Happy Birthday Israel

Over the next 24 hours I and others celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel. David Zwartz writes in the Herald:

It is worth celebrating that the scattered and dispossessed Jewish people, suffering oppression and having emerged from history’s worst genocide, accepted the newly formed United Nations Partition Plan and built a vibrant democracy in part of their ancestral homeland.

To survive as a race and a religion for over 2,000 years without a homeland is an amazing feat. And the Holocaust remains a unique evil.

Had the Arab states accepted the UN’s plan in 1947, we could all be celebrating the 60th birthday of both Israel and Palestine. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

More than sad. It was one of the biggest mistakes in recent history.

Security for Israelis is better now than in the dark days of 1948-9, 1967 and 1973, but still not good enough. There are peace treaties with and Jordan, two of the five Arab countries which invaded the fledgling state in 1948. Most of the rest of the Arab world, and many other Muslim countries, still refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and Iran’s President has threatened to wipe her off the map.

What is really bad is that Israel has given up territory in Gaza, but instead of that leading to peace in that area, it becomes a venue from which to launch more rocket attacks. There are many people who in principle support Israel returning to 1967 boundaries in exchange for peace, but the fear is they will retreat to 1967 boundaries and then just have even more effective attacks on their civilians.

In spite of security and other major problems (such as trade boycotts) Israel – a country only a 12th the size of New Zealand and with meagre natural resources – has become a world leader in IT, medicine, and technology, agriculture and technology.

Must almost be the only place in the Middle East with no oil!

The Jewish National Fund has planted 240 million trees over the last 100 years to make the desert bloom, and reduce greenhouse gases. Israel recycles 70 per cent of its wastewater for re-use. In January this year, the Government announced its support of a plan to install the world’s first electric car network in Israel by 2011, and the country has world-leading solar energy projects.

Will this lead to even a small pause by those who normally condemn Israel?

Of course there are actions from Israel which have been bad. They do sometimes over-react to attacks. But they have created the only truly democratic country in the region.

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