the establishment of a Jewish state, to be known as the State of
(Note: "A" Jewish state, not "the" Jewish state.)
These innocent words have been quoted a million times to justify the
contention that Israel is a "Jewish" state, in which Jews have special
rights and privileges. This is accepted today without question.
However, it is generally overlooked that in one of the paragraphs, while
"extending our hand to all neighboring states" it asks - in the Hebrew
original - for cooperation with "the sovereign Hebrew people". This is
flagrantly falsified in the official translation into "the sovereign
In the main sentence in the Hebrew original, the
signers identify themselves as "…representatives of the Hebrew community
in Eretz Israel…" The official translation says "the Jewish community in
One has to thank Ben-Gurion for the fact that God
does not appear in the document at all. After a strenuous fight with the
then small religious Zionist faction, the only religious allusion is to
"the Rock of Israel", which is one of the appellations of God, but which
can also be understood differently.
ONE GLARING omission is the
stark fact that the declaration does not make one mention of the borders
of the new state.
The UN partition plan drew very clear borders.
In the course of the 1948 war, our side conquered considerably more
territory. In the end the so-called Green Line was established.
The Declaration mentions no borders, and
up to now Israel remains the only state in the world which has no official
In this, as in almost all other matters,
Ben-Gurion laid down the track along which Israel has been moving to
this very day.
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