March 24, 2017 -afternoon
After our visit to Ayalon, we drove to Tel Aviv and went to Independence Hall, the place of the signing of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948. Originally, it had been the home of Meir Dizengoff, one of the Founding Fathers of Israel and First Mayor of Tel Aviv. After his wife, Zina, died in 1930, Meir donated the building as an art museum, while he continued to live there in a small apartment built for him on the roof. In 1936, the building was enlarged and redesigned as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. In 1971 that museum has been moved to a larger building on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, and in 1978, for the 30th anniversary of the State of Israel, the Declaration Hall on the first floor of Independence Hall was restored to how it looked when Prime Minister Ben Gurion announced the establishment of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948.
The guide who explained the history of the building, including the beginning of Tel Aviv, then called Ahuzat Bayit, which means “homestead.” The 60 original families bought 12 acres of a “vinyard” from Bedouins – although nothing grew there but sand. They divided it into 60 lots for the 60 families, and the lot numbers were written on seashells while the names were also written on shells … A set of shells identified the land allotted to each family.
Notice the map held by the guide here. This was the way the United Nations originally divided up the land into two states – one to be Israel and one to be Palestine. The land the U.N. assigned as Palestine is in pink (Tom says it’s beige) and it contains almost all the central land while the land expected to become the Jewish homeland was a long squiggle around the edges with the most difficult-to-defend borders one can imagine. The larger blue “Israeli” area at bottom was almost entirely desert. Jerusalem is in white in the middle of the pink (Arab) area and theoretically to be under international control. Israel accepted the division proposed by the U.N., but the Arabs did not. They insisted that they should have the entire land in question.
We listened to a recording of Prime Minister Ben Gurion reading the Declaration of the State of Israel, followed by the Hatikva – the Jewish National Anthem. Hatikva means “The Hope.” Below I added Tom to the picture of Ben Gurion.
The day ended with Shabbat candle-lighting and dinner at the hotel.