Israel’s Declaration and its dubious facts

In 2016, the veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery was called upon to take part in a ceremonial reading of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Having read through the document he said: “I was not impressed. It is not written in the edifying style of an historical document, but as a document with a mission: to convince the nations of the world to recognize our state. The introduction is a reiteration of Zionist slogans. It purports to set out the historical facts, and very dubious facts they are…”

I decided to read the document myself to catalogue the ‘dubious’ facts, and found a few more than Uri mentioned. Below, I list the dubious clauses: my comments follow.

1. ERETZ-ISRAEL [(Hebrew) – the Land of Israel, Palestine] was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

Palestine was not the birthplace of the Jewish people. The Hebrew tribe had its origin in Mesopotamia. Its religious identity was shaped in the Sinai desert. Its settlement in the area later called Palestine was enabled by a vicious war of conquest in which the existing Canaanite population was wiped out.

2. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.

The Jewish people did not hope for restoration of political freedom in Palestine. Their theology regarded the return to Palestine as an end-times event which would be led by the Messiah. The idea of European Jews ‘returning’ to Palestine to establish a Jewish state (Zionism) arose only in the latter half of the 19th century, and was supported only by a minority of Jews.

3. Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. Pioneers, ma’pilim [(Hebrew) – immigrants coming to Eretz-Israel in defiance of restrictive legislation] and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country’s inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.

Jews were not continuously striving to establish themselves in Palestine. Those who migrated to the middle east and other places before the first Zionist aliyah (1890s), for example the Spanish Jews (1492), did so to escape persecution, and few settled in Palestine. The “recent decades” refers to the British Mandate under which the British authorities had full powers of administration. It was they that “brought the blessings of progress to all the country’s inhabitants”, through developments in agriculture and infra-structure. Although Jewish capital and enterprise did contribute to these developments, the Jewish Agency had no interest in helping the Arab population. Zionists who bought agricultural land from Arab land owners replaced the Arab workers with Jews; those Zionists who established new industries employed only Jews.

4. In the year 5657 (1897), at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country.

The Basel Declaration of the First Congress said “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine.” No mention of a ‘right’ to do so: no mention of the concept of a Jewish ‘nation’.

5. This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of the 2nd November, 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home

The Balfour Declaration said that the British Government “looked with favor” on the idea of a Jewish national home in Palestine: there was no mention of any ‘right’ for the Jews to have such a home.
Nor is such a ‘right’ acknowledged in the Palestine Mandate. It uses the term ‘right’ in connection with Jews only once, referring to Jews outside Palestine. It uses the term ‘right’ four times  in connection with the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine.

6. The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people – the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe – was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.

The refugees from Europe were homeless, but the Jewish people as a whole were not homeless. Jews had been living for generations within many of the world’s nations, and regarded their country of residence as their homeland.

7. Survivors of the Nazi holocaust in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Eretz-Israel, undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom and honest toil in their national homeland.

Not all of the refugees and survivors wanted a life of honest toil in Palestine. Many would have preferred to go to the United States, but were prevented from doing so by very severe restrictions in immigration which continued until 1948.

8. In the Second World War, the Jewish community of this country contributed its full share to the struggle of the freedom- and peace-loving nations against the forces of Nazi wickedness and, by the blood of its soldiers and its war effort, gained the right to be reckoned among the peoples who founded the United Nations.

The United Nations was founded in 1945. Its Members were States, not peoples. In 1945 Palestine was a Mandated State, but unlike the Colony of India it was not a founding Member of the United Nations.

9. On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable. This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.

The Resolution did not call for a Jewish State in Palestine: it recommended a plan in which Palestine would be divided into three components: a Jewish state, an Arab state, and the Holy City of Jerusalem, with the three of them forming an Economic Union, controlled by an Economic Board whose decisions were binding on the three entities, and on which foreign members appointed by the UN had the casting vote. The Resolution did not ‘require’ the inhabitants to take steps to implement it, it ‘called upon’ them to do so.The Resolution did not recognize a ‘right’ for the Jewish people to establish a Jewish State in Palestine.


The Declaration was not made on the ‘strength’ of the UN Resolution. The Plan of Partition with Economic Union specified a process in which power was transferred gradually from the Mandatory to a Commission set up by the UN and then from the Commission to the two states. The states were not to be independent sovereign states in the usual sense, because they were under the control of the Economic Board. There was no place within this process for a unilateral declaration of independence by either of the states.  Israel’s Declaration pre-empted the process specified in the Plan and was made in defiance of Resolution 46 of the UN Security Council.

11..WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People’s Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People’s Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called “Israel”.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

These final two paragraphs express many noble intentions. I leave it to readers to count how many of these have been fulfilled.

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10 things you may not know about the Israel-Palestine conflict

1. From the beginning it was the aim of the Zionists to create a sovereign Jewish State in ALL of Palestine, plus some territory from outside Palestine, and transfer the Arab population to the neighbouring states.

In 1917, when the Zionists were discussing the Balfour Declaration their proposal for its wording was: “His Majesty’s Government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people”.

In 1919, when they presented a map of the territory they wanted for their state to the Paris Peace Conference, it included not only all of Palestine, but also a strip of territory to the east of the Jordan river, plus territory extending to the north-west into Lebanon, south west into Sinai, (part of Egypt) and north-east into the Golan Heights, (part of Syria).

In 1919, US President Wilson sent the King-Crane Commission to Palestine: they concluded that “the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase.

It was during the Mandate, in the late 1930’s, following the Arab revolt, that the Zionists concluded that the Palestinian Arabs would never accept the existence of a Jewish State within Palestine, and that it would be necessary to transfer the Arabs into the surrounding Arab states. They supposed that the Palestinian Arabs would accept this: they would not be moving far, and they would be among fellow Arabs, with no Zionists to annoy them.

But the Palestinians had a strong sense of national identity dating back to the time of the Crusades, and there was no possibility that they would accept transfer.

2. Jewish leaders in Britain and the US did not support Zionism, and the number of Jews immigrating to Palestine was very low in the early years of the Mandate.

In 1917 Edwin Montagu, a Jewish member of the British Government, wrote a memorandum explaining why he thought Zionism was antisemitic.:

I assume that it means that Mahommedans [Muslims] and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Musims in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews will hereafter be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine”.

The Zionists also talked to the leading British rabbis, who made it clear that they were happy to remain in Britain as British citizens.

In the USA, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations  (Reform Jews) said this:

We are opposed to political Zionism. The Jews are not a nation but a religious community. Zion has a precious possession of the past, the early home of our faith, where our prophets uttered their world-subduing thoughts, and our psalmists sang their world-enchanting hymns. As such it is a holy memory, but it is not our hope of the future. America is our Zion. Here, in the home of religious liberty, we have aided in founding this new Zion, the fruition of the beginning laid in the old. The mission of Judaism is spiritual, not political. Its aim is not to establish a state, but to spread the truths of religion and humanity throughout the world”.

A delegation of American Reform Jews went to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to argue against the Zionists.

In 1947 the British Government’s report to the UN at the end of the Mandate included this remarkable sentence:

“In 1928 there had been a net Jewish immigration of only 10 persons, but between 1930 and 1936 over 182,000 entered the country.”

Note the word ‘net’. A very small number of Jews emigrated to Palestine, and some of those did not like it and returned home. The large number of immigrants in the 1930’s and 1940’s was the result of persecution.

3. The Jewish immigrants did not come to an empty and barren land.

In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a thriving agricultural industry in Palestine: wheat shipments saved southern France from famine on several occasions. Other exports, to Europe and the middle-east, included wheat and barley, olive oil and soap, and, of course, the famous Jaffa oranges: the 1880 harvest was 36 million oranges.

4. The Palestinians, wherever they are, remain citizens of Palestine.

In 1925 the British Administration in Palestine introduced a citizenship law.

“Turkish subjects resident in the territory of Palestine upon the 1st day of August 1924 shall become Palestine citizens.” Subsequently anyone born in Palestine would be a citizen, as would anyone born outside Palestine to a father who was a citizen.

Zionists often say that there has never in history been a State of Palestine. They are wrong: Mandatory Palestine had all the requirements of a State: It had a government, a population, defined borders, and relations with other states.

Now, its inhabitants were citizens: Palestinians.

The Mandate said that Jewish immigrants could become citizens, but only a small proportion of them applied: no doubt the others were waiting to become citizens of the Jewish state when it was declared.

5From 1939 onwards the Zionist leaders instigated a campaign of “wholesale terrorism” against the British administration and the Palestinians.

In 1939 the British Government decided to restrict the rate of Jewish immigration into Palestine, in the hope that the Arabs would accept the presence of the Jewish immigrant community as they, the Arabs, would be the majority population.

In their report at the end of the Mandate the British Government explained how this policy failed.

The control of illegal immigration was the principal cause of a steady increase in Jewish terrorist activities. From that year until the end of the war, Jewish extremists carried out a number of political murders, robberies and acts of sabotage, while Haganah (an illegal military force controlled by the Jewish Agency) organized the theft of arms and ammunition from the British forces in the Middle East. (They also bought weapons from Czechoslovakia)

Once Germany had been defeated, these activities increased in scale and intensity as the efforts of Zionist terrorist gangs were supplemented by those of Haganah, the militia of the Jewish Agency. Communications were attacked throughout the country; Government buildings, military trains and places of entertainment frequented by Britons were blown up; and numbers of Britons, Arabs and moderate Jews were kidnapped or murdered.”

6. The Partition Plan was NOT a plan to create two independent sovereign states.

FIRST: there was to be freedom of transit and visit for all residents or citizens of both states and of the City of Jerusalem. The people were free to travel anywhere within Palestine. Sovereign states have control of their borders.

SECOND: the states were to be linked together in an Economic Union. This went far beyond a common currency and customs union. The Union was to be responsible for: railways; inter-state highways; postal, telephone and telegraph services; ports and airports involved in international trade and commerce; joint economic development, especially in respect of irrigation, land reclamation and soil conservation.

The Economic Union was to be controlled by a Board of representatives: three from the Jewish State, three from the Arab state, and three foreigners appointed by the UN. The decisions of the Board were to be binding on the states. Changes to the Economic Union could only be made with the approval of the UN General Assembly.

The Plan was more like a confederation, under UN supervision, than the creation of two independent sovereign States.

7. The British Government prevented the Partition Plan from being implemented.

The Plan included a program for its implementation. This involved a Palestine Commission of five UN Member States which would gradually take over power from Britain in the run-up to the end of the Mandate. The Commission would appoint provisional governments for each state, which would set up constituent assemblies and hold elections, the aim being for the two states to become independent no later than two months after the end of the Mandate.(1st August 1948)

The British Government rejected the Plan because they believed it was unjust to partition Palestine without the consent of the Arab population. They brought back the date of the end of the Mandate to May 14 1948, and prevented the Commission from entering Palestine until two weeks before that date, making it impossible for the Plan to be implemented.

8. On May 14, 1948, the last day of the Mandate, Israel declared its borders to be those of the Partition Plan.

The Zionist leadership met in Tel Aviv from May12,1948 to May14 to prepare the declaration of an independent Jewish state in Palestine, to take effect on May14 at midnight, when the British Mandate over Palestine would come to an end.

The National Administration, the embryonic Provisional Government under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion as Prime Minister and Defence Minister met on Wednesday, May12. They considered it very important to have the support of the United States, and their first step was to telephone Chaim Weizmann, the Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, currently in the US, asking him to write a personal letter to President Truman appealing to him to recognize the new state.

They went on to consider a previously prepared draft declaration. There was heated discussion about the borders. Some said it would be “impolitic” to proclaim the State without announcing its borders, presumably because Israel would lose the support of other states if it did not adopt the borders specified in the Partition Plan

Ben-Gurion argued strongly that they should say nothing about the borders, because it was his intention tocapture territory outside the Plan borders and include it in the State.

Weizmann’s letter to Truman had done the trick. On May 14, when the Zionist leadership in Tel Aviv was finalising the Declaration of Independence, Eliahu Epstein, representative of the Jewish Agency in the USA, received a call from Clark Clifford, a close adviser to President Truman, saying that Truman would recognize the new Jewish state if Epstein could submit a formal request by noon (6 p.m in Tel Aviv). Clifford also said thatit was particularly important to claim nothing beyond the boundaries outlined in the UN Resolution”.

Epstein made the border definition in the first sentence of the letter sent to President Truman requesting recognition:

My dear Mr. President: I have the honour to notify you that the State of Israel has been proclaimed as an independent republic within the frontiersapproved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947, and that a provisional government has been charged to assume the rights and duties of government for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel.(my emphases)

Truman replied: ““This government has been informed that a Jewish State has been proclaimed in Palestine and recognition has been requested by the government thereof. The United States recognizes the Provisional Government as the de facto authority of the new state of Israel”.

On the next day, May15, The US State Department informed the world’s presses about Epstein’s letter and Truman’s response.

On May 22 the Israel Government wrote a letter to the UN Security Council:

The Provisional Government of Israel exercises control overthe entire area of the Jewish State as defined in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947. In addition, the Provisional Government exercises control over the city of Jaffa; north-western Galilee, including Acre, Zib, Base, and the Jewish settlements up to the Lebanese frontier; a strip of territory alongside the road from Hilda to Jerusalem; almost all of new Jerusalem; and of the Jewish quarter within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The above areas,outside the territory of the State of Israel, are under the control of the military authorities of the State of Israel, who are strictly adhering to international regulations in this regard.

In 1948 everyone in the world knew that Israel’s declared and recognised borders are those specified in the Partition Plan. Somehow the Zionist machine has convinced the world that it never happened.

I have spoken to Israeli citizens who do not know about it: and also Zionist propagandists who do not know about it. There are also Israeli historians who do not know about it, international lawyers who do not know about it, and writers about the Israel-Palestine conflict who do not know about it.

It is important that the world knows about this border declaration. Because Israel has specified its borders to be those of the Partition Plan, and has been recognized on those borders, Israel has no legal right to incorporate into itself any territory outside those borders.

9. The wars of 1948-49 and 1967 were aggressive wars of conquest by the forces of Israel.

On June 3 1948 Ben-Gurion, who was defence minister as well as prime minister, made a report to the Provisional Government which made clear Israel’s aggressive intent towards Palestinian territory:

We have conquered several important districts outside those [Partition Plan] boundaries. Our forces are striking at the Arab Triangle and they stand at the gates of Jenin. Tulkarm is under attack and Nablus quivers with fear. To the greatest possible extent, we will remain constantly on the offensive, which will not be confined to the borders of the Jewish State.”

On 29 June,1949 Foreign Minister Sharett gave a speech in the Knesset about the frontiers of Israel:

Those who try today to revive the territorial principles of November 29, 1947, as a basis for the final definition of the frontiers of Israel, ignore all that has happened in this country since that date. Nothing has occurred to invalidate in the slightest degree the justification of the inclusion within the boundaries of Israel of any of the areas allotted to the Jewish State in that Resolution.

On the other hand, many grave events have occurred which by blood, fire and pillars of smoke have proved the absolute indispensability to Israel’s security, indeed to her very existence, of territories now under her jurisdiction outside the November 29 award… Israel’s soldiers did not sacrifice their lives in gaining for their State defence positions and security zones in order that the political leaders of the nation should throw away this sacred, blood-drenched patrimony.

Putting aside the rhetoric, his claim is that Israel needs to hold territory outside its declared borders in order to maintain defence positions and security zones. But what will happen if it needs to defend those borders? Will it need to acquire more ‘security zones’ outside those borders? This is a recipe for perpetual conquest.

The 1967 war between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, starting on June 5th, was a comprehensive defeat for the Arabs. Israel gained control of the Sinai peninsula (part of the sovereign territory of Egypt); the Gaza strip (part of the territory of Palestine, under the military control of Egypt); the Golan heights (part of the sovereign territory of Syria); and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (Jordanian territory, held in trust for the Palestinian people).

It was now controlling all of Mandatory Palestine, plus territory in Egypt and Syria. The war ended with a cease-fire under UN auspices, but no armistice agreement. In all four territories it started to build settlements for Jewish Israeli citizens, indicating its intention to permanently occupy those territories.

The perpetual conquest continues. Israel intends to illegally annex territory in the Jordan Valley. It claims this is for its security, but that is nonsense. Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan: no Jordanians are going to invade Israel.

10. The TWOSTATE solution will not work.

Within the Partition Plan 55% of Palestine was allocated to the Jewish state. In the 1948-49 war Israel captured a further 23% of Palestine, leaving it with 78%. Gaza and the West Bank constitute the other 22%.

Confining the Palestinians to 22% of their homeland, while giving 78% to the Zionist incomers who acquired it by a campaign of “wholesale terrorism” against the British authorities in 1942-47, forcing them to end the Mandate, and by two aggressive wars of expansion in 1948-49 and in1967, would be an injustice to the Palestinians of monumental proportions.

Furthermore, I calculate that the Palestinians would be living at a population density of 1,495/, more than three times greater than that of Israelis at 433/ Only city states like Singapore have such high population densities.

The Palestinians are not a people who would like to work in an office in a skyscraper: they are primarily agriculturists. My conclusion is that the Arab state as proposed in the conventional two-state solution would not be viable: The Palestinians would need much more territory than 22% of Palestine.

President Truman’s note to Israel in 1949 came to a similar conclusion: “Israel should be expected to offer territorial compensation for any territorial acquisition it expects to effect beyond the boundaries of Resolution 181”.

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When I wrote last year about the leaked draft of  the ‘Deal of the Century’, now titled “peace-to-prosperity”, I was impressed by its clearly stated intention to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Although there were many points that would disadvantage the Palestinians, I also found some points that were very positive for them. Now I have the opportunity to read the completed proposal. Continue reading

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In May this year the Israeli newspaper Israel Heyon published details of a document leaked from the Israel Foreign Ministry. It appears to be an outline of a proposal by President Trump’s emissary Jared Kushner to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict, the so-called “Deal of the Century”. The following discussion, based on an English version of the text from the Turkish news agency AA, comments upon the main points of the leaked document, concluding that it could be the basis of the first real breakthrough in resolving the conflict since 1967. Continue reading

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King-Crane Commission recommendations on Palestine

In 1919 US President Wilson sent a Commission to the territories of the former Ottoman Empire to investigate and make recommendations to the Paris peace conference about the future administration of those territories. The following is their recommendation for Palestine, taken from the Jewish Virtual Library.

We recommend serious modification of the extreme Zionist Program for Palestine of unlimited immigration of Jews, looking finally to making Palestine distinctly a Jewish State. Continue reading

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Historical documents about Palestine

There is a new page on this website which provides access to the collection of historical documents relating to Palestine published by PASSIA, the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs. See menu above.

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The One-State-Two-Nations Proposal:introduction&comments

The One-State-Two-Nations Proposal is a proposal to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. The two existing States of Israel and Palestine would unite to form a single sovereign State: the United State of Israel and Palestine (Usip).

Within the United State there would be two largely self-governing nations, Israel and Palestine, with a defined but open border between them. Each nation would maintain its existing national, legal, educational, cultural and religious institutions. The two nations would share the land while preserving their national lives and identities. Continue reading

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The Kairos Document

Kairos Document

A moment of truth,  A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering


We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God’s divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land. Inspired by the mystery of God’s love for all, the mystery of God’s divine presence in the history of all peoples and, in a particular way, in the history of our country, we proclaim our word based on our Christian faith and our sense of Palestinian belonging – a word of faith, hope and love. Continue reading

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Partition Plan Map

Partition Plan Map

Map of the UN Plan of Partition with Economic Union for Palestine, November 1947

Map of the UN Plan of Partition with Economic Union for Palestine, November 1947

The blue areas constitute the Jewish State, the pink areas the Arab State. Each is divided into three pieces with neutral crossing points between them. Just below Tel Aviv is the port of Jaffa, allocated to Arab State. The white region is the City of Jerusalem, under UN Trusteeship.

The map also shows the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line) which became the de facto border of Israel after its conquest of territories allocated to the Arab State in the Plan.


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The State of Israel: founded on lies

Recently, the veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery was called upon to take part in a ceremonial reading of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Having read through the document he said: “I was not impressed. It is not written in the edifying style of an historical document, but as a document with a mission: to convince the nations of the world to recognize our state. The introduction is a reiteration of Zionist slogans. It purports to set out the historical facts, and very dubious facts they are…” Continue reading

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