Israeli and Palestinian Declarations of Independence
The two Declarations of Independence of Israel and Palestine follow a very similar trajectory. Both begin by establishing their right to the land by affirming their historical and religious roots in the area. They describe their people’s spiritual connection to the country as the birthplace of their respective religions and claim the right to establish a self-governing state safe for their people. Both documents describe the prosecution their people have faced and praise their fortitude and will. They both refer to the United Nations and use its authority to support their right to establish a state and denounce those who have challenged this right. They both claim that, despite the unjust and unprovoked attacks on their rightful lands and peace-loving people, they are willing to extend the hand of peace and fellowship towards their neighbors. The Israeli document proclaims, “We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now and for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace… We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness”. The Palestinian document makes similar statements, frequently referring to Israeli occupation of their lands and affirming their commitment to a peaceful resolution. Both documents conclude with a call to their people to remain strong and rally around their righteous calling of defending their homeland in accordance with their expressed desire for a peaceful state governed by themselves in which all peoples can be safe and work towards the betterment of their society.
Both documents use their religion to support their stance. Their religious history is used to assert their claim to the land. Because their religions were established in Israel/Palestine, their entire identity as a people is indelibly linked to the physical ground on which they stand. Religion is the basis on which their nation is formed. They both want to establish a place where their religious fellows can safely practice together without fear of prosecution. Religion and religious history are the fabrics that bind both peoples together and define their national identity. Unlike the Israeli document, the Palestinian declaration begins and ends with the statement “In the name of God”. They are both appealing to their God and using it, as the highest authority available in their eyes, to grant legitimacy as being within its will.
The two groups both use a combination of religion and shared history to define themselves. This is how both documents begin, and it is what lays the groundwork for their claim to sovereignty. Both groups speak of themselves in terms of a collection of people sharing the same religion who have a shared history as a result. They express the desire for sovereignty because they wish to find a place where others of their religion can live without fear of prosecution, something both groups use as a uniting force. They all share a history of being wrongfully attacked because of what they believe, and they both take pride in their people’s ability to survive despite this.
The Israeli declaration does not specifically address the Palestinians except in the reference to those attacking them in the statement quoted above. They have an “us versus them” mentality in that there are those who are part of Israel as they see it and there are those who are not. They speak of their neighbors in the abstract only. The Palestinian declaration is far more specific. They explicitly denounce Israel for invading and occupying their lands. To them, the Israeli are portrayed as the horrible invaders who make violence without reasonable cause.
Neither declaration specifically outlines how they foresee the other if they get their way. The closest either of them come is in saying their state will be one where all religions can be practiced freely. Specifically, the Palestinian document says, “governance will be based on principles of social justice, equality and non-discrimination in public rights of men or women, on the grounds of race, religion, color or sex…”. The Israeli document gives a very similar statement when it says, “[Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion…”.