This year supporters should celebrate what Israel has given to the world. With Passover fresh in my mind, I found myself singing “Dayenu” on Israel’s 55th Independence Day. We Jews are fortunate to have a nation of our own that has survived several wars of aggression and escaped the latest Middle-East war with nary a scud attack. For that alone, we could say, “Dayenu!” – “It would have been enough.”
Israelis have defended more than their own country – they have saved countless lives around the world through their bravery: Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu was killed when he led a successful rescue mission on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976, freeing over 100 passengers from an Air France flight held hostage by terrorists. In 1981, Colonel Ilan Ramon, a victim of the recent Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy, participated in the bombing raid that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear facility and saved America and the Middle East from atomic terror in 1991 and 2003. Dayenu!
But Israel’s accomplishments are greater than mere survival and military ingenuity. Israel is a diverse, creative, and free society that has flourished in the face of terror and has given the world the technology that we use everyday. This year, Israel’s supporters should celebrate Israel’s many achievements – which we take for granted – in the arena of technology, medicine, culture, and sports.
While you’re IM’ing your buddies, pass on the news that four young Israeli programmers developed the technology behind AOL’s Instant Messenger.
Did you know that Intel’s new high-speed Centrino chip – which doubles battery life on laptops – was developed entirely in Israel? While watching a DVD for hours on your Centrino laptop, thank Israel for the extra battery life.
In the field of medicine, Israel is saving your heart and making innovations in early cancer detection. Did you know that researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with congestive heart failure? Israeli scientists also developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer. Israel’s Given Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill to help doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.
How does Israel maintain this hit parade of medical achievements? Israel has more engineers and scientists per capita than any other country. It also produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation. But Israeli heroes of medicine and science don’t just stay in the lab; they rush into the fray and save people, not only in Israel, but around the world: When the U.S. Embassy in Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day – and saved three victims from the rubble. A year later they were on the ground in Turkey rescuing earthquake victims.
And who said the Golden Age of Jewish athletes is over? Israeli tennis player Anna Smashnova is the 15th ranked female player in the world. Memo to all you Israel-loving tennis fans: In addition to following Venus and Serena this tennis season, add Smashnova to your roster of favorites.
Think Jews can’t jump? Israel’s Maccabbi basketball team won the European championships in 2001, and Europe’s SuproLeague MVP was Israeli center Nate Huffman.
At the next meeting of the Galactic Senate in the Star Wars universe, someone should inform Chancellor Palpatine that Queen Padme Amidala (actress Natalie Portman) was actually born in Jerusalem. I hope she can still serve in the Senate. Fans of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers should note that the show was developed by Haim Saban, an Israeli whose family fled Egypt.
Let the hip-hop generation learn that Israel has earned a spot on the map. This month, the rap group Wu-Tang Clan will visit Israel on a solidarity music tour. Wu-Tang member Cappadonna said, “No one thinks that a Hebrew-speaking country has anything do with hip-hop, but hip-hop is alive in Israel.”
I assure connoisseurs of “high culture” that Israel has covered its bases. During the 1991 Gulf War, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra played a concert wearing gas masks as scud missiles fired by Saddam fell on Tel Aviv. Israel has more museums per capita than any other country, and Israel has the world’s second highest per capita output of new books.
On its 55th birthday, celebrate Israel for all her diverse accomplishments and tell your friends and family about the unheralded contributions Israel has made to your life.
(Reprinted with permission from Israel Insider)