Israel is celebrating its seventy first birthday! That's no small feat for the Jewish state.
During those seventy-one years Israel has transformed the world. Not just the Jewish world — the whole, entire world. The world is a better place because Israel exists.
The years have not passed smoothly. The first few years after Israel was established it was not at all certain that this small country, surrounded by enemies, at war with its neighbors, would survive. But miracles do happen. Miracle #1 was the creation of the state and Miracle #2 was its initial survival, its victory against all odds.
Every year, on the eve of Israel's anniversary, the country's population numbers are released. The numbers are humbling given the Jewish state's short history and the realization that, just a few years ago, Jews suffered a Holocaust.
Not only did Israel survive, it thrived.
The creation of the State of Israel was one of the greatest, most drastic, most dramatic distinctions in history. Within a period of 15 years — from 1941 to 1956 — Jews went from horror to rebirth to builders.
Today, Israel is home to over nine million citizens. Today, the total population of Israel is 9,021,000. That's the official number given by the annual report released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The report divides the population into different demographics. Of the total population, 6,697,000 are Jews (74.2%), 1,890,000 are Arabs (20.9%) and 434,000 belong to other religions (4.8%).
The creation of Israel and its continued strength and success illustrate important points in history. The destiny of the Jewish people is not victimhood but creativity and productive contributions. The sciences, the humanities and the arts have all been the beneficiaries of Israel's munificence. Despite the horrors of the Holocaust, Israel emerged as the fulfillment of the age old dream of building the "promised land," the place often called the "holy land."
Being connected to the land of Israel is transformative. That connection is called Zionism. It is Zionism that moved Jews from thinking and living and surviving as individuals to thinking and living and thriving as Jews as a community — as a state. There is a stark contrast in Jewish life between pre and post 1948, the year Israel was established.
For those who see God's hand in the re-establishment of a Jewish state in its ancestral homeland, the land of Abraham and his son Isaac, of David and his son Solomon, the State of Israel means a great deal more than simply a government that collects taxes and collects garbage. For those around the world who see God's hand in all that exists, the Modern State of Israel is proof that God is active in the world.
This is true for Jews and for non-Jews, true for lovers of Israel and lovers of democracy.
The devoutly secular and those who campaign for freedom and democracy have gained from Israel creation and its continued existence. Israelis are leaders in almost every field. Think technology, hacking, medicine, biology bio-tech, economics, art, poetry, film, theater, food, wine, fashion, academia, and you will find Israelis on the cutting edge. Israel, just a little larger than Papua New Guinea and just a little smaller than Switzerland and Austria, has accomplished so much and is on track to accomplish so much more and that is Miracle #3.
And Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.
Never take the miracle of Israel for granted. The miracle continues today and every day, year in and year out. Here's to the next seventy-one.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.