Israel - 67 Years of Independence

Israel is not only by far the militarily strongest country in the Middle East but she is also a rock of political, economic and social stability. In the rapidly changing Middle Eastern balance of power, Russian – Israeli partnership could become a potential factor to the benefit both countries.

Recently, on April 23, 2015, the State of Israel celebrated its 67th Independence Day. The attitude of the Israeli people to this event incorporates not merely the fact of the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel and its realization, but also the unbelievable history of the Jewish people, including long years of diaspora, persecutions, Nazi genocide; the permanent dream for reconstruction of their national home in the Land of Israel; the generation of founders, who fought and worked hard to create the infrastructure for the future state and achieve its independence; the endless war for independence and survival against bitter and strong enemies. Today, Israelis, remembering this long and difficult path, are looking proudly and with deep satisfaction on the achievements of their state.

The declaration of independence itself, 67 years ago, came about in a unique and unusual manner. It was preceded and based upon a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, a relatively new organization at the time, calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The decision was taken against the strong objection and opposition of almost all of the Middle Eastern and Muslim countries. The UN resolution called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. The Jewish community accepted the resolution in its entirety and called upon the Palestinians to implement it together in peace. The Palestinians, however, together with all the Arab states rejected it. This is the source of the Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In that context, we have to remember the positive position toward the creation of Israel, taken by the Soviet Union, which strongly supported the UN General Assembly resolution, assisted in its realization and officially recognized the State of Israel immediately.

As a result of Arab intransigence, Israel, from the first day of its existence, had to fight for its survival, being attacked by five neighboring Arab states, which refused to accept the UN decision. Contrary to most expectations, it withstood the onslaught and won the war for independence. However, over the years, Israel was forced to fight in many other military conflicts both with neighboring Arab states as well as with different terrorist organizations, mainly of Palestinian origin. During all those years, aside from the military threats, Israel had to withstand many challenges, in other fields. It started its way as a small and poor country, of 600 thousand population, lacking infrastructure, forced to accept and absorb millions of immigrants, from all over the world, including over a million Jews from Arab countries, to develop a modern economy and to organize an effective governmental system as well as a modern and just society. In all those areas, Israel can be proud of its tremendous achievements. It overcame the military threats, founded a flourishing economy and created a modern democratic political and social system.

Of course, many challenges still have to be solved. First of all, the Palestinian question, which still exists as an unsolved burden on the Israeli and international agenda. The security issue continues to challenge the state as well, manifest in continuous terroristic activities, efforts by hostile states to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and from the threat created by regional instability in the Middle East. Nevertheless, on its 67th anniversary, Israeli citizens are looking toward the future with optimism and hope, which are well- founded. A major cause for this optimism is the fact that after 30 years of independence and four bitter wars, Israel succeeded in breaching the walls of Arab hostility and has concluded peace treaties with two of its four neighbors – Egypt and Jordan. The peace treaty with Egypt has lasted now for close to 40 years and with Jordan for over 20 years. Israel maintains full diplomatic relations with both countries as well as close security coordination.

  • Some economic data:
  • Population: from 600 thousand in 1948 to 8.2 million in 2014;
  • GDP: from $30 billion in 1984 to $307 billion in 2014, a rise of 920%;
  • GDP per capita: from $7000 in 1984 to $36000 in 2014, a rise of 414%;
  • Military expenditure (in percent of GDP): down from 20% in 1984 to 5% in 2014, a drop of 75%;
  • Total exports: from $1 billion in 1984 to $98 billion in 2014, a rise of 3,700%;
  • Inflation per year: down from 450% in 1984 to 1% in 2014, minus 99%;
  • Self-supply of energy: from 0% in 1984 to 38% in 2014, full self-sufficiency expected in 4 years, beginning of energy exports expected in 7 years;
  • UN Human Development Index: world 19 place:
  • According to IMD Competitiveness Yearbook: First world place in innovations; Second place in enterprise;
  • "World happiness index": 11 place of 156 states;
  • First world place in R&D investments (4.2% of GDP);
  • First World place of employees in R&D sector (140 employees per every 10,000. US is in second place with 85 employees per 10,000);
  • Israeli economy growth in 2014 was 3.1%, compared to 1.7% in OECD states.

Looking at the Russian role in the Israeli history and current development: Russia had a considerable impact on Israel’s history, partly thorny, with many changes of the status and relationship. In fact, many of immigrants from Soviet Union, Russian Federation and CIS countries took part in the establishment and development of the state of Israel. They have become a significant component of Israeli society and installed Russian culture and philosophical values in the very foundation of Israeli existence, which contributes very much to the bonds between the two nations. In the beginning, the Soviet Union assisted in the creation of the State of Israel and supported it in its war of independence. But during the cold war the two nations become estranged for many years. This was a period of hostility, bordering even on military confrontation, accompanied by the persecution of Soviet Jewry.

The ties between the two countries were restored around the collapse of the Soviet Union and are continuing to develop in a friendly and constructive way, creating a stable political relationship and economic ties.

In light of the present situation in the Middle East, both countries find themselves facing a common challenge. There is a great deal of mutual understanding, even if some of the latest Russian actions have caused some concern in Israel. Israel is not only by far the militarily strongest country in the Middle East but she is also a rock of political, economic and social stability. In the rapidly changing Middle Eastern balance of power, Russian – Israeli partnership could become a potential factor to the benefit both countries. 

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.