Considerations for declassifying records stored in the Israel State Archive (ISA) lack transparency. Reality shows that often, arguments concerning national security, foreign relations, or privacy protection conceal a different truth. Often, too often, documents are redacted in full or in part in order to protect Israel’s image.
Until 1995, government meeting minutes from 1948 and 1949 remained out of public reach. They were unsealed in early 1995, with many portions remaining redacted until recently.
“I am aware that Jarjora [MK Amin-Salim Jarjora] had already visited Jaffa Arabs in order to collect material for parliamentary questions. It turns out that we have created a special ghetto with barbed wire fencing and appointed a special person to handle them. Why has the Tel Aviv Municipality failed to provide the same services to Arabs as well?” These two lines were redacted by the ISA when the minutes of the 1949 government meeting were declassified and remained redacted until recently.
Directives for declassification of government meeting minutes
Ahead of the declassification of government meeting minutes dating from 1948 and 1949, Chief State Archivist Evyatar Friesel contacted Government Secretary Shmuel Hollander to apprise him of the situation. The archivist said technical preparations for declassification were expected to conclude shortly and that 98% of the material was expected to be opened for public access, adding a somewhat wry comment: “Allow me to predict the future: when the public examines these minutes, it will be pleased to read 98% of the material offered to it, but ask about the 2% that remain closed. Our answer will be that this was done in keeping with directives.” The directives themselves remain classified.