The Declaration of Independence, Herzliya • Photo: Ofer Vaknin

The Israeli Right wants to rewrite the Declaration of Independence. Here’s an up-to-date option

Lawyer Ilan Bombach argued that the ‘Declaration of Independence’ cannot serve as a constitutional basis — but what is the alternative?


By Noa Epstein [Translated by Sol Salbe]

The Declaration of Independence of the current Israeli government

Nir Hasson and Ran Shimoni reported this morning that the project to establish a museum that will display the Declaration of Independence has been held up after the Prime Minister’s Office and the Heritage Ministry refrained from transferring funds allocated to it. Surprise? Not if one takes seriously the words of lawyer Ilan Bombach yesterday, who argued in court that the Declaration of Independence was “hastily written” and could not serve as a constitutional basis, in part because its signatories were “37 people who were never elected.” [Haaretz history buff ] Ofer Aderet returned to the signing ceremony and explains that these “facts” are not exactly true, but they are not outright lies either.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see that the Right, who are currently in power, through their emissary Bombach, wants to go back to ’48, reopen the old contract — the Declaration of Independence — and rewrite it from the bottom up on the grounds that it does not represent them. So what would the rewrites look like if the document were drafted today, not hastily, and by those who represent the current government?

To save work to Bombach, Rothman and Co, we did the work for them. Therefore, let us turn immediately to the problematic paragraph, which the judges, like the right-wing leaders, honed upon:

“ THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles “ — so far so good (perhaps it is only worth emphasising the “Jewish” in bold).

“It will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants.” From now on, following the Nation-State Law (section 7a), it will be amended to: “Endeavor to develop the land for the benefit of Jewish settlement (national value), encouragement, establishment and consolidation thereof.”

“It will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.” Hello? Come on, Smotrich’s Decisive Plan explicitly states that emphasis must be placed on “erasing all Palestinian national hope.” Thus, it is so: “It shall be founded on the foundations of Jewish supremacy in light of Joshua’s vision” (Smotrich explained that he is basing himself the Rambam’s [Maimonides] commentary on the Book of Joshua, which explains that if these non-Jews do not flee, restrictions should be imposed on them “so that they shall be despised and downtrodden, and will not raise their heads in among the Jewish people,” and if they oppose this, “ no living soul should be left among them,” that is, all of them should be killed).

“It will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” Based on the Nation-State Law, which renders rights of non-Jews non-applicable, and in light of the indifference to wave of murders in the Arab community, and the government’s clear attitude toward women (Sami Peretz explains in today’s paper what diversity is in Smotrich’s eyes and what it looks like), as well as exemption of religious people from civic obligations, the proposed amendment is clear: “It will maintain complete equality of social and political rights for all its religious-Jewish-male citizens.”

“It will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.” And from now on: “Ensure the imposition of the Jewish religion and freedom from conscience, euphemisms, education and culture.”

“It will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.” Judging by Ben-Gvir’s insistence on ascending to the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and the arbitrary restrictions the government seeks to place on the ceremonies of the Orthodox churches, the new wording is: “Preserve the Jewish holy places (in their extended and imaginary interpretation) and abolish any sacred status for other religions.”

“And it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” The principles of the organisation we call Um-shmum? [Um is the pronounceable acronym of the UN in Hebrew.] That antisemitic institution? It is better like this: “Be as faithful to the principles of the United Nations as long they are anti-liberal and anti-democratic (Hungary, Poland, Russia and Turkey) and as similar other countries are added to the list.

Regarding the sentence at the end of the paragraph: “ THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel [Palestine]. Well, it is so ridiculous that there is no choice but to omit. It is a waste of space in declaration, and in any case a new sentence about the Temple must be formulated.