WE "BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL": SCARCE FIRST PRINTING OF ISRAEL'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
(ISRAEL) [BEN-GURION, David]. "The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel." IN: Israel's Provisional Government Official Bulletin No. 1. Tel Aviv: 5 Iyar 5708 [May 14, 1948]. Slim folio (8-1/4 by 13 inches), bifolio, four pages. $16,500.
First printing of Israel's Declaration of Independence, the first issue of Iton Rishmi, dated May 14, 1948—"It is rare to register with such precision the moment when historical change is inaugurated."
May 14, 1948 was the final day of the British Mandate over Palestine, and as that day approached, various nations angled to determine the future, or lack thereof, of the proposed Jewish state. In an effort to finally bring their dream of a Jewish homeland to fruition, Jewish leaders seized the initiative and began preparations to create a government for a Zionist state. Spearheaded by David Ben-Gurion, leaders "established a 13-member National Administration and a National Council of 37 members, which would, upon the departure of the British Mandatory forces, become the provisional government and legislature of the Jewish State… A committee of five—David Remez, [Felix] Rosenblueth, Moshe Shapira, [Moshe] Shertok, and Aharon Zisling—was appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. The draft submitted by the committee on May 13 consisted of 22 articles… It was criticized as too long and flowery, and the final wording was entrusted to Ben-Gurion, Rabbi Y. L. Fishman (Maimon), A. Zisling, and M. Shertok. During the same evening Ben-Gurion prepared a final draft, which was approved by his colleagues on the committee." Debate on the final wording the next day, May 14, was fierce, with concerns about whether or not a state language should be named, the extent to which religion should enter into the document, and whether the borders of the nation should be delineated. Ultimately, it was decided that the document contain a brief history of the historical precedents for the foundation of the new nation, a description of the various authorities supporting the land's establishment, the reasons for its establishment, and a clear explanation of the temporary government that would lead it until a permanent structure was formed. "The Declaration of Independence concluded with a call to Jews throughout the world 'to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfillment of the dream of generations—the Redemption of Israel.' The excitement of the moment was articulated throughout the document…. It is rare to register with such precision the moment when historical change is inaugurated" (Troen and Luccas, eds, Israel: The First Decade of Independence, 1). When the majority approved the document, Ben-Gurion then "requested that the Declaration be adopted unanimously in a second vote, whatever objections members might have to a particular item or aspect, and this was done" (Encyclopedia Judaica).
That same day, at 4:30 pm on Friday, May 14, 1948, Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence. His recitation of Israel's Declaration of Independence was broadcast throughout the entirety of the new state of Israel, and the nation, now a fait accompli, was quickly recognized by the United States and the USSR, assuring its acceptance. The National Council then immediately became the Provisional Council of State, with Ben-Gurion at its head, and it published the Declaration as its first official bulletin. That day has been celebrated every year since as Yom ha Azma'ut, Israeli Independence Day. First Israeli government printing of the Declaration. Its equivalent in U.S. history would be the John Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence. With names of the 37 members of the Temporary Government, headed by David Ben-Gurion, listed on page 2, rear page blank except for printer's name. Text in Hebrew.
Paper repair to fold; faint foldline. A near-fine copy.