Many hands went into the final drafting of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, but what emerged from it was a model of liberal morality. Reading its message in the 21st century, separated by 72 years from the conflicts, the heated debates, the knife-edge decision to go for independence, let alone the nervous environment in which it was all happening, releases a rush of gratitude to those founding fathers. Set against it is the reluctant admission that we frequently fail to live up to their goals.It is not easy for any society to maintain consistent adherence to the demands of its constitution. Liberty, equality and justice are enshrined not only in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, but they are surely the values we come together to endorse on Independence Day. Those who drafted the Declaration were clearly concerned to establish that the new State of Israel would be one in which these values would be unassailable and, in particular, that “full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed or sex,” would be upheld. Can we examine Israeli society in 2020 and tell ourselves that this is what we have?The fact is, there are deep divisions in our society. There was a time, maybe twenty years ago, when we could say that hostilities between Israelis of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi origin were a thing of the past, that suspicion and openly expressed antagonism between secular and religious Israelis were a rarity. The situation today is very different, and what is worse, the gaps between the groups seem, at some levels, to be getting worse, despite the intermingling, intermarriage and general socializing among them. A recent stint as a volunteer outside a polling station was a clear demonstration to me of aggressively expressed prejudice of one group against another. The political parties make charges against one another based on what is perceived to be the basis of their support. The grassroots base of the Likud Party is said to be made up largely of Mizrahim; the left-wing parties are accused of being secular and Ashkenazi as well as “elite,” an especially venomously expressed pejorative. Sadly, venomous is an increasingly appropriate description of exchanges between political opponents, of exchanges on social media and even in face-to-face encounters.Jerusalem and Tel Aviv give us an interesting example of a country divided. The capital city is more and more the province of religious Jews, including some of the most extreme sects. Parts of the city would appear like another world to a secular Jew from Tel Aviv. Likewise, the liberal atmosphere of the Tel Aviv metropolis is alien to many a “Yerushalmi.” Life is lived at a different pace in cities less than an hour’s drive apart, not a particularly unique situation until it comes to the hostile feelings one set of citizens expresses about the other. Here again, the difference in the political affiliations of the two cities shout that they seem to belong to separate galaxies.When it comes to the situation of Israel’s Arab citizens, “the full social and political equality of all its citizens” clause of the declaration must ring very hollow to them. There are now 15 Arab members of the Knesset following the success of the Joint List in the March 2 election. To quote a phrase from an article by David M Halbfinger in Haaretz [15/03/20], ”Jewish [MK’s] cannot agree on whether to consider them partners or the enemy.” Seventy-two years since the new state of Israel promised “to the Arab inhabitants of the state of Israel, full and equal citizenship and representation on all its bodies and institutions,” there is still outright opposition or – at best – hesitation to include them in the government.The complex case of the east Jerusalem Palestinians, most of whom are non-citizens, yet make up 40% of Jerusalem’s population, is another matter requiring courageous decisions not likely to be taken any time soon. There have been any number of attempts to resolve, or at least clarify how to include the population of east Jerusalem within the terms of the declaration, but to no avail.In a phrase, on this Independence Day, Israel begins to resemble a tribal society. It is a good time to consider what we should do about it.The writer is an author, former journalist and former head of the British Desk at the Jerusalem Foundation.