Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Success Story

The story of Israel as an independent state on the world scene is a story of success beyond the wildest imagining and one in which Jews everywhere (and Jews are everywhere) can take justifiable pride. Consider what Israel, the 100th smallest country in the world with less than 1000th of the world's population, has accomplished in just 62 years of its current existence as a modern state, backed by 3,300 years of historic connection to its land. Charles Murray, the distinguished social scientist/historian in his book, "Human Accomplishment", focused on the fact that three-tenths of one percent of the world's population that is Jewish has contributed 25 percent of all notable human intellectual accomplishment in modern times. In the first half of the 20th century, he notes, while Jews throughout Europe and the rest of the world faced severe discrimination and legal constraints on their activities, and even despite the Holocaust in which the Germans attempted to exterminate the Jews completely, Jews won 14 percent of the Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine and literature. In the second half of that century, when Jews generally were more free to compete, that figure rose to 29 percent. And, so far in the 21st century, it is up to 32 percent.

In Israel itself, technology is the name of the game. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other country including the US---109 per 10,000 people. It also has the highest rate of patents filed per capita. It has the highest number of new start-up companies in proportion to its population and in total numbers is second only to the US---3,500, mostly in high-tech. Except for the US and Canada, Israel has the most NASDAQ listed companies. There is no question that Israel has the highest living standards in the entire Middle East and North African region of the world with a per capita income of more than $18,000 per year, even higher than England. Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all its immediate Arab neighbors combined. Some 25 percent of its workforce holds university degrees, ranking third in the industrialized world, while some 12 percent hold advanced degrees. In proportion to its population, Israel is the largest immigration-absorbing nation in the world, where newcomers arrive seeking religious freedom, economic opportunity and democracy. The fastest growing segment of Israel's population, surprisingly, is not Jewish or Muslim. It is Christians, fleeing Arab persecution in all the surrounding countries to the only country in the Middle East where they can find a safe haven.

Some of the technical advances are having a significant impact on the world. In medicine, for example, Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer, which will facilitate earlier detection and treatment . An Israeli company developed a computerized system for administering medications, thus eliminating human error from medical treatment, which accounts for so many deaths in US hospitals. Israel developed the first ingestible video camera small enough to fit inside a pill, which can view the small intestine from the inside and help doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders. In communications, Motorola's Israeli branch developed the cell phone technology that the whole world uses now. Most of the NT and XP operating systems for personal computers were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were both designed and developed in Israel, as was voice mail technology. We could go on and on, but the point is that this remarkable record of accomplishment has taken place while this small country has been under siege, literally, in a continuous state of war with most of the Arab world, forced to spend an inordinate share of its national treasure on its security needs.

1 comment:

  1. Harry, how good you are to share your erudition with the world in these wonderful posts.