What have the Israelis done for us?

From Telegraph blogs

The world’s most controversial babyboomer is 63 years old today, so raise a glass to the State of Israel, born May 10 1948.

As the Onion reported at the time (well, in their historical book Our Dumb Century):

War-weary Jews establish homeland between Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt
“In Israel, Our People Will Finally Have Safety and Peace,” Says Ben-Gurion
Jordan Welcomes New Neighbors with Celbratory Gunfire, Rock Throwing

After more than 2,000 years of wandering and persecution, including six million deaths at the hand of Nazi Germany, the Jewish people finally established a homeland Monday, a place of safety and peace nestled between Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.

“No longer will the Jewish race live in a constant state of fear and endangerment, its very existence threatened at every turn by hostile outsiders,” said David Ben-Gurion, the new nation’s first prime minister, addressing a jubilant crowd of Zionists at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. “Here in Israel, we are safe, far away from those who seek to destroy us.”

Ben-Gurion said he looks forward to years of harmony and cooperation with Israel’s neighboring states. “Jordan seems extremely happy to have us as a new neighbor,” he said. “Last night, from my window, I could hear great explosions coming from the Gaza Strip. How wonderful of the Palestinian peoples there to celebrate our arrival with fireworks.”

In his official greeting to Israel yesterday, Egypt’s King Farouk issued the following statement: “Egypt does not and will not ever recognize the so-called state of Israel’s right to exist. Israel is a land built on Jewish lies and the spilled blood of countless Arabs. Until the territory called Israel is returned to is rightful Palestinian owners, Egypt will have no choice but to consider itself at war with the Jewish people.”

As a token of its good will, Syria presented Israel with a burning Israeli flag, with an attached note that read, “May you be swiftly driven into the sea and drowned.”

In the months leading up to Monday’s formal declaration of Israeli statehood, hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors from around the world have flocked to Israel, where they will finally find a safe haven from anti-Semitism. “This is a dream come true,” said Holocaust survivor Zadie Dubrovnik, 59, who left her native Lithuania for Israel last week. “In this place, we will build a refuge of peace, far away from those who hate us.”
Ben-Gurion said that with no need to defend itself from enemies, Israel will be free to spend billions of dollars on domestic development that other nations would be forced to devote to a defense budget. Military expenditures are expected to account for just two percent of the country’s overall budget, as Israel will be a place of peace, not war.

Alas, as always, the Onion is funniest when addressing bitterly unfunny realities. The Israelis and Palestinians have effectively been at war, with periods of calm between, for the last 63 years, and does anyone remotely believe there’s any end in sight? People will still be dying 63 years from now and the rest of the world will still be banging away at their keyboards arguing over it, so much so that future alien civilisations will think that the Holy Land must have been some super-continent and home to 90 per cent of the world’s mineral wealth.

As the conflict has dragged on many Europeans have come to see Zionism as a terrible mistake and Israel a liability, and today Israelis are perhaps the only people on earth whose very right to exist is not recognised by a large section of the world’s population.

And yet although the debate centres around whether Israel has been good and right for the Jewish people, weighed against the interests of the Arabs, the media largely ignores the benefits Israel has brought to the world; one of the least talked about aspects of the country is its incredible and unique contribution to science.
In terms of inventions Israelis have given the world the Uzi, the mobile phone (partly), camera chips for phones, SMS messaging and the first anti-virus software; Israel has the highest percentage of home computers per capita and the third most educated workforce on earth, with 12 per cent holding advanced degrees. The country also has more engineers and scientists per head than any other country around the world, and more companies quoted on the high-tech NASDAQ stock exchange than any other country outside the United States, more than all of Europe, India, and China combined.

Israelis are also at the forefront of medical research into heart transplants, strokes and Hepatitis C. Incredibly, some Israelis are even at work on a space mission, which could make that tiny state of seven million people the third country to land a probe on the Moon. Jews on the Moon? Conspiracy theorists won’t know where to start.
In the last ten years Israeli scientists have won five Noble prizes in the sciences, a tally bettered by only four other nations, while per capita Israel produces more economists than any other country.

Israel also publishes a huge number of Scientific and Technical Journal Articles, some 16,470 in 2005, more than the entire Arab world and Iran combined. And the Jewish state produces an astonishing number of inventors. Last year in the United States Israelis registered 1917 patents, just below Italy (58 million people) and the Netherlands (15 million) and way ahead of its neighbours Saudi Arabia (58) Turkey (45) Egypt (20) Kuwait (14) UAE (9) Iran (8) Lebanon (5) Jordan (1) and Syria (0). Israel itself grants 2500 patents a year, putting it in the top 20 of all countries and again more than all its neighbours combined. Israel is number one in the world for medical device patents per head of population and number four for biotechnology patents per capita. And its biotechnology exports are now worth $6 billion a year.

So whatever one’s view on the ongoing conflict, and to what portion each side is to blame, that’s a pretty awesome achievement for what many dismiss as a “sh**** little country”.

What do you think?