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May 27, 1988 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-05-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I LIFE IN ISRAEL I

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AT LAHSER
IN SOUTHFIELD

Golda Meir shakes hands with Moshe Sharett after signing Israel's
declaration of independence. David Ben-Gurion is seated to the right.

Founder Remembers
Signing Of Declaration

SHELDON KIRSHNER

erusalem — Israel's
Declaration of Inde-
pendence, in the strict
sense of the term, is not law.
But the Israeli Supreme
Court, in its ruings, has in-
voked the document from
time to time as the embodi-
ment of Israel's true essence.
Promulgated in May 1948
as Israel emerged into na-
tionhood, the declaration
states that Israel "will be
open to Jewish immigration"
and that all its inhabitants,
regardless of ethnic
background, will be
guaranteed "freedom of
religion, conscience,
language, education and
culture . . ."
David Ben-Gurion, Israel's
first prime minister, presided
over that historic meeting in
ml Aviv. Ben-Gurion and 36
other members of Israel's pro-
visional government signed
what he described as "the
foundation scroll of the
Jewish state."
Forty years later, most of
the signatories have passed
from the scene. But one of
them, Moshe Kolodny, is very
much alive. Kolodny, who
later changed his name to
Kol, went on to become a
cabinet minister in three suc-
cessive Israeli governments
in the 1960s and 1970s.
"I feel it was a great
privilege to be one of the
signers," he said one recent
afternoon, leaning back
against a chair in his book-
filled apartment opposite the
elegant Laromme Hotel.
"Since my youth, I had
always dreamed of a Jewish
state."
Born in Pinsk, Kol was a
leader of the Zionist youth
movement in Poland. In 1932,
he immigrated to Palestine,

j

ostensibly to study at the
Hebrew University. Elected a
deputy member of the Jewish
Agency Executive in 1946, he
was appointed head of its
Youth Aliyah Department
two years later, a post he held
until 1964.
A founder and leader of the
liberal Progressive Party,
which later merged with the
Liberal Party, Kol was named
minister of tourism and
development in 1966 when
Levi Eshkol was prime
minister. Serving as minister
of tourism under Golda Meir
and Yitzhak Rabin, he was
instrumental in tapping
Israel's potential as a popular
travel destination.
Now 77 and white-haired,
Kol is frail in appearance. But
his mind remains sharp and
alert, and he reaches back in-
to the recesses of his memory
with all the ease of a much
younger man.
When the Declaration of In-
dependence was signed Kol
was only 37, the youngest
person in the provisional
government and the chair-
man of its Foreign Relations
Committee.
He was not actually present
at the signing ceremony, hav-
ing been in besieged
Jerusalem when the declara-
tion was officially proclaimed
by Ben-Gurion. Arab ir-
regulars had already sur-
rounded Jerusalem, and Kol
found it impossible to join his
colleagues in Aviv. "I
listened to . the historic
ceremony on radio," he said.

A little more than a week
later, Kol was flown by Piper
plane to Thl Aviv, where he af-
fixed his signature to the
document. Although he had
already shortened his sur-
name to Kol, he decided to
use Kolodny in honor of those
members of his family, in-

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