Seventy-one years. Seventy-one years of miracles, vigilance, and rebirth. Seventy-one years of welcoming Jews from dozens of countries to build a modern Jewish state. Seventy-one years of struggle, success, wars, weddings, victories, failures, joy, anxiety, tears, arguments, peace treaties and millions of babies born in a new country called Israel. Over 23,000 war dead remembered every day by families; thousands more injured by enemies on the battle field, and in terrorist attacks.
At 71, Israel’s survival, growth and gifts to the world – from medicine and high tech to arts and religious scholarship – have been astonishing, considering that it is a country of just 9 million. About half of world Jewry resides in the country – which has absorbed millions of Jews, and will likely welcome hundreds of thousands in the coming decades as Jews flee the growing anti- Semitism in the former Soviet Union, France, England and Germany.
Amid the ingathering of the exiles, there have been plenty of growing pains. And between the threats by Islamic fundamentalist terror groups in Gaza and the West Bank, and from neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Iran, the world expects Israel to be some form of utopia – a place where mistakes never happen; where perfection is omnipresent; where all military, social, economic, political, and religious issues can be sorted out effortlessly.
The world needs to recognize that Israel is not a beacon of perfection. Like other countries, it has its share of corrupt leaders. Once a socialist nation, modest apartments in Tel Aviv regularly fetch $1 million or more – creating an enclave for the wealthy elite. And nepotism is still the rule of the day if one wants a job in the public sector.
Despite these problems, Israel was named the 13th-happiest country in the world, according to the 2018 UN annual World Happiness Report. Somehow, Israelis have gained a proper perspective as they deal with life, and daily criticism from major Western and Arab countries. They know that at the end of the day, they will be solely responsible for keeping their families and neighbors safe. They face real threats that most Americans and Europeans could not imagine. But, in between these moments of angst and war, they have found a way to build a society and a nation that has given so much to the world.
Let us celebrate Israel’s existence, and contributions to mankind. And to those who support – or criticize – the country, Israel is just a 12-hour flight from Logan. A firsthand look at a modern miracle is highly recommended.