Israel’s Declaration of Independence was forged amid strife and turmoil. It was a birth that, everyone knew, would trigger war. Yet it was also a rare moment of unity and agreement. A joint historical, cultural, legal and – to a certain extent – religious case for a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. Today, this document looms large once again, and has emerged as a central point of contention as we Israelis debate the future character of our country.
Thirty-seven people signed Megillat Ha’Atzmaut. There were no Arabs, and for that matter no non-Jews, among them. But the group that did sign represented many factions of the Jewish population: There were Revisionists and Labor Party apparatchiks; capitalists and communists and socialists; kibbutznikim, moshavnikim and city folk; charedi rabbis and atheists.
Over the course of the past several months, our team has diligently tracked down the closest living relative of each one of these signatories, and interviewed them. We talked about their ancestors and families, about the promise of the Declaration, the places in which we delivered on that promise, the places in which we exceeded our wildest dreams, and also about the places where we fell short.
And it is through these descendants of the men and women who – with the strike of a pen – gave birth to this country of ours, that we wish to learn something about ourselves.