Israel – Then And Now

Since its establishment as an independent nation in 1948, Israel has come a long way as far as standard of living is concerned. From being highly impoverished and lacking in funds, to emerging as one of the most economically stable countries in the world, Israel’s growth as a nation has been remarkable. This article will trace the conditions from which Israel rose, and the conditions in which its native citizens live in the present day.

Life in Israel during the 1940s and 1950s

Israel found ground as a separate country in 1948 and won the Arab-Israeli war which followed soon after. These times were the darkest in Israel’s young history, both socially and economically. The country did not have any foreign currency reserves to support its economy, as a result of which the living standards dropped significantly. As soon as the economy started recovering, the country saw the incoming of a large number of Jewish and Arab immigrants from Europe, as well as other Arabian and Muslim nations.

Naturally, Israel did not have the means to support the sudden increase in population and found itself in the midst of a dangerous financial crisis. To get by, the country imposed strict rules of austerity on its citizens, including taking control over their diet. Elements like furniture, clothes and food were rationed. Adults were issued a diet of 1600 calories per day, more calories being allowed to children, the elderly and pregnant women. This imposition helped the government ensure that despite the lack of funds, its citizens did not find themselves homeless. Though the living standards were far from luxurious, the population did not go hungry.

Things soon took a turn for the better, and Israel started receiving economic help from Western Germany and American Jews. With these funds, Israel invested in its infrastructure and agricultural practices. It intended to emerge as a largely self-sufficient country. Due to these strategic efforts, the standard of living started rising in Israel, and between 1950 and 1976, the conditions of living in Israel had become three times better than what they were only 20 years ago.

The Yom Kippur War in the 1970s came as another blow to Israel’s financial situation, and once again, the country found itself on the brink of an economic crisis. However, the government introduced an economic stabilization plan, which fixed the monetary conditions in the country. Along with this, Jewish immigration from Russia saw a lot of skilled and trained professionals enter Israel, who then contributed to fixing the economic conditions even further.

Surveys done in the 2000s showed that the living conditions in Israel had improved drastically. A person living in Israel will have access to the same amenities and resources as a person living in Europe would.

So, what is it like living in Israel today?

Life in Israel in the current times

Today, Israel is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The living conditions are comparable to any wealthy European country, with similar access to healthcare, education and housing. Most Israelis live in apartments, and hold wealth in the form of cash, stock, or bonds. According to research, most Israelis live in three, four, or even five-bedroom apartments, depending upon their financial situation. About 0.8% of the population live in extremely extravagant properties with more than eight rooms.

In terms of material wealth, Israel is not far behind (if at all) the modern world.

  • 99% of the Israeli households have refrigerators.
  • 89% of them have air conditioning in their homes
  • 87% have television sets in their homes, with 54% of them having more than one
  • About 81% of them have modern amenities such as solar water heaters.
  • 74% of the Israeli population has access to the internet and internet-based devices.
  • 97% of Israelis have mobile phones, with about 74% of them owning more than one phone.

The material benefits of Israelis show that the standard of modern living is up to the standard of any modern European household. This might be because of the country’s high literacy rate – Israel had the fourth-highest literacy rate in the world, with most adults securing jobs in prestigious sectors. The literacy rate for tertiary education amongst adults is about 46%, much higher than the global average of 33%.

Israel’s growth rate from rationing food to its citizens to emerging as one of wealthiest countries in the world is truly remarkable, and the result of effective government strategies and a focus on becoming self-sufficient by means of infrastructure and agriculture.

It only natural to assume, therefore, that Israelis have access to technological advancements, as well as the means to create modern tech-savvy homes. The inclusion of a modern amenity, such as smart blinds for Google Home would not seem to be too out of place in a country like this any more.

About the Author
Samantha Brown is Distinguished Professor of Jewish History at the University of Singapore, She teaches creative writing & writes creative content.
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