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    Declarations of (In)Dependence: Tensions within Zionist Statecraft, 1896-1948

    This article analyzes the relationship between dependence and independence in four foundational texts in the history of Zionist statecraft: Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State of 1896, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Biltmore Program of 1942, and the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. These documents differ greatly in authorship, structure, and audience, but taken together, they illustrate the Zionist project’s convergence with and divergence from anticolonial projects and postcolonial states in the first half of the twentieth century. Both the political program that Herzl sketched out in The Jewish State and Chaim Weizmann’s lobbying during the First World War depended upon the good graces of Europe’s colonial powers. After the war, jubilation among Jews over the Balfour Declaration was accompanied by displays of gratitude, an emotion associated with conditions of dependence. Like anticolonialism in India, Zionism was cautious about demanding outright independence, although the Zionists’ dependence upon Britain was far greater given their status as a minority of Palestine’s population, facing a hostile Arab majority. When the Zionists did demand independence in the Biltmore Program, they also acknowledged their ongoing dependence upon Britain, which they called upon to fulfill its Mandatory responsibilities. In 1948 the Zionists did not separate from Britain so much as Britain separated from Palestine. The Palestine war of that year was a struggle between Israel and Arabs, not between Israel and Britain. Accordingly, the state’s founding declaration was an assertion of creation, not separation, and of sovereignty, not independence from another power. Nonetheless, the document reflected dependence on the international community that had approved Palestine’s partition in November 1947.

  • May Your Sons Settle the Land: David Ben-Gurion’s Attitude toward Tel Aviv as Reflected in the Press

    With the establishment of the State of Israel and the reduction of power and political status that the Tel Aviv municipality had enjoyed under the British Mandate, an open confrontation erupted between the central government, led by the Mapai Party, and Tel Aviv’s municipal government, aligned with the General Zionists. This dogged struggle was thoroughly covered in the Hebrew press, which at the time consisted partly of partisan newspapers. This article examines and analyzes the attitude of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, toward Tel Aviv in particular and toward the process of urbanization in the state in general. Through the prism of Tel Aviv, the article defines and analyzes Ben-Gurion’s ambivalent attitude toward the emergent Israeli urbanization. To understand Ben-Gurion’s attitude toward both urbanization and Tel Aviv, the article also examines the underlying approach of the leadership of the Yishuv, and later of the state, toward cities as opposed to rural areas, and it considers the settlement strategy during the Mandate and the early years of the state. Did Ben-Gurion indeed seek to disperse Tel Aviv’s residents throughout the country? Did he turn his back on the city he had lived in and in which he had declared the independence of the State of Israel? The article deals with these and other questions.