How Independent Is Israel?

The Jewish state has grown dramatically over the last seven decades. But it enjoyed greater freedom of action in its earliest years, when it wasn’t so closely tied to the United States.

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting September 21, 2011 at the United Nations in New York City. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images.

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting September 21, 2011 at the United Nations in New York City. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images.

Observation
May 18 2016
About the author

Martin Kramer teaches Middle Eastern history and served as founding president at Shalem College in Jerusalem, and is the Koret distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


On Israel’s Independence Day, it is customary for the Central Bureau of Statistics to summarize some of the basic facts about the transformation of Israeli demography and living standards since the state’s founding in 1948. This is always an encouraging read. Israel’s Jewish population, for instance, has grown nearly tenfold in the intervening years, from 700,000 to almost 6.4 million. When independence was declared in 1948, Israel’s Jews constituted a mere 6 percent of the world Jewish population; today they are at 43 percent. Moreover, 75 percent of Israel’s Jewish population is native-born, more than twice the percentage in 1948. Back then, there were only 34,000 vehicles on the roads; today there are three million. And so forth.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Israeli Independence Day