[ Authors Note: Part I will explore the document officially known as The Declaration of Establishment of The State of Israel. This document is often mis-named The Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel. Whether or not this is deliberate, I leave up to the reader to decide. However one ought to note, that since Israel must appeal to an American audience to sustain itself in the manner to which it has become accustomed; misstating the true name gives the impression that “they are just like us”; when this is patently untrue.
When the United States declared its independence from the British Crown on July 4, 1776 it was still a conglomeration of 14 separate colonies of Great Britain. Thirteen of those colonies declared independence and one (Nova Scotia) remained loyal to the crown.
When The State of Israel Declared its establishment on 15 May 1948, it was not declaring its independence from anyone, much less Britain, the mandatory; because the Zionist Executive for the Jewish community in Palestine, the Yeshuv, waited until the Union Jack was lowered and the ceremony completed.
This article will demonstrate that the Declaration of Establishment was clearly simply a continuation of Political Zionist philosophy as established at the First Zionist Congress in August 1897, and as continued at subsequent Congresses, up until that day.
A subsequent article, Part II will explore the Basic Laws of the State of Israel and how they pertain to the Zionist notion that Israel is NOT a normal country in the sense that it is a state responsible to its own citizens and resident aliens, but in fact a supranational entity which it self-proclaims as responsible to Jews no matter where they live. Moreover, the laws passed by the state of Israel, have made this Zionist notion the working engine which drives the State to this day. – Bill Friend ]
In his article posted on 9 May 2001, Dr. Mazin B. Qumsiyeh gives information to those who may be unaware, valuable information, on a country that claims for itself to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”. Indeed many of the laws still on the books, in the State of Israel, are restrictive and racist on their face, and it does not take anyone with a degree in Law or in International Law to ascertain this. This is obvious since both Dr. Qumsiyeh and myself are both in professions related to the biological sciences and human health.
I would like to expand on some of the things that were stated in the above article so that people may be more aware of the fact that Israel is a democracy in toto, only if one belongs to the privileged class, i.e, if one is a Jew. Otherwise, as with the old Union of South Africa, The State of Israel is in effect, by virtue of its many Basic Laws, an Apartheid state.
Dr. Qumsiyeh begins by informing us that “Israel does not have a constitution”. This is true. As a matter of fact, even though it does not have this document, it does in fact still have a Constutional Committee, which was formed by the provisional government under David Ben-Gurion at the time of The Declaration of Establishment of The State of Israel, read to the world on 15 May 1948. For many obvious political reasons, this committee was made inert by the ruling powers of the Zionist government.
However, the United Kingdom does not have a constitution either. I dont know anyone who would not consider the United Kingdom a democracy, it is just that it functions, structurally, differently than the way democracy functions in The United States, which is the oldest CONSTITUTIONAL democracy on Earth. Thus, not having a constitution, does not preclude democracy. Indeed, the U.K. has a series of laws, beginning of course with the Magna Carta, which function as basic constitutional laws. Since, Israel, to date, for a number of reasons, which I will go into in a later paper, does not have a written formal constitution, it too uses Basic Laws as having the force of Constitutional Law. Where Israel, which purports to be a parliamentary democracy, similar to the U.K., departs from the INTENT of democracy as practiced in the U.K., is in the very discriminatory policies inherent in its BASIC LAWS, which are not present in the same functioning or analagous laws in Great Britain.
Moreover, the Declaration of Establishment of The State of Israel (its formal name, which is often misstated, as Dr. Qumsiyeh does, as “Israels Declaration of Independence”, and henceforth referred to as the D of E) is an oxymoronic document, in which it proclaims equality for all, while giving (and stating as much) special privileges to those who are defined as Jews. Since this declaration does NOT have the force of law, since it is not one of the Basic Laws of the Government of Israel, as Dr. Qumsiyeh correctly notes, even its intentions with regard to those who are not Jews, have been studiously ignored by the Knesset (the parliament) up to the present day.
However, the D. of E. as a political Zionist declaration, contains within it some very pernicious notions; propaganda statements presented as facts, as well as some notions about freedom and justice that to date are restricted to a privileged group.
At the outset, the document attempts to deliberately obfuscate the notion of what Jews are; which prior to the Zionist project had never been defined as anything other than a freely associating religious grouping of individuals. Indeed, within the State of Israel, anytime a legal attempt has been made to establish “Who is a Jew”, those who have ideas that a Jew is something other than someone who holds a belief in the religion of Judaism, to any greater or lesser extent, or however tenuously; have been defeated in Israels own courts.
Roselle Tekiner, in a brilliant essay, “The Who is a Jew? Controversy in Israel: A Product of Political Zionism” [ ANTI-ZIONISM, Analytical Reflections ed: Tekiner, Abed-Rabbo, Mezvinsky, publ. Amana Books, Brattleboro, Vermont 1988 p.62ff] states “Secularists rejected this religious definition but could offer no satisfactory secular definition of a Jew.” (p.68) and thus as a result, the Basic Laws, “[are] replete with biblical expressions and with many terms of referral to Jews, but containing no definition of a Jew [italics for emphasis]. (thus) the controversial issue of who officially qualifies as a Jew in the state of Israel was left open to various and often conflicting interpretations.”
The D of E. confuses all who are not cognizant of distinctions, and in my view, does so deliberately on what is “Israel”. In fact, there are three Israels, as I have pointed out many times, and the D. of E. mentions all three. These three are
Eretz Israel Literally, “The Land of Israel”, i.e, the (Hebrew)biblical land assigned to the patriarch Jacob by God, as “an everlasting covenant”, ON CONDITION, which in one biblical passage is stated to go from “The river Nile to the great river, the River Euphrates.” Of course, the fact that the drainage basin of the Nile is far greater than that of the Euphrates, would in effect make the Nile, “the great river”. Of course those who inscribed these words at that time, would not have known that since the majority of the Nile basin was unexplored territory. However one would think that an omnipotent power would be aware of this, presuming that this self-same power made the Earth which prior was “without form and void”, in the first place.
Indeed, the D of E. begins by stating “ERETZ ISRAEL was the birthplace of
the Jewish people.” The Jewish People is in fact the second of the three Israels.
It is Klal YIsroel”, literally The People Israel (as distinct from the people of the State of Israel). The People Israel (Jews) are those who claim spiritual or direct descent from the Patriarch Jacob, whom God renamed Israel (Heb: God-
wrestler), after Jacob wrestled with the Angel on that fateful night, and had his thigh muscle torn (which is why to this day, the eating of the thigh muscle is prohibited by those who observe the laws of Kashruth [kosher].).
Lastly, there is the modern state of Israel, established by the D. of E. on 15 May
1948, and is directly referred to several times in that document.
paragraph 11 “We, members of the Peoples Council,hereby declare the establishment of A JEWISH STATE, in ERETZ-ISRAEL to be known as The State of Israel [ Medinat Israel ].
Paragraph 13 “THE STATE OF ISRAEL, will be open for JEWISH IMMIGRATION and for the Ingathering of the Exiles.”
Paragraph 14 “THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resoultion of the General Assembly of the 29th November 1947 [UNGA 181 ], and will take steps to bring about the economic union of THE WHOLE OF ERETZ-ISRAEL [ hmmm..I bet virtually everyone overlooks this small notation. What precisely IS “the whole of Eretz-Israel”? Is it that which was the borders of the British Palestine Mandate? Is it the Hebrew Bible notion of Eretz-Israel whose borders extend from the heart of modern Egypt to Iraq? Is Jordan, Palestine as the Likud keeps insisting?
In truth it is this very brief notation almost thrown in as an afterthought,
Which Ben-Gurion himself used as the justification to NEVER DEFINE
THE STATE OF ISRAELS INTERNATIONAL BORDERS!!
The D. of E. contradicts itself several times:
The most glaring contradiction is that it proclaims Medinat Israel as a State within Eretz Israel, specifically as a state, not for its inhabitants but for one grouping of people, JEWS, everywhere they may be found. “the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth IN ITS OWN COUNTRYwas recognized in The Balfour Declaration (this is not true, see below) and reaffirmed in The Mandate of the League of Nations (again not true, see below), while at the same time “foster(ing) the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitantsit will insure COMPLETE EQUALITY of SOCIAL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex..” Either the architects of this document were suffering from cognitive dissonance or they were being deliberately deceptive.
It is rather hard to understand how a state can be established for one group and defined in that document as a privileged class, while at the same time proclaiming equality for all others who are not members of that group.
The D. of E. makes misstatements of fact:
(a) “Eretz-Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people” technically and according to the Bible it was the birthplace of The Hebrew People, of which Jews as a distinct group only became recognized as such after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the remaining southern Kingdom, Judea, persisted for a while longer. Those living in Judea were Judeans or in brief, Jews. Hence the name.
Of course history records that after the fall of Judea (and Benjamin-a client state), Jews were expelled and wound up in Babylon, where of course The Talmud (the one most followed, not the Jerusalem Talmud, the secondary one) was composed over many generations, first as The Mishneh Torah and then the commentaries on that known as The Gemarrah. Both of these two documents combined constitute The Talmud. The Talmud is the body of religious law formulated for Jews as a guide to how to conduct themselves properly within Jewish society, and some of it of course is commentary and expostulation on the Tenakh The Hebrew Bible. Think of it in modern terms as decisions by the Supreme Court (the writers of the Talmud) based on the Constitution (The Tenakh).
(b) “Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland”. Simply not true. During the long course of history, after the fall of the kingdoms, there were periods where Jews could freely immigrate to what became known as Palestine, and there were periods when they were excluded. This freedom of movement vs. restriction is not unique to Jews (see the Chinese Exclusion Act of the United States in the 20th century.) Moreover, pious Jews (ultra-Orthodox), such as members of the Satmar Hasidim or the Neturei Karta, maintain that Jews may not return to form a reconstituted State until the Messiah comes to Earth. (Obviously, here is the disparity which separates Jews from Christians.). Since “moshiach” has not yet arrived, (and no, it was not the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, ztl, as some of his fervent accolytes had hoped) these pious Jews do not recognize Medinat Israel as legal. One would be hard put to try and affix the attack of “self-hating Jew” to these people, as they are among the most religiously observant of Jews, and strive to obey the 613 mitzvot (the law) to the best of their capacities.
(d) “They made the deserts bloom” Yes, and there is a bridge in Brooklyn still for sale to all comers. Has anyone noticed that the Negev is STILL the Negev. You cannot make a desert bloom there is no topsoil. That is why deserts stay deserts (inspite of those really nifty special effects in The Return of The Mummy which by the way in this writers opinion is extremely arch and funny, and in which, for just about the first time in the annals of American film, the Arabs are portrayed as “the good guys”. At least to a mass audience. )
“loving peace but knowing how to defend itself” No comment.
“the right of the Jewish People to national rebirth in its own countrywas recognized in the Balfour Declaration” No it wasnt! The Balfour Declaration for all intents and purposes was nothing more than a letter of intent, in which in the form of a private letter from Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild, “His Majestys Government VIEW WITH FAVOR.” They were not as the wording shows, adamant at all, just predisposed to this “the establishment in Palestine, of A national HOME”. Not THE home (the definite article vs. the indefinite article was the subject of months of back and forth debate Two excellent and voluminous books cover this entire topic (1) The Balfour Declaration by Stein and (2) The High Walls of Jerusalem by Sanders) but A home. Not a COUNTRY but merely a place of residence, a home. Of course in the German translation the declaration declares a “heimstatte”, which muddies the concept.
Moreover, all official records of the Zionist Congress and the Zionist organization at the early dates were kept in the German language.
The D of E. also does not of course mention the two caveat phrases of the B.D. either, but then, neither did they when I attended afternoon Hebrew School back in the middle 1950s, as a young boy.
“and re-affirmed in the Mandate” Same deal here. The B.D. was incorporated into the Mandate, which was the very first time it was recognized in International Law (that many do not recognize the jurisdiction is of course a valid point. However the incorporation of the B.D. into the Mandate, established it in law. This was precisely why over 300 prominent U.S. Jews of the time, spearheaded by 31 signatories sent a letter to President Wilson urging that he prevent this from occurring.
“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.” – The presumption made here is that the Jews who were killed during the reign of the Nazis were stateless individuals. ALL of the Jews (except perhaps for an extremely insignificant number) killed were bonafied citizens of the countries which the Nazis overran in their attempt to conquer the world. As a matter of fact, in Denmark, the King placed the yellow Mogen David band which the Nazis required all Jews to wear on his arm in a show of solidarity with the Jewish citizens of Denmark. The message was clear not only in Denmark but other countries as well.
“Survivors of the Nazi holocaust (note no capital H yet) in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Eretz-Israel”
When asked, most D.P.s (such as the mother and father of Morton Klein of the ZOA) chose to go to one of the western countries such as the U.S., U.K, Canada, Australia etc. if they could. Only a very small minority chose Palestine as their first choice. This was a major embarassment to the Yeshuv at the time, and the Mossad (whose original function was to ferret Jews to Palestine) worked rather hard to make it seem as if most Jews who had lost their homes in Europe and survived wanted to go to Palestine.
Yet what is important to note is how much this document plays on the Nazi holocaust as it seeks to justify its establishment. This tactic was seen by the Zionists as a golden opportunity to take advantage of the sense of guilt immediately post war, to “facilitate the achievement of this object” as the Balfour Declaration had stated thirty years earlier. This matter is discussed extensively by several authors, some of whom have appeared on MMN, including Marc Ellis, Tom Segev, Avi Shlaim and others.
“This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.” Well no it isnt. The resolution was a General Assembly resolution which according to the United Nations charter does NOT carry the force of law. Only Security Council resolutions (such as 242, 338) carry the force of law. UNGA 181 was nothing more nor less than a proposal by the world body. UNGA 181 was based (after much arm twisting) on the majority report of the UNSCOP. The minority report, which favored a federal structure (a one-state solution) ought to be ressurrected in this authors view, in light of the current circumstances.
Moreover, in that “recognition” the City of Jerusalem and its environs was designated as a “corpus separatum”, an independent entity belonging to neither the proposed Jewish State or the proposed Arab State. Although, many nations have subsequently given diplomatic recognition to the State of Israel, the takeover by Israel of Jerusalem (either part) has never been recognized, which is why all embassies of world governments (save two) remain in Tel Aviv, which was originally designated as part of The Jewish State under UNGA 181.
“The Jewish People” “like all other nations”. It is still a very strong point of contention, between Zionist Jews and anti-Zionist Jews as to whether or not Jews are “a people” or merely a freely associating group of individuals in a religious denomination, which may be entered or exited at will. Thus Rabbi Elmer Berger spoke of many “JEWISH PEOPLE” as distinct from “The Jewish People”.
As for “nations”, it is also highly speculative as to whether Jews constitute a nation in the sense that that word is understood. Certainly under Zionist philosophy, the Law of Return has Jews as nationals of the Jewish State. All others are NOT nationals of the Jewish State, but they may become citizens.
In all western democracies the words national and citizen are synonymous. In Israel they are two distinct entities.
Thus, when after the United States Declaration of Independence, “all men” were “created equal” (at least in the ideals of that time) and later on “in order to form a MORE PERFECT union”, the Constitution of the United States was established -at least in theory all men had equal rights under the law (as long as they were literate, owned property and were not women or blacks who legally in the constitution were 3/5 of a human being for purposes of census and representation in Congress). Women gained the franchise at the beginning of the 20th century after much lobbying. Blacks became fully human after the Civil War. Property ownership and literacy were no longer tests for right to vote in the middle of this century.
Under the Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel, although it makes a parenthetic reference to “ensur(ing) complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”, it is clear that the thrust of the document, and indeed the clear intent is what George Orwell stated in Animal Farm, “Some of us are more equal than others.”