Another Tack: The first day

‘It is with great joy that I hereby close the Mandatory Police record book,” wrote an anonymous duty officer at Tel Aviv’s central precinct precisely as David Ben-Gurion recited the renascent Jewish state’s Declaration of Independence.

Just below that spontaneous hand-inscribed historic annotation, appears the first criminal entry ever in sovereign Israel’s annals. It documents the capture of a thief. He stole a book, perchance pointing to preferences peculiar to the People of the Book.

Several hours later, the first ship docked in the new state. It began its journey furtively five days earlier in Marseilles when Israel was still under British rule. Its 300 young passengers were outfitted with fake IDs, forged at the Hagana “laboratory” in France.

But the Teti would claim special distinction – it became simultaneously the last “illegal” aliya boat and the first legal one. The counterfeit visas proved superfluous. The vessel proudly hoisted the Israeli flag as the new day dawned. Because it was the Sabbath, the newcomers were issued their new country’s entry permits only at sundown.

With such seemingly ordinary bureaucratic yet emotionally charged tasks, the Jewish state adeptly began the business of self-determination. In time that would be presented to world opinion as inherently sinful. By its very brazen determination to be born, it would be asserted, Israel had displaced the Palestinians, condemning them to miserable refugee subsistence. Continue reading