30 September 2022
Let’s be clear. The State of Israel is not perfect. But the current crisis in Iran just demonstrates how unique Israel is. A number of points can be made.
First, according to Freeedom House, Israel is one of the most free and democratic countries in the world. That is truly remarkable, in an era when democracy in the world is declining. Israel is the only free country in the Middle East, that is highly unstable, torn apart by civil wars and dominated by autocrats and dictators. The current uprising against the repressive, dictatorial Islamist regime that has ruled Iran since 1979 is proof how despotic states can be. But political democracy also does not guarantee perfect freedom and liberty. In fact, all modern, Western democratic States struggle to manage the complex challenge of building a strong society based on the rule of law, while simultaneously confronting major local and global crises. The United States is a good example: despite its founding principles of freedom, limited government, and individual responsibility, the US is today more politically divided, government is more intrusive, and personal liberties are more threatened, than they have ever been.
Second, the very fact that Israel was established in 1948, and has survived since then, is nothing short of a modern miracle. Born in the midst of conflict, and notwithstanding the near-annihilation of European Jewry, the Jewish people had to fight for decades to be able to re-establish their homeland in Palestine, as they were entitled to do under the Mandate for Palestine (1922). Since 1948, Israel has fought an ongoing battle against many enemies determined to wipe it from the map. No other nation on earth has faced such continual existential threats.
Third, since 1948 the State of Israel has demonstrated that it is a beacon of light and hope in a troubled region. Israel today is the number one start-up nation, and world leader in fields like technology, agriculture, the arts, and medical ethics. While there are tensions, Arabs in Israel enjoy equal rights, and many successful Arabs fulfil leading roles in Israeli society. Gradually more and more people are realizing that the restoration of the Jewish people to the land over the last century, leading to the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel, is bringing great blessing and prosperity to the Middle East – and beyond.
Fourth, while Israel is not free of discrimination, it has an outstanding record on human rights. Take women’s rights. There is no country in the region where women are as respected, and have as much freedom, as in Israel.
Fifth, while the long-standing conflict between the Jewish State of Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has yet to be solved, the lack of a “solution” is not Israel’s fault. Rather, it is due to the refusal of the Palestinian political leadership to accept the existence of the Jewish State – within any borders.
It has become fashionable in many circles to label Israel as an “apartheid” state. That is far too simplistic.
Perhaps the best answer to this is to ask the question: if you are a woman, would you rather live in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon ... - or Israel?