After being quite critical about my newly adopted little country (see the last post about how badly Israelis drive), I feel time has come to bring out some positive facts about Israel.
The Israeli state is a young, somehow naive and exuberant little fellow. Incredible progress has been made in the scientific and cultural field during the first 60 years of its existence. Shall we start by citing names like directors Amos Gitai and Eran Riklis, acclaimed writers Amos Oz, Abraham Yehoshua and David Grossmann, the orchestra director Noam Zur, the world-class dance company Batsheva?
Nobel prizes have flooded the little country in its first 60 years: three for peace (Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin,), three for chemistry (a woman, Ada E. Yonath, was awarded this year), two for economy and one for litterature (Schmuel Yosef Agnon in 1996).
No day goes by without an announcement being made in the field of scientific research. Over 80 percent of all publishable research is conducted within Israel’s universities. In the last twenty years Israel has succeeded in cloning the p53 gene, a tumor suppressor protein; it has successfully helped in fighting Alzheimer disease through electronic brain stimulation; it has patented a landmark medicine to control the symptoms of Multiple Schleroys (Copaxone). More recently discoveries include sophisticated products for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Just think about the Given’s “camera in a pill”, a tiny color camera hidden inside a pill that patients can swallow, allowing for an unobtrusive, accurate diagnostic system for gastrointestinal ailments. Another medical device invented in Israel has helped patients all over the world restoring the use of paralyzed hands. Child Hood is another Israeli patented technology, intended for monitoring children with respiratory problems.
What about hi-tech technology? Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies outside of the Silicon Valley. You name it, it was almost certainly made in Israel. AOL instant messenger was invented by four young Israelis. The best seller gadget of all times, the disk-on-key, is an Israeli invention. Miniaturized processor of the Pentium M series are also an Israeli achievement. A non-extensive list would include the first wide-spectrum anti-virus program, called InVircible; Checkpoint, the first Windows integrated firewall, and still the top seller.
Israel, surrounded by desertic land and scarce water sources, was forced to develop top-notch technologies in the agricultural and energy saving industries. Think about the innovative water management systems, including the now widely used drip irrigation technology,a computerized water management software that ensures that not one drop is wasted. (this system is a best seller in many Arab speaking countries). Israel is also a leader in solar energy exploitation, as well as the world’s largest per capita user of solar water heaters -a fact easily proved by the visible amounts of white tanks towering on every rooftop.
If you consider the size of Israel, comparable to that of El Salvador or Belgium, these records are certainly impressive. Less so if you think about how Israel came to be, as a collective recipient for the Jewish diaspora. That is, people who have worldwide accumulated a long list of persecutions and injustices, but also invaluable, cosmopolitan, multi-cultural influences, which coupled with the prominent place historically attribute by Jewish people to study and education, partially explains the success story of Israel.
Maybe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should think twice before fulfilling his dream of wiping Israel off the map?!
For more facts and records about Israeli achievemnets, have a look at this slightly pompous yet interesting little video: