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|Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:32 am The Israeli Pride Parade - By Ben Dror Yemini, Maariv
|The Israeli Pride Parade
Israel is one of the leading countries in agriculture, high-tech, medicine and science. Maybe the world needs to be reminded of this.
By Ben Dror Yemini
17 May 2008
Anyone who reads newspapers could be forgiven for thinking that Israel is a dangerous place ruled by violence and corruption. The celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary provides an opportunity to take stock of our achievements. The facts speak for themselves.
The Contribution to Humanity Index
There are quite a few measures by which countries are rated: national product, life expectancy, education, etc. There is no index measuring a specific country's contribution to humanity. That kind of index is long overdue. Whoever gets confused by facts is in for some surprises. Here is a partial list:
Agriculture: Israel leads the world in developing strains resistant to natural hazards and special crops to withstand harsh weather conditions. Israel invented the drip irrigation system, which saves tremendous amounts of water. Milk yield in Israel is the highest in the world, even double the European average. In Israel, a palm tree produces an average of 182 kg of fruit, compared to 17 kg in the rest of the Middle East.
Since the establishment of the state, the area of agricultural land has increased threefold, but output has increased by a factor of 16. Ashkelon boasts the world's largest desalination facility - unless Hamas's rockets manage to hit it, so that they can complain about a water crisis in the Gaza Strip.
High-tech: A significant part of the leading high-tech developments in the world are Israeli inventions. The first disk-on-key was an Israeli innovation. The ICQ instant messaging program, which has become an integral part of every computer the world over, was developed in Israel. The best security software in the world comes from Israel.
Most of the Windows XP operating system that is used in almost every computer worldwide was developed in Israel. VOIP technology (Voice over Internet Protocol, the basis for programs like Skype), making international telephone calls simple, inexpensive and readily available, was developed in Israel. It is no coincidence that every other day we hear about yet another Israeli company being acquired by a conglomerate.
Israel is in second place in the world, after Japan and ahead of the United States, in the number of patents per capita. If you check the effectiveness of the inventions, we actually take the lead. Out of the one hundred most important start-ups selected in Europe last year, ten were Israeli.
Science: Israel is in third place in the world in scientific publications per capita. And, when considering the importance of the publications as opposed to relative quantity, Israel is in 14th place in the world. This includes realms that benefit all of humanity - research in medicine, physics, mathematics and others.
Israel reached fifth place in the number of recipients of special grants for young researchers from the ERC (European Research Council). But, relative to its size, it actually takes first place in the number of winning researchers.
Medicine: Teva is the largest company in the world for generic medicines. There are probably few homes worldwide without some "Made in Israel" medication. Teva and other companies also develop new drugs. Teva developed a drug to treat Parkinson's disease. Israel participated in developing a treatment to reduce relapses of multiple sclerosis.
Just two years ago, Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, purchased an Israel company's product that can prevent blindness. Israel leads in the field integrating nanorobotics and medicine.
And this is only a partial list.
Not everything is wonderful in Israel. Many people have been left behind. The gaps in Israeli society are among the largest in democratic countries. Too few have control over too much of the capital. Therefore, developing and expanding human potential has to be the national mission of the next decade. The per capita product in resource-scarce Israel is 40% greater than in rich Saudi Arabia. The reason is simple: human resources produce much more than oil resources. And, despite its accomplishments, Israel is still far from fully utilizing its potential.
The Lie Industry
Here we arrive at the biggest paradox of all: even though Israel could be number one in the world in contributing to humanity, were there such an index, it also occupies first place in the hostility index. Israel is perceived, according to many polls (the last of which was a worldwide BBC survey) as the country most dangerous to world peace.
Leading newspapers throughout the world - The New York Times; The Washington Post; Le Monde; and The Guardian - when mentioning Israel's 60th anniversary, chose to completely disregard Israel's contribution to human development and to emphasize instead "ethnic cleansing and the Palestinian Nakba." Here as well, they do not let the facts confuse them (see And the World is Lying - the Plight of the Refugees).
The paradox between Israel's contribution to the world and its image indicates only one thing: the lie industry is winning out over the facts. In fact, the Israel-Arab conflict has wrought the lowest number of victims in the annals of all conflicts. That does not keep the lie industry from spreading the libel that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians - even though there is no genocide and never was (see And the World is Silent).
Criticizing Israel is permissible. Not all its actions are praiseworthy. Yet every intellectual and liberal who is still influenced by facts and not by fashion has to admit that the anti-Zionist vogue will go down in history as one of humankind's lowest trends, matched only by phenomena such as racism and antisemitism. So, it is time to introduce the real Israel - an Israel that can proudly observe its 60th year, due mainly to its enormous contribution to humanity.
Israel does not need a military parade. It needs a parade of its achievements. We could call it a Pride Parade.
Original Hebrew text