Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cabinet protocols, end of June 1948: Emergence of the Intractables

Our series of cabinet protocols has its strengths, but also serious weaknesses. The main strength is in the ability to follow the topics which reached the table of Israel's Cabinet. The main weakness is that each protocol tends to be two or three pages long, while the stenogram of the meeting itself can reach hundreds of pages. Which means the protocols offer no more than a faint record of what was really going on. Still, being so short, it's easy to follow them. Reading the entire weekly stenograms so as to be informed about how Israel's leaders saw history as it was happening would be, how to say this: lots of work.

The brevity of the protocols from the last week of June 1948 is downright aggravating, however, for all that one can read them in five minutes. At least two topics were discussed which continue to be discussed until this very day: relations between the orthodox and non-orthodox sections of society, and the role of the state; and the relationship between the State of Israel and the Arabs living insides its borders. (At the end of June 1948 there were no clear borders, merely lines where the various armies had been positioned when the cease fire began, and which all sides intended to move as soon as the cease fire was over). Sadly, the protocols don't offer much information beyond the fact that these issues were raised.

Alongside the subjects which were to fester for the next 65 years and counting, there were some other more short-term decisions: a sub-committee was appointed to figure out the status of the national currency. Golda Meir was tasked with raising more money lest the immigration to Israel stop for lack of funds. It was decided not to operate the trains on Shabbat.

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