Yom Haatzmaut – Israel Independence Day

From the Kansas City Star, May 14, 1948:

Israel as New Nation

Tel Aviv, Palestine, May 14. (AP)-The State of Israel, first Hebrew nation in 2,000 years, was born today in a Jewish declaration of independence asserting the “historic right” of the Jews of Palestine to reconstitute their national home.

The proclamation by the national council is effective at one minute after midnight, when Britain’s 31-year-rule of the Holy Land ends. The British high commissioner already has left Palestine soil for a British cruiser, and the British mandate government has left the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Prepared for Trouble

While Jewish forces and soldiers of the surrounding Arab countries prepared for war, the Jews proclaimed their “right to a life of dignity, freedom and labor.” The declaration said this right was recognized by the United Nations.

The Arab league, meanwhile, planned to set up an administration -not a state-of its own in Palestine to function with occupying Arab forces if and when Palestine is invaded.

(In London the Arab office declared the termination of the British mandate had created a disastrous situation in the Holy Land, but “will at least give the Arabs the opportunity which they have never had until now of resisting the invaders face to face and without the intervention of a foreign power which has hitherto given them its protection.”

(The general secretariat of the Arab league has proclaimed a state of war existing with Palestine Jewry. Syria and Lebanon declared a state of emergency in their countries. Trans-Jordan’s capital, Amman, appeared calm.) An Arab Victory.

As the Jewish state was born, the Arabs wrested their first real victory in Palestine. Arab, neutral and Jewish sources confirmed that Arab Legionnaires, supported by 2,000 tribesmen from the Hebron hills, wiped out four Jewish colonies in the Kfar Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, athwart the Arab invasion route from the south.

The informants said 2,000 Jews died in the battle, which ended last night.

The battle for the Bab El Wad gorge, lifeline Jewish link between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, raged unabated.

“The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people,” said the Jewish declaration of independence. “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.”

“The Nazi holocaust which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe.” it said, “proved anew the urgency of re-establishment of a Jewish state which would solve the problem of Jewish homelessness by opening the gates to all Jews and lifting the Jewish people to equality in the family of nations.”
Post to Ben-Gurion.

The Israel government, headed by David Ben-Gurion, called upon Arabs living in the Jewish state “to return to ways of peace and play their part in development of the state, with full and equal citizenship.”

“We offer peace and amity to all neighboring states,” the proclamation said.

Hours before the proclamation, Haganah ordered a partial black-out in Tel Aviv. Shopkeepers were ordered not to illuminate show windows. Air raid services in Tel Aviv put out detailed instructions on air raid precautions, which were carried in Hebrew newspaper.

Tension mounted as the hour of the proclamation neared.
To Draw Constitution.

The state declared its independence at 4:06 o’clock this afternoon (8:06 a. m., Kansas City time). Its proclamation said a constitution will be drawn up by a constituent assembly not later than October 1, 1948. Meantime, the present national council will act as the provisional state council.

The state promised to “uphold full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of shrines and holy places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the charter of the United Nations.”

The proclamation added:

“We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building of its state and to admit Israel into the family of nations.” “The Voice of Israel.”
A War Contribution.

In the uniform of a general of the British army, Sir Alan Gordon Cunningham, high commissioner, moved to the cruiser Euryalus, lying off Haifa, while bagpipes wailed the doleful strains of “The Minstrel Boy.”

An honor guard of the king’s company of guards and royal marine commandos snapped to attention. A 17-gun salute sounded. Royal air force Spitfires whirled overhead.

Cunningham drove out of Jerusalem early this morning. With him went the last of Britain’s long mandatory rule of the Holy City.

The dock area was lined with Comet tanks. Near the gates curious onlookers watched the high commissioner pass by. Briefly Sir Alan inspected the honor guard on the dock. Then he stepped aboard a launch. to go to the cruiser.

In Jerusalem two British sergeants went to the roof of the King David hotel, where the Palestine government had its headquarters for eleven years, and hauled down the British flag. Jacques de Reynier, Red Cross representative. handed up the Red Cross banner to replace it.

Near by the United Nations flag, a white globe and laurel crest on a blue field, hung limply over the annex of the King David, which the Palestine government had used as a storehouse for records and furnishings.

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