For decades now, the United States has served as a de facto role model for Israel. There is a good reason for this, in that that the largest concentration of Jews outside of Israel, lives in the United States (Israel’s current Prime Minister was schooled in Philadelphia, for those who have wondered about the absence of a typical Israeli accent when he speaks English as well as his command of the language). Similarly, there are those who estimate that as many as half a million Israelis are currently living in this country. Add to that the number of Christians who are pro-Israel, and it is easy to understand the mutual admiration between the two countries.
With Israel, celebrating its 72nd birthday this Wednesday, perhaps it would be of interest to look at The United States in the year 1848 when it also celebrated 72 years as an independent country. The similarities and contrasts are, in my opinion, worthy of consideration. John Taylor served as President; George M. Dallas served as Vice-President. Each held that position for one term. Taylor was not re-elected President; Dallas never rose to become President. Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu on the other hand, is by all accounts, the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history, despite the fact that Israel’s political system makes our political system look like child’s play (read into that what you will) and that despite all odds, he has mastered the art of pulling a rabbit out of his kippah, time and time again.
Population wise, the United States had grown ten-fold in its first 72 years of existence. In 1776, there were approximately 2 ½ million inhabitants between the Atlantic and the Pacific (excluding territory that was soon to become the Dominion of Canada). By 1848, there were 23 million inhabitants within those very same boundaries. Put differently, the nascent United Stated state could proudly boast close to a ten-fold increase in population during its first 72 years. Not that it is a contest, but Israel is able to lay claim to a 15-fold increase during that same period of time, having grown from 600,0000 to just under 9 million! Perhaps of even greater interest, is the California Gold Rush of 1848.by all accounts, it was the largest mass migration of people in this country, with 300,000 Americans hoping to either stake their claim or sell merchandise and provide services to those hoping to stake their claim. No such parallel exists in Israel, given the fact that in square miles, Israel is even smaller than New Jersey. Size aside, given the realities of the current crises, Israel, like the United States and most, if not all other countries, is presently in lock down mode, where migration simply does not take place.
Having mentioned the current crisis that has effectively paralyzed the world, it would be of great interest to compare breakthroughs in the field of medicine in the 72nd year of the existence of this country and breakthroughs in the field of medicine, as Israel celebrates 72 years of statehood. In 1848, history was made in the northeast of this country, with the opening of Boston Female Medical College (it merged with Boston University School of Medicine a quarter of a century later). It was the first medical school for women in this country. How it was received at the time is worthy of speculation. Also worthy of speculation, are reports released earlier this month, by Ofir Akunis, Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, that scientists at The Galilee Research Institute, better known by the acronym Migal, are on the cusp of developing the first vaccine against the coronavirus If all goes as planned, the vaccine could be ready within a few weeks and available in 90 days.
Up until now, come the 5th of Iyyar, Israel has had every right to celebrate the anniversary of its independence, proclaimed 72 years ago in Tel Aviv by David Ben Gurion. This year, in my opinion, Israel has the need to celebrate the anniversary of its independence, however, subdued that celebration may be because of the full lockdown order. Among its many accomplishments, Israel has every right to celebrate its political system, despite its foibles. Juntas and resignation of top leadership take place in other countries. When it comes to leadership, Israelis disparage; they do not depose. Israel has every right to celebrate its awe-inspiring growth. Had Israel behaved like other countries, it would have taken immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia and settled them in “no man’s land” in the Negev. Israel has every right to celebrate its breakthroughs in the fields of science and medicine. Its Scientists and Doctors are not only looked up by Israelis, but they are also looked up to by the world. Let us join with Israel as together we celebrate 72 years of naches. Todah Rabah!