Israel: April 26, 2004


Since this is independence day in Israel, its a good time to note several things that make Israel unique. First, it is the only true democracy in the Middle East. Second, the country is defined more by the many nationalities that make up the population of 6.8 million, than the Jewish religion eighty percent of them share (most Israelis consider themselves non-religious). Third, Israel possesses the most dynamic economy in the Middle East, producing far more technical innovation  per capita than any nation in the world, and economic growth that the Palestinian terrorism campaign has slowed, but not stopped.

Israel is much like the United States, in that it is a nation of immigrants. Some 18 percent of the population were born in Russia, or had a parent that was. The only larger group are Arabs, who comprise 19 percent of the population. Overall, 28 percent of the Israeli population was born somewhere else. Other major nationalities represented are; Moroccan (seven percent), Iraq and Romania (four percent each), Polish (three percent).

Most of what makes Israel unique, offends other Middle Eastern nations. In the region, the concepts of democracy, reforms needed for rapid economic growth and absorbing immigrants is considered alien and generally avoided. Few of the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 have been allowed to become citizens of other Arab nations, while Israel absorbed an equal number of Jews driven out of Arab nations at the same time. Arab advocates of democracy and the reforms (education and rule of law) needed for economic growth are a minority, and smaller in number than those who practice, or back, terrorism against Israel and the West. Until the Arab world becomes more like Israel, the economic and military disparities between Israel and the rest of the Middle East will remain. 

Despite furious efforts, Palestinians were unable to carry out terrorist attacks before the 56th anniversary of Israeli independence, and in response to the deaths of two leaders of the Hamas organization in the last month. This was the result of an intense, but largely unseen, war going on between the terrorist organizations and Israeli security forces. In the last week, nearly two dozen members of terrorist organizations were killed as Israeli raids meant to interrupt plans for terrorist attacks. The government admitted that they had information on over fifty planned attacks by Israels Memorial Day (today) or Independence Day (tomorrow). Since the terrorism campaign began in late 2000, 2,500 Palestinians and nearly 900 Israelis have died. Israeli counter-terrorism methods developed rapidly and, overall, 96 percent of planned terrorist suicide attacks were stopped, with 86 percent stopped even before the suicide bomber put on their bomb vest and headed out for the target. But in the last year, the percentage of suicide attacks stopped has moved towards 99 percent. Israels informer network within the Palestinian community, and the attacks on terrorist leaders and technicians (135 so far) has crippled the terrorist organizations.


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