Sunday, July 25, 2010


One part of being in Tel Aviv is definitely partying. If you want a city in Israel to have a good time, Tel Aviv is the place. The one night we were there (which was not close to being enough time to experience the city) it was a White Night. Every store was open all night long, and my Aunt told me White Night refers to being tired the next day from being awake all night.

But Tel Aviv also has some historical points that are just as important as the nightlife there. Tel Aviv began as the Jewish suburb to Jaffa (Yafo), an Arab port city located on the coast. Jaffa is actually believed to be the oldest port city in the world, and I do remember memorizing its location for my map tests in my Ancient Israel class this last semester. In fact, it is believed trees from Jaffa were used by King Solomon to build the First Temple.

Jaffa itself has a lot of history associated with it for the Jewish, Christian and various other religions (There is a Greek Mythological association with the town) and despite my desire to list all of them here, since I did not visit the town this is not the time. So, we’ll have to save the Jaffa history lesson for when I do actually visit the city, or find another link to it.

Today’s history lesson is on Tel Aviv and the birth of the State of Israel. On May 14, 1948 the State of Israel was created, eight hours before the termination of the British Mandate.

What is cool about Independence Hall is the history the building had even before Israel became a state. The place chosen as the birthplace of a nation was the former home of Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, and one of the founders of the city.

In the early 1900’s the Jews of Jaffa wanted to have a place of their own away from the Arab city, so they purchased the land out north in the attempts of establishing a suburb town there. In 1909, sixty-six families gathered to divide up land plots of what would become Tel Aviv. The city began to be built and Dizengoff led the way in trying to make the area independent from Jaffa, eventually winning and becoming the city’s first mayor.

In 1936 Dizengoff died, leaving his house as an art museum for the city of Tel Aviv. His home would play a crucial role in independence. On my tour to the location the tour guide asked why we thought the site was chosen as the place to sign the declaration of independence. The room is very small, probably only fitting 250 people tops, so why on one of the most important days in the countries history did they pick to sign in Tel Aviv, instead of Jerusalem, and in that place?

During the war of independence Jerusalem was under siege, and it was not an option as a place to meet. In fact, Jerusalem was originally lost to the Israeli’s and Jews were not welcome there until the city was reclaimed during the Six Day War in 1967.

Another point the tour guide made was that there was a war at this time, and the location is partially underground with small windows, almost like a bunker.

The decision to declare a state came two days before it happened, so the chairs used were borrowed form local coffee shops, and the microphones were borrowed from a shop. Interestingly (for a journalism major that is) the first advertisement of the country was a sign on one of those microphones for the store the microphone was borrowed from.

Visiting this site was a different change of pace from the ancient history usually associated with the region, and was definitely enjoyable to learn about. As always feel free to leave comments and enjoy the pictures I (and some of my other tour mates) took there.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Schwartz. This is the front of the building.

Photo Credit: Becca Drowos. This is a good look at the room where Israel became a state.

Photo Credit: Becca Drowos. Another view of looking at the room.

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