Even if there are moments when we think we've never had it this bad, even if the political situation is a source of doom and gloom for many, we should remind ourselves once a year that the reality we live in far exceeds all our dreams and expectations.
The State of Israel is a miracle. Yes, there are problems. Not only do we have Jewish thieves, but there's Jewish corruption and Jewish racism too. There are still those who wish to rise up and destroy us. But to truly understand where we are today, we should step into a time machine for a moment or two.
The gloom settled just a decade ago, in 2005, following years of a murderous intifada. Not a month passed without a deadly terror attack. The dispute over the disengagement from Gaza appeared to be paving the way to a civil war. Eden Natan-Zada carried out an attack on Israeli citizens in Shfaram; and two weeks later, a second Jewish terrorist, Asher Vizgan, murdered four Palestinians in Shiloh. The potential for the emergence of a Jewish Jihad sparked grave concern.
And what about two decades ago – in 1995? Endless terror attacks too, and also a frightening rift between the camps, and Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. We thought our democracy was collapsing. Three decades ago, in 1985, inflation reached hundreds of percent per year. It threatened to bring the Israeli economy crashing down. No one knew what the day would bring.
Four decades ago, in 1975, in response to the terror attack at the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv and the refrigerator bomb in Jerusalem, the UN decided that Zionism was racism.
In 1965, the National Religious Party threatened to unshackle itself from the authority of the judicial system; and in 1955, when resources were scarce, the state handed out food stamps and tens of thousands lived in refugee camps that were called "transit camps." Many feared that Israel wouldn't even celebrate its tenth birthday.
One can go on and on. In every decade, we seem to think that the Zionist dream is in danger, that we are falling apart and crumbling. Yet the opposite has happened. Aside from the terrible years of the Nazis' rise to power and the Holocaust, the Zionist dream hasn't only materialized, but every decade in fact has brought an improvement. At this point in time, the Arab threat to Israel is almost non-existent. Who would have believed two decades ago that this would be the case? The global Jihad is indeed intensifying, but it is aimed primarily against Muslims.
Israel leads the world in one particular field – self-flagellation. In general, the criticism is legitimate. Israel is a fast-and-furious democracy. Can anyone compare freedom of expression in the 1950s and '60s to freedom of expression today? Often, however, and too often even, it isn't criticism, but self-deception instead. The annual violence index shows that contrary to our self-brainwashing, Israeli society is becoming less violent. Even the Gini index points to a shrinking of the gaps in the past decade, while the GDP per capita continues to rise.
Contrary to the headlines, emigration from Israel is on the decline; and we haven't yet mentioned the steady drop in the infant mortality rate and the steady rise in life expectancy. Yes, Israel is in the top 10 in the world. Arms exports are usually spoken of in an effort to condemn Israel, but that, too, is misleading – a significant portion of the exports are of a defensive nature. Sweden, which knows no wars, whose existence isn't under threat from anyone, isn't far behind Israel in this field.
Thus, as we approach Independence Day, we should cease our self-flagellation for a moment. We should remember that Israel is a superpower in the fields of hi-tech, water desalination and medical and scientific innovations. We should remember that Israel invests more in R&D than any other country in the world, in relative terms. We should remember that even the UN views Israel as a role model, a world leader, in the field of water recycling. We should remember that most Jews came to Israel from Eastern Europe or Muslim countries where democracy never existed, yet we've established a glorious democracy here. We should remember that despite the excessive fuss about "ethnic tensions, "most members of the golden generation have "mixed" grandchildren.
In two days, we'll return to the self-flagellation. Today, we will remember in sorrow those who gave their lives for us; and tomorrow, we will remember with pride that the daughters and sons of Israel are upholding this divine commandment with a display of tremendous achievements – and, primarily, that in another 10 years, despite appearances, there's a chance that things here will be even better. Happy Independence Day.