As Israel celebrates 60 years of nationhood this Thursday, and
looks ahead to the next 60 years, the world should appreciate what
the Jewish state has accomplished.
Built on the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel's birth was followed
by a massive attack from all sides by the surrounding Arab nations.
Threatening another genocide, they managed to kill 1 percent of
Israel's population, but Israel survived - and even thrived.
In the years since, the Jewish nation has turned deserts into
gardens, swamps into orchards, sand dunes into cities. Lacking the
natural resources of its neighbors, Israel made the best of what it
had. It became a high-tech giant, specializing in life-saving
medical technology. Indeed, it ranks second only to the United
States in NASDAQ listings.
Faced with barren land, Israel has also developed agricultural
technologies that maximize food production, and exported these life-
saving and life-enhancing technologies to the rest of the world.
This young nation has also produced more art, literature, music,
academic articles, and books than most countries triple its size. As
Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in an otherwise critical article in The
"Israel is, by almost any measure, an astonishing success. It has
a large, sophisticated, and growing economy ... the finest
universities and medical centers in the Middle East; and a main
city, Tel Aviv, that is a center of art, fashion, cuisine, and high
culture spread along a beautiful Mediterranean beach. Israel has
shown itself, with notable exceptions, to be adept at self-defense,
and capable (albeit imperfectly) of protecting civil liberties
during wartime.... Zionism may actually be the most successful
national liberation movement of the 20th century."
Israel's Arab citizens, numbering 1.2 million, live longer,
healthier lives, and have lower infant mortality, better educational
opportunities, and more basic liberties than the Arab population of
Even in its efforts to defend itself from aggression - it was
attacked by Arab states in 1948, 1967, and 1973 - Israel has
exemplified restraint and high ethical standards.
Although Tel Aviv was bombed by the Egyptian Air Force in 1948,
Jerusalem was rocketed by Jordan in 1967, and several Israeli cities
were threatened by Syria in 1967, Israel never bombed Cairo, Amman,
or Damascus. (It did attack terrorist bases in the suburbs of Beirut
In its efforts to protect against terrorists, it has also
complied with a high standard of human rights, even while its
enemies have targeted Israeli civilians while deliberately hiding
behind human shields in densely populated civilian areas.
When I speak at university campuses, I issue the following
challenge: Name a country, faced with comparable threats to its own
citizens, that has ever tried harder to comply with the rule of law
or human rights than Israel.
No one has ever named such a country, nor could they. Certainly
not the United States, which repeatedly bombed enemy cities
(Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Tokyo, Cologne). …