Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion linked Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, with Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day. Today in Israel a siren blares for a minute, as the nation literally comes to a standstill to honor those who have sacrificed for Israel to exist securely. Tonight is festivity, marking the dream fulfilled of a sovereign Jewish Homeland.
Despite the political and military challenges, the little nation has grown and thrived. Consider the following points in this birthday that begins tonight:
1) Israel is only 1/6 of 1% of the Middle East land mass.
2) Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship-and the highest among women and those over the age of 55-in the world
3) With more than 3,000 high tech companies and start-ups Israel has the highest percentage of high tech companies in the world [apart from the Silicone Valley].
4) Israel’s paper currency has braille notes on them so the blind can identify them.
5) The glue on Israeli stamps is Kosher!
6) Since 1966, 12 Israelis have been awarded the Nobel Prize in various fields including chemistry, economics, literature, and peace.
7) Israel has more museums per capita than any other country in the world.
8) 34 political parties participated in Israel’s most recent elections.
9) The flag of Israel was designed to resemble a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl).
10) Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel.
11) 75% of Israelis are Jewish, 17% are Muslim, 2% are Christian, and 2% are Druze. The remaining 4% belong to minor faiths such as Baha’i and Samaritan.
A secure peace has eluded Israel. Please calendar Sunday evening, September 17th for a public conversation with Dennis Ross, who has represented the United States in peace negotiations under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Together we will explore the “missing piece” and what is possible looking forward.
For now, Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach- Happy 69 Israel!