It has been 73 years since the state of Israel made its historic declaration of independence to establish a homeland for the Jewish people. As we look forward to another Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) celebration, which begins the evening of April 14, we can’t help but marvel at the remarkable success of the Zionist dream, and how central the Jewish state has become to our lives.
Yes, we disagree with certain decisions and actions taken by the Israeli government from time to time; and yes, we feel frustrated by the ongoing political deadlock that has paralyzed the nation for the past two years; but none of that detracts from our abiding pride in the remarkable achievements of our Israeli family.
Israel is an extraordinary place. And it’s not just the beauty of the land or its deep historic significance that makes it special. There is so much more.
In the past year, Israel has emerged as a world leader in the international response to the dreaded coronavirus, with a national vaccination program that is the envy of much of the world. More than 50 percent of Israel’s population has been vaccinated. That kind of achievement doesn’t just happen. It is the product of a very astute political plan to partner with one of the world’s leading vaccine producers in the rollout of an inoculation program, coupled with an almost seamless integration with the country’s universal health care infrastructure, community-based health services and nationwide digital data networks.
Also in the last year, we have seen a dramatic shift in the international community’s attitude toward the Jewish state, stemming in large part from the multi-level alliances of the historic Abraham Accords. Israel is now developing meaningful diplomatic and financial interactions and cooperation with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, with more possibilities on the horizon. While the accords don’t have the same impact on Israel’s security as earlier peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, they do signal a new era of acceptance and the beginning of an embrace of the Jewish state in the fraught world of the Middle East.
And, of course, the relentless creativity of the Start Up Nation continues. In the past three months, more than 30 Israeli companies have pursued initial public offerings — raising close to a billion dollars. And, according to the Jerusalem Post, “Unicorn sightings are becoming a frequent occurrence in Israel’s hi-tech sector. More than a dozen privately held Israeli start-ups have crossed the $1 billion mark in 2021 alone.” The numbers are dazzling, and there is no end in sight.
All of this, of course, comes at a time when the country struggles to unify politically and searches for answers to the vexing Palestinian issues — while Iran, Syria and their terror-proxies are constant reminders of the ongoing threats to Israel’s security.
As we pray for a comprehensive resolution of the current political, social and ongoing security concerns, we wish the state of Israel a happy birthday. May the coming year be another one of sustained growth and success, as we continue to declare proudly: Am Yisrael Chai!