Israel’s default constitution

“We’re declaring independence, nothing more,” David Ben-Gurion told Israel’s proto-parliament in the hours before the declaration, on Friday, May 14, 1948. “This isn’t a constitution. As for the constitution, we will have a session on Sunday, when we will deal with it.” But they didn’t deal with it on that Sunday, or on any subsequent day. Israel has no constitution.

Or does it? Does its declaration of independence double as a constitution?

This is the question I address in the seventh and final installment in my series on that declaration. I discuss the so-called “constitutional revolution,” the nation-state law, and other controversies that give new salience to the declaration. “I didn’t attribute much value to declarations,” said Ben-Gurion when asked about his role on May 14. “Not that they didn’t have great value, but at the time I didn’t make much of them.” But since then, Israel has relied heavily on its declaration of independence for guidance in the present. Can it hold up under the weight?

Read the finale at this link, at Mosaic. Since it’s the monthly essay, there may be responses, in which case, I’ll respond in turn. Stay tuned.

(Illustration: inaugural ceremony of the Israeli Supreme Court, September 14, 1948.)