By Aryeh Savir
In a joint initiative between the Israel State Archive, “Land Marks” – the project to strengthen national heritage infrastructures and Google, Israel’s Declaration of Independence was photographed in a unique fashion and is accessible to the public at large on the internet.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, who visited the Independence Hall in Tel Aviv last Thursday (May 1), the house where David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel, was briefed on the initiative and said that the declaration, “sets as the cornerstone in the life of the state, the national Jewish identity of the State of Israel.” Relating to recent events, Netanyahu said: “To my great regret, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right. They seek to undermine the historic, moral and legal justification for the existence of the State of Israel as the nation-state of our people. The State of Israel will always preserve the full equality, in personal and civil rights, of all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, in a Jewish and democratic country. And indeed, in Israel, individual and civil rights are assured for everyone, which sets us apart in the large expanse of the Middle East and even beyond.”
The high resolution, quality photograph may be enlarged so as to enable the viewer to focus on particular details, including the signatures of the members of the Jewish People’s Council, the stitching between the sheets of parchment, the sheets of parchment themselves, the wax seal and the calligraphy in which it is written.
The original Declaration of Independence is kept in a climate-controlled safe at the Israel State Archive in Jerusalem and is not exhibited to the public. Therefore, the Archive – with the assistance of the plan to strengthen national heritage infrastructures in the Prime Minister’s Office – digitally photographed the document. Google provided the technology which enables the Declaration to be accessible to the public.
The Declaration of Independence is considered one of the most important documents created by the State of Israel and is the first document that reflects Jewish sovereignty since the Hasmonean kingdom in 116 BCE. It is also apparently the first document to reflect the desire for sovereignty via democratic agreement. The representatives of the various political factions in the pre-state community negotiated over every concept and formulation until they reached an agreed-upon document; the debate continued until close to the actual signing. The Declaration was read when independence was proclaimed on Friday, the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5708 (corresponding to May 14th, 1948). Twenty-five members of the Jewish People’s Council signed the document; twelve additional members who were in besieged Jerusalem signed later. The original document is 117 by 29.7 centimeters, is in three sections and bears a ribbon and a wax seal.
The declaration can be viewed here.
Tazpit News Agency