Israel celebrated its independence day on 26 April and Harald Stanghelle use the occasion to publish a full-page comment in Aftenposten on the same day. His many negative conclusions, partly on failing promises, after the state’s 75 years in relatively “barren terrain”, shall not be commented on here. But it is striking and strange that he cannot find a single positive thing to say about the country and its inhabitants.
In today’s Israel there is no vital peace movement. The entire left lies with a broken back. The Israelis have gone in an increasingly right-wing Zionist and nationalist direction. In today’s government there are extremist parties that only a few years ago would not have been allowed in the door.
But the mass demonstrations of recent months against the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform show a different version of the Israel of the 2020s. Here we see the country’s innovative tech industry and the vibrant LGBTQ+ culture. We also see reservists, veterans and “most people” of so many kinds.
To bring some balance to his image of Israel, it should be mentioned that Israel in these years has:
Developed a labour and trade union system that has been close to our own (ref. the early collaboration between LO and Histadrut).
Received and integrated millions of refugees from Europe, the Arab countries and Ethiopia.
The kibbutz movement and modern era-making methods transformed the desert into fertile fields and plantations. Does anyone remember the Jaffa oranges for Christmas?
Developed modern irrigation methods used all over the world, look for the drip irrigation hoses sticking out of the soil here and there. This has been and still is exported to developing countries in large quantities.
Invented seawater desalination techniques, providing drinking water to millions.
Built up a modern and all-encompassing school and healthcare system, which treats its own and – due to its expertise – residents of surrounding countries.
Is a world leader in emergency medicine and relief measures in the event of disasters.
Built universities that are very highly ranked, with leading research in hi-tech, medicine and technology.
Exports gas and oil to Jordan, Egypt and soon to Europe.
A rich artistic and cultural life.
Is one of the world’s most LGBTQ-tolerant societies.