From a relatively poor country to one of the 25 richest in the world.
To many, Israel today is the Start Up nation, a wealthy, and a militarily powerful state. It did not become that overnight. Some radicals anti-Israel voices describe Israel erroneously as “white.” The facts however are different. There are over one hundred thousand immigrants from Ethiopia, African economic migrants in the thousands, and Mizrahi Jews from the Arab Middle East, who comprise about half the population. Israelis of all colors and creeds made the desert bloom, overcoming the hardships of wars, terror, and absorbing millions of Jewish refugees without any natural resources.
Known today for its unique entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, Israel started its independence in 1948 as a country bereft of natural and financial resources. A pervasive joke in the country went like this… “Moses made a mistake in direction. Instead of leading the Israelites from the Sinai to the Land of Milk and Honey northeast of the Sinai, he should have gone East across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. That way, we would have oil and wealth.”
Joking aside, the Jewish State in the early years had no monetary reserves, little economic infrastructure, and few public services. In the 1950’s the government instituted rations known as the “Tzena” (austerity) era. Families were allocated food stamps that allowed them to buy limited amounts of sugar, flour, and oil, as well as eggs a month. Meat was rationed as well, and red meat was rare and expensive to serve at the time. As a small child in the 1950’s and early teenager in the 1960’s, I remember the paucity of toys available for children. This reporter played with matchboxes which became imaginary Israeli tanks that liberated Auschwitz and saved the Jews. I grew up with families of Holocaust survivors including my own. Their ordeals shaped the minds of children, including this reporter.
Israel at that time had a quasi-socialist economy, lacking major private ownership of economic entities. Banks, the national airline – El Al, Israel’s shipping fleet – ZIM, were government owned and run. And, what the government did not own, the trade unions or Histadrut owned. This was a critical period in the country’s history, which coincided with a massive inflow of immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and the Maghreb (North Africa), who had to be housed, fed, clothed, and employed. Given the shortage of capital, the burden of dealing with these problems fell upon the public sector.
It should be noteworthy that in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, a full 1% of the Jewish population was killed, and the country’s infrastructure was in disarray. The U.S. and Britain imposed an embargo on the sale of arms during the war and afterward, while Israel’s enemies, Egypt, Jordan, (which was commanded by a British officer named Glubb Pasha) Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria were already established states, and could count on their existing large arsenals. The decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s were anything but peaceful. Fedayeen (terrorists) from Gaza crossed the Green Line into Israel with the aim to kill Israelis and destroy farmland and industrial facilities. Attacked were buses that killed many women and children. It eventually led to the 1956 Sinai Campaign, in which Israel defeated the Egyptian forces in the Sinai and reached the Suez Canal. The Six Day War, about a decade later, saw Israel performing a most stunning feat by defeating three major Arab armies in six days.
Following the war, the country’s narrow borders were now widened to provide more security for the small nation, erasing the previous narrow waistline of only 9 miles between the border and the Mediterranean Sea, where its main population centers and international airport were located. The euphoria of the Six Day War subsided as Israel faced 1969, the War of Attrition, in which this reporter’s cousin was killed. In that war, Israeli pilots tangled with their Soviet counterparts and shutdown a few dozen Soviet Mig’s in dogfights.
In the 1970’s, PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) terror dominated the decade, especially before the Yom Kippur War of 1973. A war in which Israel was attacked on its holiest day of the year, and fought back into victory, but at a very high cost in lives and materiel. At the end of the decade, in 1979, the miracle of peace with Egypt occurred. That same year also ushered the arrival of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state-sponsored terrorist regime.
The 1980’s saw two major wars in the region, the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), which claimed the lives of over a million soldiers and civilians. By comparison, the Second Lebanon War of 1982, was somewhat insignificant on the scale of death and destruction. Still, Israel removed the PLO menace from Lebanon. In 1981, Israel eliminated Iraq’s dictator’s (Saddam Hussein) nuclear ambitions by destroying the Osirak nuclear reactor in an operation codenamed “Operation Opera.”
In the economic sphere, the Israeli government Stabilization Plan of July 1985, reduced the government involvement in the economy, as well as public spending (from about 60% of the GDP to 43%). Debt was reduced from 163% to 78%. Additionally, defense expenditures were cut down from 20% of the GDP to 10%. U.S. loans to Israel for defense acquisitions were turned into grants. By the middle of 1986, inflation was brought down from three digits to double-digits of around 20%.
Beginning in 1990, the arrival of over a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union, dramatically increased domestic demand. This led to accelerated economic growth and a sharp increase in investments. The 1990’s witnessed the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, signed on the White House lawn in September 1993. A year later, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel. The Oslo Accords notwithstanding, Yasser Arafat, the PLO chairman, incited Palestinian terror, which including homicide bombing, souring Israelis on the possibility of having a peace partner.
The 21st Century began with Arafat’s initiated intifada which lasted until 2004. Peace overtures and significant concessions by Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert in 2000 and 2008 did not lead to a breakthrough. The Palestinians rejected both opportunities. The Israeli economy, on the other hand, experienced a fantastic boom. Tyler Cowen, in a Bloomberg Opinion piece (June 6, 2019) wrote: “In the last half century or so, Israel went from being a relatively poor country to one of the 25 richest in the world, as measured by per capita income. Israel has done this largely by pursuing trade, integration into the global economy, liberalization of the economy, and heavy investments in the tech sector and in startups, often with government support.” In fact, Israel’s per capita income in 2018 stood at $41,581.119, its Gross Domestic Product at $392 billion, and its growth rate was an astonishing 4.4% in 2018. Israel has come a long way from exporting oranges and phosphates, to becoming a leading high-tech exporter, including water technology, medical devices, and sophisticated arms.
To get a perspective on how dramatically Israel has changed, on Capitol Hill, in a panel addressing Members of Congress and aides, this reporter pointed out that until recent decades a trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would have taken two- and one-half hours. Today, with non-rush-hour traffic, that trip would only take about 30-35 minutes. Israel’s infrastructure has undergone tremendous expansion, with four lane highways across the country, and a comfortable rail service. Israel has not only become rich, it is a comfortable country to live in and tour.
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.