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Israel – a Light Unto the Nations on its 70th Birthday

The prophet Isaiah said in the 8th century BCE:

“I the Lord have called to you in righteousness, and will take hold of your hand and keep you and present you as the people of the covenant, a light unto the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6)

He also said: “And nations shall come to your light and kings unto the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:3).

Declaration of State of Israel 1948

April 19, 2018 – Israel officially marks the 70th anniversary of its statehood. Many, and not only Jews, have described the incredible progress and development of Israel during that period as a miracle. And, indeed, when looked at objectively, it is difficult to see it in any other way.

Born in strife — a “war of extinction” — undertaken by Israel’s Arab neighbors with the end of the British mandate and the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948 — Israel’s small population then of just over 800,000 people managed not only to defend itself, but also to even conquer territory beyond the truncated partition lines allocated to it by the United Nations at the time.

Further, this poor, mostly desert state absorbed in its early years hundreds of thousands of immigrants streaming to its shores from among the Holocaust survivors of Europe, the Jews driven out of Arab lands in the Middle East and North Africa, and others, all of whom sought a new life in this tiny sliver of land called the reborn State of Israel. Jews the world over, as well as many Bible-believing non-Jews, saw this return of God’s chosen people to the land of its ancestors as a historic, earth-shattering phenomenon – in short, nothing less than a miracle.

In its infant years, Israel struggled just to feed, clothe and heal its burgeoning population, but with determined efforts the country made rapid progress in many fields. Today –a strong nation of over 8 million people — it stands at the forefront of accomplishments in so many fields – agriculture, medicine, water, high-tech, defense and more.

Experts now come streaming from all over the world – including the developed world – to learn from Israel how to turn desert

land into productive areas for growing food for a hungry populace, using recycled, purified waste water. Computer-controlled drip irrigation is another Israeli invention for making maximum economic use of scarce water resources; it is now used broadly in many places in the world. Israel is also a “water power” in other ways. Having realized that it would be unable to supply the water needs of a growing nation by depending on natural water sources, Israel developed state-of the-art, giant water desalination plants along its Mediterranean coast, a solution suitable for many water-starved countries who come to Israel to see and learn from the phenomenon.  An Israeli company has even developed a prototype for directly converting moisture in the air into pure drinking water, another godsend to parched nations.

Out of necessity, Israel has become a major producer of innovative defensive weapons against short, medium and long-range missiles, in cooperation with the American defense establishment. Israeli doctors, nurses and medics are on the scene – usually the first to arrive among donor nations – to set up field hospitals at the scene of natural disasters anywhere in the world. Israel has also become a world leader in utilizing its sunny climate for the development of clean, solar-generated electric power. Another area in which Israel stands at the forefront is in cyber security, defending its highly developed computer networks against sabotage from hostile forces. Here, too, experts from abroad come to learn from Israel.

 

All of this incredible technical leadership stems from the tremendous innovative drive of so many, creative, ambitious and mostly young Israeli entrepreneurs, the backbone of what has come to be called the “start-up nation.” Indeed, as hard as it may be to believe, Israel today ranks only behind the US and China in company listings on the New York Nasdaq stock exchange.

The biggest names in multinational high-tech companies – Intel, Google, Samsung, General Electric, Apple, Amazon, Cisco and more — all have centers in Israel for production and/or research and development. Then there are those new high-tech developments that originated in Israel and are now being incorporated into devices world-wide, among them the Waze highway navigation system and the Mobileye computerized driving safety system being installed today by major car manufacturers. In development of self-navigating cars Israeli researchers are also having animportant input, as they already have had in the development of many modern communications systems.

 

What is the secret of such Israeli innovation? As one leading pioneer industrialist recently put it:  In some countries, the ideal is to conform; in Israel the ideal is someone who can come up with something new that others haven’t done yet.

If only Isaiah were around today, he would be astounded at what “a light unto the nations” the nation of Israel has become.

Happy 70th Independence Day!