“All men are created equal… they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” These two principles, from the American Declaration of Independence, form the very bedrock of the United States. Did Israel, in declaring its independence in May 1948, assert the same principles?
In my latest (sixth) installment on Israel’s declaration of independence, I examine its treatment of rights. The bedrock of Israel isn’t individual rights; it’s the collective right of the Jewish people to independence in its own homeland. The fact that Israel has a secure Jewish majority makes it possible for the Jewish state to function as a democracy that recognizes the equal political rights of its citizens, and the collective rights of its minorities. But that majority wasn’t self-evident in May 1948, and the language of the declaration reflects it.
The word “democracy,” present in the drafts of the declaration, was ultimately struck. But the declaration does guarantee the “full and equal citizenship” of all. So just where does the declaration come down on the question of collective versus individual rights? And what’s the one right that is totally unique to Israel?
Read the full essay at Mosaic.