Israel at 69 in 2017 – the meaning of numbers
Founded in May 1948, Israel is celebrating its 69th Independence Day this week. It is a national holiday. And the slide shows abound to reveal how much there is to celebrate.
Let me entertain you with a few stats to illustrate what has changed over the decades.
- The population has grown ten fold from around 800,000 to 8.6 million, 75% of whom are Jewish
- Imports and exports were calculated at US252 million and US$29 million in 1949. The equivalent numbers in 2016 were US$65 billion and US$52 billion.
- GNP has leapt forward by a factor of 46.
- In 1961, there were about 0.5 million salaried workers. Today, there are about 3.5 million. And for the record, unemployment is at about 4.2%.
- 12 Israelis have won a Nobel Prize.
Independence Day is always preceded by a day of mourning, Memorial Day, for those who fell in battle or other attacks. And here the numbers make depressing reading. 23,544 have lost their lives in the services. A further 3,117 have been killed by terrorists.
And that is where we must leave the numbers. Because each victim has a story to tell. They are part of a family that has been brutally wounded. And these families together make up the nation.
In a sense, the numbers that describe the growth and improvement are a testament to those no longer with us. It is not just revenge. They represent what can be achieved when a nation focuses on peace.
And that is Israel’s message to its enemies in the region and beyond. The modern state in the Holy Land has not just shown it is here to stay. It shows others how great things can be attained by ordinary citizens whatever their background or religion.