I like Jews. I admire Israel. I applaud the mind-boggling achievements the Jewish community worldwide amassed, usually with both hands tied behind the back and both feet shackled to some form of persecution. I don’t envy wealth created by Jews, nor do I see Israel as the “world’s Jew,” conniving to undercut other people in a harsh world.
But a lot of people do have that worldview. They somehow choose to denigrate (if not outright persecute) Jews for the simple act of … succeeding. Imagine if the bloated Herman Goering had had to create his own wealth apart from killing Jews to get his beefy hands on theirs. In our world today, envious, unhinged slackers marinate in a loathing of Jews that borders on supernatural – so readily unexplainable is the animus for people who simply work hard and succeed.
All this is why George Gilder’s book, “The Israel Test,” is so fascinating. Gilder, a writer, entrepreneur, and observer of Israel’s apparently bottomless capacity for innovation, has crafted a compelling look at the Jewish state, and his book serves as a powerful tool for advocacy. After all, if much of the world would begin studying Israel’s extraordinary record of achievement and stop harassing the Jewish state, the lives of others could be enhanced on a scale never before seen.
The subtitle of Gilder’s masterwork says it all: “Why the World’s Most Beseiged State is a Beacon of Freedom and Hope for the World Economy.”
Got a superpower or two going wobbly economically? Check out Israel’s ability to create a great deal out of not much. Interested in helping Third World countries climb out of the pig trough of poverty? Learn Israeli innovation for agricultural, technological and societal improvement.
Interestingly, Gilder attributes much of Israel’s success to the Jewish “culture of the mind,” and to Judaism itself, which, “perhaps more than any other religion, favors capitalist activity and provides a rigorous moral framework for it.”
Okay, sure, some will have a problem with even those statements, but for the rest of us who can think objectively, Israel’s achievements in the last 65 years are seriously unprecedented. From a desolate and dreary land to a robust economy that is actually getting stronger in the face of a worldwide recession/depression, Israel has vast ideas and initiatives to offer.
Gilder sees clearly that mistaken perspectives of Israel – such as the claim that the “settlements” are drying up water resources, etc. – are in fact simply wrong.
He also has a way with the witty phrase: “Although Worldwatch [a critic of Israel] might prefer to see the Middle East returned to the more Earth-friendly and sustainable demographics of Chad, the fact that some 5.5 million Arabs now live in the former British Mandate, with a life expectancy of more than 70 years, is mainly attributable, for better or worse, to the work of those Jewish settlers [who drained the malaria-infested swamps where a quarter-million Arabs lived a century ago].”
Gilder, who asserts that “the most precious resource in the world economy is human genius,” has created, in “The Israel Test,” an irrefutable account of Jews drastically improving the quality of life wherever they live. Nowhere of course is this more striking than in Israel itself.
Listen to just a snippet from this remarkable book, and meditate on the almost-unbelievable achievements: “My interest in Israeli innovation began in 1998, when I invited an Israeli physicist named David Medved to speak at the Gilder/Forbes Telecosm conference. Medved described the promise of ‘free-spaceoptics’ – what most of us call ‘light’ – for high-end communications among corporate buildings and campuses. He also spoke of air force experiments in Israel that used the still-higher frequencies and shorter waves of ultraviolet light for battlefield communications. At a time when most of the world’s communications, wired and wireless, were migrating to the electromagnetic spectrum, some of the most important explorations of electromagnetic technology, I realized, were taking place in Israel.”
Doesn’t this make more sense than building bomb belts and Kassam rockets? Isn’t the Israeli way better than either al-Qaeda’s plans for the region, or even the morally bankrupt endeavors of Western diplomats, who usually spend more time undermining amazing Israel than really attempting to solve problems?
Gilder also includes a chapter, “The Central Importance of Benjamin Netanyahu,” that will surely raise the blood pressure of the Israeli prime minister’s many delusional critics. But you have to get the book to read about it!
Gilder exhibits a capacity for not only seeing the practical value of Israeli innovation, but also understanding the moral failures of the Jewish state’s critics. Anyone who can discern “the demented screeds of Noam Chomsky or Naomi Klein” is a thinker of the first order, in my book.
A quote near the end of the book, from David Gelernter of the Weekly Standard, sums up a key plot point in the story of modern Israel: “Now, every human being on earth who cares about facts and can tell a lie from truth knows that there was no such thing as ‘Palestinian nationalism’ until modern Zionism created it out of whole cloth, by placing enormous value on a piece of land that used to seem as precious to its landlords as a rat-ridden empty lot in a burnt-out neighborhood in the middle of nowhere, in the suburbs of nothing.”
Oh, but the world likes to paint Israel as a brutal occupier of Arab land, and if only they’d either move or die, or both, “Palestine” could go back to being an oasis.
As “The Israel Test” so expertly points out, not only have the Jews transformed the region into a lush land; their innovations and expertise provide tantalizing opportunities for the entire planet.
If only the haters would see it.
“The Israel Test” is a remarkable book.