Here in this hall, the members of the National Council,
representatives of the Jewish settlements and the Zionist movement,
gathered on Friday, 5th of Iyar 5708, 14th of May 1948 in the afternoon,
to sign the Scroll of Independence.
Behind the table, David Ben Gurion, the Chairman of the Zionist Movement,
proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish State, Israel.
Independence Hall is located in the Rothschild Blvd. 16 in Tel Aviv,
formerly the house of Zinna and Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv's founding father
and first mayor, who bequeathed his home to the city as an Art Exhibition.
With the declaration of the Jewish State, 52 years after Herzl's
publication of "Der Judenstat" (The Jewish State), the Jewish
dream of about two thousand years became a reality. However, the people in
Israel still had to fight for their independence, defending their selves
against Arab irregulars and the regular armies of the Arab league, that
attacked the young state from all sides in the next few days.
Two days before the declaration, the situation for the National Council
was very complex: the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Road was blockaded by Arab bands,
and two members of the National Council were unable to arrive in Tel Aviv
for the historical decision. Golda Meirson (Meir) reported the results of
a secret night time meeting on 11th of May 1948 with Abdullah; King of
Jordan, the King had decided to withdraw from former agreements for
political arrangements to recognize the Jewish state, joining the Arabic
league preparations to invade Palestine directly after termination of the
British Mandate. Somber strategic estimates were provided by Israel
Galili, the head of the Haganah; Yigal Sukenik (Yadin), head of the
Haganah's Operations Department, depicted the dangerous situation, such as
weapon shortage and the very critical circumstances in Gush Ezion, which
finally fell into the hands of Arab bands between 12-14 of May 1948. Moshe
Shertok (Sharett), the future Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave a
detailed report about American State Department policy, on the one hand,
pressuring the Zionist Organization to postpone a declaration of
independence, in order to prevent an Arab invasion, and on the pro Arab
position of Great Britain. On the other hand, he reported the warm
sympathy he found from Andre Gromyko,the Russian representative at the
United Nation, who took a contrary position and opposed American policy,
after the Russian frustration in negotiations for oil concessions in
Moslem states, to such an extent, that USA officials were afraid that the
Jewish state would be become a bridgehead for Russian influence in the
After serious appraisal of the dangers in days of lengthy meetings before
the Declaration, on the 12th of May the Jewish National Council finally
decided to take advantage from the maybe unique opportunity provided by
the termination of the English Mandate to establish the State of Israel.
From now on, the State of Israel could set its own foreign policy and
import weapons to defend its independence as a sovereign state.
No borders of the state were mentioned in the declaration. When queried on
this point, Ben Gurion asked, "When the United States declared
independence, did it define its borders?".
President Truman did not agree with the policy proposed by the State
Department officials and his Secretary of State Marshall, who did not
support independence. He sent his adviser, Clark Clifford secretly to
Eliyahu Eilat, the Jewish Agency representative in the USA, to prepare a
request for recognition of the Jewish State when declared, and Clifford
even gave him the text requested by President Truman.
A interesting fact is, that when Eliyahu Eilat presented the request for
approval, he did not yet know name of the future Jewish State.
On the 15th of May USA recognized Israel , Guatemala followed and on the
17th of May Russia gave its official recognition.
Today, the Dissengov house serves as a Biblical Museum with rare editions,
printings and illustration, where another section of the building serves
as Museum of Zionism.
Independence Hall, where the State of Israel was declared, is preserved as
it was on that day.