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New Year Best Wishes to Israel

Let’s  start this year’s blogs with a toast to Israel for 2016: that great start-up nation in every sense of the phrase.

The nation that recreated itself out of the ashes of a failed European dream. The nation that somehow, miraculously, melded an impossibly heterogeneous, ragtag, angry, frightened, despairing, polyglot flood of refugees and turn them into a vibrant, 21st century, democratic state able and willing to compete on the world stage – and, on the way, to overcome obstacles both internal and external, material and human that singly would have sunk most similar enterprises but, taken in combination, represents the most heroic victory of any nation over circumstance and personal limitation I can think of.

The nation that took every challenge and stood it on its head to become one of the world leaders in enterprise and innovation, mass literacy and cultural activity, employment, health indices, efficient water usage, human rights under the most testing of conditions; even, believe it or not, safe motoring. And, let us not forget, that irresistibly charming chutzpah without which I have no doubt Israel would have been trodden into the sand.

Oh yes, I can hear critics say, but you haven’t factored in the immense aid and support from the world’s superpower. You haven’t factored in the support of the Jewish Diaspora, financial and human. You have forgotten the role of Christian Zionists and other well-wishers and allies in providing morale and more tangible forms of assistance to Israel in its many hours of need.

No, I haven’t forgotten any of that. Nor have I forgotten the moral and strategic missteps made by Israel and Israelis and the complex challenges it still faces within and outside its borders and the fact that the story is yet in progress with the end nowhere in sight. But, taking all that and more into account I am proud to be part of the most heroic project undertaken by any people, anywhere.

And if in my writings I should find occasion to criticise Israel – as I surely will – let my readers be aware of the foundations from which I make  such critical comments. And as for those Jews who see Israel as a moral burden, as a constraint on their own relationships with their fellow citizens, as a source of angst or even shame, you have my condolences and may you make a speedy recovery and join the party.

I hope this will be the start of many conversations between me and the readers of this blog and each other for the next 12 months.

Mike Berger


2 responses to “New Year Best Wishes to Israel

  1. amweston2013 January 4, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    What a wonderful article Mike, have sent on to many. Best regards and wishes for 2016.



  2. Geoff January 4, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I would like to thank Mike for his good wishes for the New Year and for the hope that Israel will continue to flourish. Many of the people here in Israel do not always agree with the policies of the present government but almost all are prepared to do anything to contribute to the future of the state. I can see the number of adults who are only too willing to go on reserve duty in spite of the fact that this means them leaving their homes and work for a few days to a few weeks annually . I am also aware of the hardships that the graduates of high school have to face during their 3 years of compulsory service. In addition this means that further studies have to be postponed for at least 3 years. Those going on to an officer’s training course may stay in the army for 4 or more years. This may have a positive side in that most students are older and more mature and know that they have to get on with their studies. Army service is a unifying factor in Israeli life.

    Looking on SA from a distance I feel tremendous disappointment in the failure of the country to move ahead. SA is a country with great natural resources and should be making use of them to achieve progress for all the peoples of this rainbow nation. What has happened?


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