Israel at 50: Achievements and Challenges

Article excerpt

As Israel's fiftieth anniversary of independence approaches, the mood there is less than euphoric. The Likud government is losing the support of its coalition partners, the Arab-Israeli peace process is stagnant, and Israeli civilians live in fear of an Iraqi missile attack. Moreover, deep social divisions threaten to undermine the national sense of purpose that has held the country together for the past half-century. The generalized sense of malaise is reflected in the problems that have plagued the committee set up by the government to plan the "jubilee" celebrations; four successive chairmen have resigned, and its budget has been sharply cut.

Despite the gloomy atmosphere, Israelis will have much to celebrate on Independence Day. They live in a prosperous, democratic state that has survived countless challenges to its existence. After facing hostile neighbors for decades, the state has made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and Israelis can now reasonably hope for a region-wide settlement. Israel has also provided a homeland and a haven from persecution for millions of Jews from around the world.

This issue of the Harvard International Review examines both the impressive triumphs that Israel has achieved over the past 50 years and the daunting challenges the country will face in the years to come. …