Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do You Still Love Israel When It’s 64?

The Beatles asked “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” In some ways, these questions are very pertinent to the state of Israel that has just turned 64. Compared to the United States of America who is 235yrs old, Israel is a very young state.  But the last 64 years have been quite eventful.

Israel Declaration of Independence
I have been asked at times who my favorite hero is. To me the answer is clear – David Ben-Gurion, the man who declared Israel’s independence in 1948. The line between history’s madmen and heroes is very thin. David Ben-Gurion managed to skillfully stay on the right side of that line. Last year I visited the Hall of Independence in Tel Aviv, where the actual declaration of independence was made. Listening to the original recording and hearing the background of those stormy days in 1948 is a moving experience. I highly recommend you add that visit to your bucket list.

Given the fast pace of events in this country, it seems that every year in Israel history is equal to 10yrs or more in the history of “normal” states. According to Wikipedia, Israel fought 13 wars to date - an average of a war every 4.9 years. A “minor distraction” one would think.

But winning wars isn’t the only accomplishment of this young country.

Israel absorbed and repatriated millions of Jewish immigrants. They arrived in multiple waves called “Aliyah”. Many of these immigrants were refugees that came with little but the clothes they were wearing. Israel absorbed them and gave them a new home and a new life.

Israel managed to build throughout its brief history an advanced, world-class economy, which is the 24th largest in the world. Israel is beaming with scientific activities and is ranked 4th in the world in scientific research. Its high-tech, medical and agriculture sectors are highly regarded for their technology innovations and business acumen.  

But sadly this is not the picture that millions of TV viewers, Radio listeners, or Printed and online Media readers get on a daily basis. It seems that Israel’s image has been reduced to a single dimension: an Israeli soldier pointing a gun at a Palestinian kid. The “David” has turned into a “Goliath”, and little else seems to pass the media filter. Yes there is an Arab-Israeli conflict. Yes, there is occasional violence and injustice perpetrated by both sides. But no, this is not the only dimension of life in Israel.

So what do I wish this young, 64 yrs old state? I wish it will remain a free, democratic and diversified country that it is today. I wish that existential threats to Israel existence will disappear over time. I wish that a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will be attained. I wish that Israel will continue to grow and thrive at the same pace over the next 64 years. I wish that people outside Israel will view it as a multidimensional, fascinating country that it is.

To paraphrase the Beetles question: “Will you still need it, will you still feed it, when it’s 64?” My answer (and I hope yours too) is ABSOLUTELY YES!

No comments:

Post a Comment