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Monday, October 14, 2019

Gaza. BDS. New elections. Yet another U.N. resolution condemning Israel.

The list of negative connections to Israel seems to go on and on, typically with many of world anti-Semitism’s usual suspects (Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc.) grabbing the media’s attention.

As we begin 2019, we want to point out that while much of the focus was placed on the fires at the Gaza border and the tunnels between Lebanon and Israel, there were amazing less-known factoids coming out of the 70-year-old Jewish state. We know that you know the bad stuff, but here is a sampling of the simply amazing.

Last year (may we be the first to refer to 2018 as “last year”), Israel welcomed over 4 million tourists. That is an increase of some 13 percent over 2017, according to the Tourism Ministry. Again, with everything going on in Israel, according to the media, the world has only gotten more interested in Israel and people are planning their vacations accordingly. Israel’s tourism revenue exceeded $6.3 billion in 2018.

Israel’s population exceeded 9 million in 2018, with 74 percent of the population listed as Jewish.

Its investors are continuing to increase not just from the West but also now from China, whose investors in Israel participated in six of the 17 largest funding deals in Israel.

There are so many other examples of success stories coming from Israel this past year.

Professor David Naor of Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School is developing a single drug that can treat Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

When 17 students and teachers were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Israel sent members of its Trauma Coalition to train 600 teachers, social workers, law enforcers, clergy and first responders in resiliency strategies. Sadly, the team returned to Pittsburgh just a couple of months after the tragic Tree of Life Congregation mass shooting.

Israel even gained positive recognition from the U.N. in 2018 when it received the U.N. Population Award for the work that Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) provides in caring for children from developing countries, including Gaza and the Palestinian Authority territories.

Israel is developing a vaccine against the degenerative brain disease Alzheimer’s.

When 12 Thai teenage soccer players and their coach were trapped in a cave for 17 days, it was an Israeli company’s technology that enabled divers to communicate within the complicated cave system.

We could go on and on. The point is, yes, Israel faces challenges with terrorism, political strife, movements and nations that would like to see its demise. Israel is a working society. Its citizens awaken each day like we do, go to work, drop their children off in school, watch them play after-school sports and worry about their futures.

Also, many of us are planning aliyah some day or are preparing to send a child to a gap year at seminary or yeshiva. For us, Israel is a place of hope, dreams and success with emotional highs and sometimes lows.

Overall, while our enemies try to hold Israel back, it moves forward. This year, with Hashem’s help, the state will be 71 years forward. And that with so much more achieved will make it another year to celebrate.

Just like 2018.