It was a simple, almost informal ceremony of 40 minutes which established the Jewish state of "Israel."
Thus was born the first Jewish state in the Holy Land since 135 A.D. when the Bar Kohba state in the Holy Land rebellion was suppressed by the Roman legions.
David Ben-Gurion, first Premier of the newly proclaimed Israel announced the official rebirth of the Jewish nation in Tel Aviv Museum. Scarcely 400 people listen inside the small building protected by a Haganah guard of honor.
Jews attended the ceremony with almost religious fervor, and many of them did not even notice that no official representatives of the outside world were present.
Study in contrasts
Two years ago when I witnessed the birth of another state, the coronation of King Abudullah of Transjordan, not only high dignitaries of the Arab world but also diplomatic and consular representatives of a number of western powers were there.
Lt. Gen Sir Alan Cunningham, High Commissioner of Palestine, as well as a number of other British civil and military personalities were among the guests then and watched the colorful parade of Bedouin tribes, of Abdullah's picturesque camel-mounted forces, and of the Arab Legion on the airfield of Amman.
At Tel Aviv's historic act, only newspapermen represented the foreign world.
Among some 400 persons assembled, I saw the man who witnessed the whole history of Zionism from its inception to its fulfillment. He is the venerable Viennese Dr. Isidor Schalit, who was secretary to Dr. Theodor Herzl, the founder of world Zionist organization.
Topped fondest hopes
"When 51 years ago we decided at Basel to make Hatikvah the Zionist anthem and blue and white the colors to the Zionist flag, even a young optimist like myself did not dare to hope I should see with my own eyes how this flag and this anthem would become the national insignia of our state." Dr. Schalit told me with tears in his eyes.
While the streets of Tel Aviv, provisional Jewish capital, and other parts of Israel still were echoing from joy which had been increased by the unexpected and speedy United States recognition, the Jewish provisional government commenced, in spite of the Sabbath, its deliberations on fateful problems which the new state is facing.
The first act of the new 13-man Jewish cabinet was to revoke the British White Paper of 1939, restricting Jewish immigration and land purchase rights.
All other Palestine laws remain in force.
Questions of threated Arab invasion, application for membership at the United Nations, and the problem of immigration are the first items on the agenda.
Deliberations on the first two items are veiled with complete secrecy. Concerning immigration, the provisional Jewish government is deciding to transfer to Israel 24,000 Jews interned at Cyprus in the course of the next two months. A few thousand others are expected from Europe in the same period. The first day of existence of the new state, May 15, two ships are scheduled to arrive here with immigrants from Cyprus.
Preparations are being made to open passport offices and visa sections throughout the world. Palestine offices of the Jewish Agency, which hitherto existed in various parts of the world, are intact as visa sections of the state of Israel.
Official circles hope that absorption of the new flow of immigrants will not be too difficult as existing industry needs urgently some 20,000 more workers.
Seven hours before the state of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv, some 60 miles northward in Haifa the final ceremony of winding up the British mandate took place.
Exactly 30 years ago British General Allenby marched into Haifa and was greeted by both Arabs and Jews with flowers and cheers. This latest ceremony was not the case when another British General, Sir Alan Cunningham, last British High Commissioner, for Palestine, was leaving the same town. The British, who showed much administrative and political ability in various parts of the world, did not win support for their Palestine administration.