Whenever I pause to take notice of Israel’s geographic size and its population, I marvel at their outsized contributions to the world. It’s a Little Giant, a David stepping up to fight a Goliath of anti-Semitism and security challenges while managing to innovate in ways that reach across the world. Israel still astonishes me.
This time of year, when Israel looks forward to Rosh Hashanah 5779, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics looks back on the previous year. Israel boasts 160,000 more citizens than in 5778 and its total population is now 8.907 million. Jewish citizens make up 6.625 million or 74.4% of the population. Stacked up against the world population, Israel is a mere one thousandth in population. Despite this, The Little Giant is like its ancestor King David. He triumphed against all odds as the youngest and most unlikely in his tribe.
What are some of the cultural markers that enliven Israel’s Jewish citizens and their innovations?
Israel’s small population and geography-260 miles from north to south- promotes the benefit of close collaboration on many levels. Its mandatory military service is a literal “idea incubator” across a broad spectrum of disciplines from medical, to agricultural, to technology. I’ve often commented when speaking to Christian groups that I’m not surprised that God inspired the bible through ancient Jewish scribes. Their skill, entrepreneurial inventiveness, and dedication to detail are also cultural markers. And Jewish logistics made sure that ancient biblical texts survived so that the world would experience the blessings of the Jewish and Christian faiths.
For centuries the concept of “repairing the world”- tikkun olam – repeatedly motivates the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Tikkun Olam has no boundaries. That’s why Israelis are treating seriously wounded Syrians at Ziv Hospital. That’s why IsraAid set up the first field hospital in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. That’s why Israeli agricultural innovations in water and farming exist in many African nations. And that’s why years of tonnage and thousands of Israeli trucks go through the Erez crossing delivering humanitarian aid to Gazans trapped by Hamas.
Israel was not created in order to disappear- Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom. –John F. Kennedy
One of my favorite go-to web sites is www.Israel21c.org. When I finish reading it to catch up with the latest discoveries, I’m always smiling. It documents as best it can the thousands of Israeli innovations pumped out by The Little Giant. For Israel’s modern anniversary www.Israel21c.org created an excellent timeline highlighting Israel’s spectacular 70-year journey. I enjoyed looking over the list and while it was difficult to choose highlights, here are a few that attracted my interest.
In 1948 Israel’s population numbered around 800,000.They opened their arms to resettle more than 500,000 Jews,the forgotten refugees,who were kicked out of surrounding Arab nations. Although Israel was an impoverished land with a low standard of living, they welcomed expelled Jews from Arab lands and made do with very little. Israeli physicist Harry Zvi Tabor invented the first solar water heater in 1955. In 1958 Israel hosted the first international Bible contest. In 1973 Israel invented the first steel security door with a geometric door lock. Israeli librarians and computer analysts created the first automated library system called Aleph in 1976. In 1983 Kibbutz Sde Eliyah began cultivating bees for pollination now on farms across the world. The Jewish Agency led the way in 1986 to farm the desert between the Dead Sea and Eilat which now produces most of Israel’s exports of flowers, vegetables, and yes, fish produced in the desert! Even Israel’s cows are productive producing the highest milk yield per cow in the world!
The list is truly endless. The emergency bandage which stops bleeding in physical trauma was developed in 1990. Also in the 1990s with massive operations, Israel rescued thousands of Ethiopian Jews and brought them to their ancestral homeland. An Israeli company developed the first flash drive in 2000. Then in 2004, the ReWalk Exoskeleton and a few years later the popular WAZE navigation system. Statistics in recent years show that Israel has 662 high tech companies which raised around $2.3 billion. Their stem cell technology holds the potential to treat diseases like ALS. And it’s no surprise that Bloomberg News calls Israel the 10th most innovative in the world. Again, The Little Giant competes against nations far bigger.
Israel21c.org created “165 seconds of Israeli milestones since 1948.” Click to enjoy 165 seconds of admiration and gratitude!
L’ Shana Tovah Israel!