In honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations

Israel, the tiny nation that accomplished what was practically impossible, is today a power house of creativity, scientific discoveries, great agricultural know-how that is offered to developing countries, a flourishing hi-tech industry constantly producing new applications, and a great heart that welcomes new immigrants and promotes their absorption. This tiny nation converted, against all odds, an abandoned and barren land into lush vegetation. Israel now leads the world in developing and exporting green technologies that could save the planet.

No other nation has faced an endless degree of demonisation from nations who could not tolerate its very existence. At great human cost almost with no weapons, Israel won a war initiated by five Arab armies one day after its declaration of independence, while trying to absorb survivors of the Holocaust who dreamed of starting a new life there.

Yet Israel never abandoned hope nor its yearning for peace.

Israel is a thriving democracy, unique in the Middle East, with a Supreme Court prepared, when it deems appropriate, to overrule the prime minister or the military establishment, a feisty parliament, the Knesset, that includes every imaginable viewpoint along the political spectrum, a robust civil society, and a vigorous press free to criticize the Government without fear of consequences.

 

This is part of the Israeli culture. They have a powerful military that is like no other: At the Israeli Air Force they emphasize that oftentimes the most critical part of a mission might be the mandatory debrief. In these sessions, the most senior officers may be subject to open and direct critique from the most junior servicemen. Performance and not military grade is the criterion that defines them. The best officers learn not just to listen to those under their command, but to incorporate their advice.

 

Israel’s cultural network is impressive: Theaters, concert halls and special opera performances at Masada, the fortress that was the last place of resistance against the Romans.  There are constantly festivals of all types, gigantic book fairs, numerous dance groups, more than 200 museums, a new Opera house.  All of this is just a fraction of the gamut of activities offered.

Israeli innovations range from Intel microprocessors to messaging systems that ensure the safety of nearly all the world’s financial transactions. Microsoft Intel, IBM, Apple, Cisco and HP all have research and development centers in Israel. WAZE and WhatsApp are Israeli creations.  With the support of the Government and universities that research, develop and commercialize the product, Israel has, in absolute terms, the largest number of start-up companies in the world, more than 1000, mostly in hi-tech.

 

Israel has attracted more foreign investment in high-tech businesses in the past decade than all of Europe. It has more companies quoted on the high-tech NASDAQ stock exchange in New York than any other country outside the United States. In innovation it outshines all its neighbors. Between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the US, Saudi Arabia registered 171, Israelis registered 7,652.

 

The maturity and the ability to make on the spot hard decisions that the Israelis get from their army experience they apply to daily life, constantly innovating.

 

Israelis are vibrant and love life, their physical survival is not the only concern; they constantly look forward to an even brighter future, brought about by innovation and the conviction that if it’s not there they can create it.

This nation is the first to send medical delegations that build field hospitals in record time when disaster strikes in remote parts of the world; they assist emerging nations with scientific know how.

Medical advances like the digitalization of medicine, allowing individualized disease management and reduction of chronic pain, put Israel at the vanguard of the developed nations of the world.

However, it’s their resilience, their tenacity, their social networks, and an insatiable desire to make the world a better place that give Israelis their uniqueness.

Israel. almost miraculously, has managed to survive and thrive because its greatest wealth is its human potential and its moral values of universal significance.

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May 23, 2018
Rona Coster