Like vigorous baby boomers who wonder whether their current good health or inevitable decline is the more defining reality, Israelis celebrated their country’s 59th anniversary uncertain about the state of their state.
From the outside, Iranians’ and Palestinians’ genocidal threats – reinforced by a relentless assault on
Yet, this supposedly dysfunctional society is remarkably functional. Palestinian terrorism has been reduced, with the improved security restoring
The magic numbers four billion, 3,186,739, 257,000, 9.2 and 2.7 quantify
• Billionaire Warren Buffett spent $4 billion buying Iscar, part of foreigners’ $23.7 billion investment in
• In a country of seven million people, 3,186,739 Israelis voted in the 2006 election, the
• The percentage of the Israeli economy devoted to the non-profit sector – 9.2 per cent, ranking the county fourth worldwide – illustrates Israelis’ exceptional commitment to charity, volunteering, and tikkun olam, fixing the world.
• Finally, the Israeli Jewish birthrate of 2.7 children per woman represents the highest rate among developed countries. More than 100,000 new babies last year joined a future-oriented, family-friendly, community-building, values-rich society.
Still, the country faces serious problems, many of which are
Whatever explanation people offer for the corruption contagion,
Modern Israelis, like so many of us, are the children of modern consumerism, with television-compressed attention spans and iPod-induced self-involvement that’s balanced out by computer-fed creativity and connectivity. Israelis have to develop a communal ethos that cultivates modern individualism and ingenuity without abandoning a sense of national mission and idealism.
For a people battered recently and historically, the ability to be normal is quite exceptional. Living well truly is the best revenge, a repudiation of Nazi exterminationism as well as Palestinian terrorism. Israelis do and should delight in sharing their modern dilemmas with fellow westerners. At the same time, this celebration of normalcy and the powerful realities of daily living should not eclipse the special dimensions of Israeli life or the country’s unique challenges, even though they appear to Israelis living through them as quite normal, or at least familiar.
The Zionist revolution built on Jews’ exceptional history and sense of togetherness while promoting a vision of national normalcy. Modern