Editorials and Opinions

Supporting Israel for its global importance

By Gabriel Schneider
Published: December 2009

Let’s say I wanted to point out Israel’s flaws. It wouldn’t be too hard, considering that every country has its share of imperfections.

In making the case against Israel, I would probably start off by pointing out Israel’s policies concerning the Palestinian people. Maybe I’d talk about Israel’s supposed “war crimes which were detailed in the recent Goldstone report. Or I could discuss to the ubiquitous violence and ongoing war in the region.

My point is, like every country, Israel has its imperfections.

With this in mind, I won’t preach that everyone should accept Israel for its policies. That would also be asking a little too much. I understand that anti-war and humanitarian groups disagree with some of Israel’s most fundamental policies, and that from an outsider’s perspective, it could come across as a ruthless nation’€enclosing the Palestinian people and cutting off their water supply, while Israelis enjoy abundant water for their private gardens.

At times, it’s hard for some to see Israel in a good light.

That’s why I’d like to make the case for Israel to you’€why should you care for and support Israel? Why is it of importance to the world?

First, I’d like to convey just how much Israelis value life. Though sometimes the fact is obscured by the reports of violence and warfare, Israel puts an extremely high value on the lives of its citizens. For example, Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier presently being held captive in Gaza. Though Israel wouldn’t by any means suffer a strategic loss without him, Israel has dedicated itself to getting Sergeant Shalit back.

On December 1, Israel announced that it was ready to release 980 Palestinian prisoners’€450 chosen by Hamas and 530 by Isarel’€to secure the freedom of Sergeant Shalit, who was captured in June 2006. This kind of compassion for its people merits at least recognition, if not respect.

This mentality is well known throughout the Middle East and thus has been taken advantage of by many of Israel’s neighbors. Just about every time an Israeli prisoner has been taken hostage, dead or alive, Israel has negotiated to get that soldier back.

Furthermore, though often overlooked, Israel is the only democratic ally of the United States in the Middle East. Israel has been a steadfast partner, militarily and politically, to America ever since it was established as an independent nation in 1948. Also, every President since Truman (who recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, 11 minutes after it declared itself a nation) has been an active supporter and friend to Israel. Why has America kept such a close alliance to Israel? Why does Israel deserve our partnership?

Maybe because Israel, approximately the size of Rhode Island, is one of the world’s largest GDP per capita producers, yet is only responsible for .3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Maybe it’s because Israel is the only country in the world that had had more trees in 2000 than it did in 1900. Or maybe because Israel pays back nearly 70 percent of the 2 billion dollars it receives annually in foreign aid from the United States, in commerce and trade.

Maybe we should support Israel because it has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world (after the United States) and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside North America. Maybe because Israel has the highest literacy rate in Southwest Asia, according to the United Nations. Or maybe because Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to population in the world, as well as is on the forefront of some of the world’s greatest technological and environmental feats.

Israel has more engineers per capita than any other country. Israeli developed firewalls protect your computers and bank accounts, and Israeli-designed computer chips power your cell phones. In fact, cell phone technology was developed by MOTOROLA in Israel.

On the environmental front, Israel has embraced solar energy and its engineers are on the cutting edge of solar energy technology. Over 90 percent of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, which is the highest per capita the world.

Israel is also the global leader in water conservation and geo-thermal energy; its development of cutting-edge technology in communications, software, and life sciences have evoked comparisons with the Silicon Valley.

Lastly, relative to population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. These immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, economic opportunity, and quality of life.

For those who don’t respect Israel for its policies or politics, I urge you to understand the vital role that Israel plays in the world. The United States has stood steadfastly by Israel, and I commend this position.

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