The mourning over Israel’s fallen soldiers on Monday night and Tuesday turn into festivities in the evening for the country’s jubilant celebration of its 75th birthday. Held with barbecues, flags from houses and cars and thousands in the streets.
Regardless of which glasses you wear, the Jewish state is a miracle in the international jungle. Despite the many large and small wars, some existential and the internal conflicts.
The large demonstrations against the government’s plans to tame the Supreme Court are in their 16th week. But the Israelis always have in the back of their minds that this small piece of land is the only Jewish state in the world.
By all means, there is no shortage of new weapons and undisguised reminders that Israel must be wiped out, both from the north, south and not least from the east. A similar situation as to when Ben-Gurion, in 1948, asked his army chief, Yigal Yadin, what the chances were that the as yet unborn state would survive a possible united Arab attack. “Fifty percent,” Yadin replied. Nevertheless, Ben-Gurion declared the state’s creation.
Hezbollah has begun to stir in the Golan, fueled by its mentor Iran, which in turn warns that Tel Aviv, Haifa and more will be wiped out if “the little satan” makes the slightest misstep.
Israel’s great hope for a real breakthrough vis-à-vis the Arab-Muslim world through Saudi Arabia has been put on hold. The Saudis have become pragmatic (hopefully) in re-establishing diplomatic contact with their real archenemy – Iran, and the “Butcher of Damascus”, Bashar Assad.
Even the ayatollahs’ protégé Hamas seems to be in control again in Riyadh. The optimists believe and hope that the Saudis will demonstrate that one – Iran – does not exclude the other – Israel – in their new political policy. Also worrying for Israel are the new sensors Iran has sent to Jordan.
Without turning a blind eye (which is impossible here) to all the violence, suffering and danger, it is appropriate to take positives in the situation in today’s Israel, aspects that rarely or never seem to be of interest to the Norwegian media:
While Israel had 50,000 women and men as soldiers when it was founded, today the country can field an estimated 500,000, including their reserves, as well as a large number of experienced, former soldiers over conscription age. Unfortunately, it has to be said, Israel has the world’s 15th highest defence budget, while the country’s air force is considered the world’s sixth strongest.
The fact that Israel has become a gas exporter and has gone a long way to solving their water problem with large desalination plants, shows the state of affairs of the country.
The Jewish population has increased from approx. 600,000 in 1948 to around seven million today, the country’s total is fast approaching ten million. This is due to two elements: Israeli women give birth to an average of 2.9 children, as opposed to 1.6 in the OECD or the Western world. Added to this is the yearly Jewish immigration which varies.
The per capita product in Israel is the 12th highest in the world: 55,535 dollars (higher than Canada, Sweden, Germany and Japan).
On the downside, only 40 percent of Arab women and 51 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews are employed. There are still too many poor people in the country, even though the middle class is growing.
To conclude and answer a frequent question that friends and acquaintances from abroad bring up: Why on earth does Israel, like most other countries, not have a constitution?
According to a commentator in the Jerusalem Post, a plausible explanation is that Ben-Gurion felt it would be too upsetting and divisive to debate the composition of an Israeli constitution at a fateful time when the survival of the state was at stake. In addition, perhaps the ultra-religious would have insisted that the Torah was a good enough constitution.