For a sense of the high drama behind Israel's founding, a guided tour of Tel Aviv's Independence Hall reminds visitors today what a miracle it was that the state ever came into being. Amid stark exhibits, photos and a documentary film tracing 2,000 years of Jewish exile, the Zionist movement and the struggle for Palestine is a detailed recreation of events leading up to May 14, 1948, when the state of Israel was declared in this stucco building. It underlines the historical fact that, despite a UN resolution six months earlier calling for a Jewish state in a partitioned Palestine, the creation of Israel was far from certain when Britain withdrew. Undeclared war raged sporadically in the months preceding Britain's exit. Such was the dread of all-out war when the Union flag was lowered that the United States was spearheading a truce plan involving possible UN trusteeship. So the situation was unusually tense on May 12 when Jewish leaders gathered in Tel Aviv were split on whether to declare statehood two days later, when the British left, or to wait until a future date - as the US was urging under the truce proposal. However, by a vote of six to four, the armistice proposal was rejected. Jewish statehood would be declared. With the die cast, less than 48 hours remained to prepare a ceremony. High drama was laced with chaotic comedy, particularly as the event was meant to be a secret. Today, visitors can hear a recording of the monotone reading of the charter by Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion. When the new Jewish state 'to be called the state of Israel' was proclaimed, the audience applauded.