This week, the modern state of Israel turned 69 years old. Writing at The Huffington Post about this relatively new nation - and its millennia-long biblical history - American Jewish Committee head David Harris says Israel's story "is the wondrous realization of a 3,500-year link among a land, a faith, a language, a people, and a vision":
In just 69 years, Israel has built a thriving democracy, unique in the region, including a Supreme Court prepared, when it deems appropriate, to overrule the prime minister or the military establishment, a feisty parliament that includes every imaginable viewpoint along the political and social spectrums, a robust civil society, and a vigorous press.
It has built an enviable economy increasingly based on mind-blowing innovation and cutting-edge technology, whose per capita GNP exceeds the combined total of its four contiguous sovereign neighbors — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
It has built universities and research centers that have contributed to advancing the world’s frontiers of knowledge in countless ways, and won a slew of Nobel Prizes in the process.
It has built one of the world’s most powerful militaries — always under civilian control, I might add — to ensure its survival in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood. It has shown the world how a tiny nation, no larger than New Jersey or Wales, can, by sheer ingenuity, will, courage, and commitment, defend itself against those who would destroy it through conventional armies or armies of suicide bombers. And it has done all this while striving to adhere to a strict code of military conduct that has few rivals in the democratic world, much less elsewhere — and in the face of an enemy prepared to send children to the front lines and seek cover in mosques, schools, and hospitals.
It has built a quality of life that ranks it among the world’s healthiest nations and with a particularly high life expectancy, indeed higher than that of the U.S.
It has built a thriving culture, whose musicians, writers, and artists are admired far beyond Israel’s borders. In doing so, it has lovingly taken an ancient language, Hebrew, the language of the prophets, and rendered it modern to accommodate the vocabulary of the contemporary world...