Cite: Kedar, Ben-Gurion’s Opposition to a Written Constitution

Kedar, Nir. “Ben-Gurion’s Opposition to a Written Constitution.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 12.1 (2013): 1-16.





The foundation of Israel gave new significance to the heated dispute over modern Jewish identity. Accordingly, the Israeli constitutional debate, waged during the first two years of independence, threatened to become a focus of that cultural discussion. The article discusses David Ben-Gurion’s fear that the ideological and cultural argument regarding the content of the constitution would turn into a futile cultural polemic that would divert Israeli society from the realization of Zionism. The first part of the article describes the struggle to enact a constitution in Israel, and reviews Ben-Gurion’s efforts to thwart this move. The second part demonstrates that his aversion to debate was not merely a manifestation of impatience but a sincere expression of his civic ideas. The third part analyses in detail his concern for the realization of Zionism and for the processes of society and state building as a central reason for his opposition to the constitution. The fourth and concluding part highlights Ben-Gurion’s opposition to turning the Israeli constitutional dispute into a vehicle for ideological and cultural arguments about the nature and character of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

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