Don’t Let Traffic Jams Detract from the Jewish State’s Remarkable Achievements

March 5, 2020 | Jonathan Tobin
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On Sunday, the New York Times published a long article titled “Israel, ‘Start-up Nation,’ Groans under Strains of Growth and Neglect,” lamenting the Jewish state’s congested roads, overcrowded hospitals, and various social and economic problems—not to mention political deadlock. While there is truth to specific points in the article, Jonathan Tobin writes that, taken as a whole, it misses the forest for the trees. Indeed, it may say more about the pathologies of the Times than about those of its subject:

Israel is only 71 years old. A century ago, Zionism was a dream dismissed by most Jews as a fantasy that would not come true. And even after the state was declared, smart people thought it could not survive. Who among Zionism’s critics could have predicted that a poor yishuv of 600,000 Jewish souls could withstand the might of the rest of the Middle East and then, with the financial help of the Diaspora, provide homes for hundreds of thousands of survivors of the Holocaust in Europe and a still larger total of Jews who were forced to flee their homes in the Arab and Islamic world?

Since then, Israel has faced existential challenges, as well as daunting economic, political, and military problems. For the last five decades, we’ve been told that Israel cannot thrive or survive in the long run without peace with the Palestinian Arabs, only to see it grow stronger and wealthier during that period even though an end to the conflict is nowhere in sight.

In the 1980s, it wasn’t clear how Israel—still a poor country where consumer goods like appliances or even jeans were in short supply—could navigate an economic crisis that had wrecked the value of its currency in an inflationary crisis. But less than three decades later, a Third World backwater has become a First World powerhouse, with many of its enemies recognizing that the nation is simply too strong and too wealthy to be destroyed. Though the process of change was hampered by corruption and inefficiencies, the result has still been a dramatic makeover that is the envy of the world.

Those who lament [Israel’s flaws] should remember that its current crop of First World problems are a lot better than the ones it used to face. And by now, we should all know that betting against Israel is always a losing proposition.

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