Israel began as a doubt in the world’s eye. Surrounded by enemies, it had to fight six wars in six decades. With a territory the size of the Kruger National Park and few resources, other than the ingenuity of its people, it transformed itself from a developing country into a high-tech economy, taking its place alongside other industrial nations of the OECD. Over the span of less than seven decades, it grew 10-fold in population and 50-fold in gross domestic product.
As Israel celebrates 67 years, to quote Charles Dickens, Israelis find themselves living in both “the best of times and the worst of times.” On the one hand, the future has never seemed so bright. Its economy is prospering, with consistent growth of at least 3 per cent, its culture is thriving, and its democracy thriving, as evidenced by the 85 per cent of citizens living in Israel who cast their ballot in last month’s election. On the other, hand its people live in a region that is full of instability and violence.
Israel boasts one of the world’s most innovative economies with the highest ratio of startups per capita, the second-largest venture-capital industry and more than half of its exports deriving from the high-tech sector. In 2014, an amazed world witnessed approximately 75 acquisitions or public offerings by large multinationals worth about $15 billion.
More than 350 multinationals — including Intel, Apple, Facebook and Google — have established R&D centres. Just last week BlackBerry purchased the Israeli file-sharing security company, WatchDox, and announced plans to establish a new security-focused R&D centre in Israel.
Israel’s seven universities and five medical schools generate a total of $360 million in royalties and licenced 50 new technologies.
In addition, a place that the Bible calls the “Land of Milk and Honey” has just discovered significant natural-gas reserves off its coast. One thousand billion cubic metres of gas brings the promise of energy security for many years to come and an opportunity for economic cooperation and employment with surrounding Arab neighbours, including last month’s $1.2 billion agreement to send gas to Egypt and similar deals with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
It is this engine of security and wealth for the region that the Israel bashers wish to destroy.