Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel [in Hebrew]. In: Iton Rishmi [in Hebrew],Official Gazette of Israel.

Tel Aviv, 14 May 1948.

Folio. (4) pp. Unbound as issued. In near perfect condition.

Scarce first printing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, the seminal historical document that establishes the first Jewish state in 2.000 years. Contained in the first issue of the Official Gazette of the Israeli provisional government, this landmark publication was printed on the first day of the birth of Israel. A bound set of "Iton Rishmi" reprinting this historic publication was issued later the same year.

Formally entitled the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, the Israeli Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on May 14 1948, by David Ben-Gurion, the executive head of the World Zionist Organization, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and, shortly after, the first Prime minister of Israel. It declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.

"The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here, their spiritual, religious, and national identity was formed. Here, they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here, they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.
Exiled from Palestine, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom." Thus begins the seminal historical document that constitutes one of the most important political ones of recent times.

Immediately following the British army withdrawal earlier on May 14, war broke out between Jews and Arabs. Egypt launched an air assault against Israel that same evening. Despite a blackout in Tel Aviv-and the expected Arab invasion-Jews celebrated the birth of their new nation, especially after word was received that the United States had recognized the Jewish state. At midnight, the State of Israel officially came into being upon termination of the British mandate in Palestine.

"Using the American Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution as philosophical frameworks, a small group of attorneys and politicians pieced together Israel's Declaration of Independence. Other important political decisions pertaining to Jewish statehood were left until the last minute: the location of the State's capital, its final name, and how to bring together several Jewish military organizations under one command. Military operations, particularly those around the Jewish settlement at Kfar Etzion, south of Jerusalem, diverted attention from final decisions about these matters. Also pressing on David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency and future first Prime Minister of Israel,was the request by President Truman's White House asking for a formal written request for recognition.
On Friday, May 14, following some debate, the National Council, established to oversee the political needs of the Jewish community in Palestine, voted to accept the final text of the Declaration. That afternoon at 4 pm, David Ben-Gurion, head of the National Council, read the Declaration at the Tel Aviv Museum. Without electricity in Jerusalem, few there heard Ben-Gurion's words or the singing and playing of 'Hatikvah,' Israel's national anthem. That morning, Ben-Gurion, uncertain about the coming war with Arab states, had his secretary secure a safety deposit box at a local bank so that the Declaration could be immediately placed there for safekeeping.

The Declaration was a synopsis of Jewish history to 1948 and a statement of Israel's intent toward its inhabitants, neighbors, and the international community. It was divided into four parts: 1) a biblical, historical, and international legal case for the existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel; 2) the self-evident right of the Jewish people to claim statehood; 3) the actual declaration of statehood; and 4) statements about how the state would operate, including an enumeration of citizen rights. In keeping with the UN Resolution that provided international legitimacy for Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, the requirement to have a constitution was stated. Israel's objective to institute a constitution was postponed indefinitely in June 1950.

Noteworthy similarities and differences exist between the American and Israeli Declarations of Independence. Both declarations assert independence and the right of their populations to control their own destinies, free from legislative impositions and despotic abuses. In the Israeli case, however, immediate past history was included, and it reflected earlier Jewish catastrophes and the prospects of potential physical annihilation. Both declarations sought self- determination, liberty, and freedom derived their claims based on human and natural rights, promised safeguards for the individual, and proclaimed an interest in commerce or economic growth.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence contained a list of historical claims to the land of Israel. The Declaration cited benchmark historical events when the international community sanctioned the Jewish state's legitimacy, particularly the acknowledgement to build a national home given by the League of Nations (1922) and by the United Nations (1947) to establish a Jewish state. While there were skirmishes going on between Americans and the British when the American Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, when Israel declared its independence it was in the midst of a full-fledged war for survival with the local Arab population and surrounding Arab states. The on-going war notwithstanding, the Israeli Declaration of Independence includes a declaratory statement offering "peace and amity" to its neighbors and the request "to return to the ways of peace." Both declarations made reference to a higher authority: the Israeli Declaration of Independence does not mention religion, but it closes with the phrase "with trust in the Rock of Israel [Tzur Yisrael]."1 The choice of this phrase was Ben-Gurion's verbal compromise, made to balance strong secular and religious pressures. Any precise mention of religion might have required mention of religious practice, which could have created enormous social fragmentation in the early fragile years of the state. By contrast, the American Declaration of Independence appealed to the "Supreme Judge, protection of the Divine." (Ken Stein, 2008, from:

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