Josef Avesar

Israel’s Declaration of Independence

On the Sabbath of May 15, 1948, the same day the British Mandate ended, a group of unelected Jewish leaders headed by David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state. They made a monumental mistake for which Jews, Palestinians, and Arabs have paid dearly and will continue to do so in the future. They had a golden opportunity to demand a full democracy that would include Arabs and Jews, but they chose a violent, illogical path of creating a Jewish state instead. Within days, a bloodbath took place, killing thousands of Arabs and Jews, and lasting for 75 years with no end in sight.

Instead of declaring a Jewish state, Ben Gurion should have declared the Jewish community’s desire to create a true democracy for Arabs and Jews together. To explain the need for a Jewish state, the declaration cited the Holocaust.

“The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people – the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe – was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the community of nations.”

The Holocaust was a genocide of Jews perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. It was not caused by Arabs or Palestinians. The violence between Arabs and Jews was in the context of the Arabs justifiable objection to the creation of a Jewish State. The violence between Arabs and Jews was not cited as a justification for creating such a state. Arabs were the majority in Palestine and did not have a reason to want a Jewish state.
Instead of seeking cooperation with the Arabs in Palestine the Jewish leadership ignored them.

“WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People’s Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People’s Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called Israel”.

The declaration is the best evidence against the feasibility of a “Jewish state”. It promised a constitution on the 1st of October 1948. We are now 75 years later, and Israel does not have a constitution, not because it never got around to writing it but because of the inherent contradiction in that a Jewish State cannot also be a democracy further complicated by the fact that it is virtually impossible to objectively define a “Jewish state.”

Perhaps this explains the last 75 years of constant wars, the killing and maiming of thousands of Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians with no end in sight and the inability of the Jewish State to make peace with the Palestinians and many of its neighbors. Israel resorted to an apartheid system to maintain its Jewish character while simultaneously engages in an inhumane occupation of the Palestinians. It is under external threat of annihilation by nuclear means while internally in a string of constant acrimony between Jews regarding the character of the country, and many more structural issues directly resulting from that state.

About the Author
Josef Avesar is founder of the Israeli Palestinian Confederation, which advocates for a mutual third government for Israelis and Palestinians. An American-Israeli of Iraqi background, he practices law in the U.S., but travels frequently to Israel and Palestine.
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