No year in Israel can be considered ordinary. This is the land held in title deed by the Almighty, pledged in an everlasting covenant to the children of Abraham. Here, the astounding and against-all-odds serve as the building blocks of history. Yet the fulfillment of promise is more than a historic fact. In Israel, the miraculous is a daily reality; the prophecies of Scripture steer the course of life and something as common as speaking the native tongue or harvesting vegetables constitutes promise fulfilled.
2018 brought more than its fair share of threats: the first overt military action between Israel and Iran waged in Syrian airspace; the advent of a new type of terror with Hamas flying thousands of incendiary kites and balloons across the border, setting the south of Israel on fire; and ongoing riots on the Israel–Gaza border with violent protesters attempting to tear down the fence and infiltrate Israel.
Even with threats looming from all sides, 2018 was a year to remember. Israel celebrated a milestone birthday; welcomed the US embassy to its capital; applauded US president Donald Trump for walking away from the flawed Iran nuclear deal; brought the Eurovision trophy home and snatched the proof of Iran’s nuclear ambitions from a secret facility in Tehran—all while growing in strength and building tentative friendships with unlikely allies.
Here’s to another big year for Israel!
“An amazing year! A year in which we celebrated 70 years of the independence of Israel. A year of flourishing our state. The year that our relationships became stronger with global leadership. A year in which the American embassy moved to Jerusalem. A year in which our unemployment reached an all-time low. A year in which we reduced the gap between the classes. A year in which our infrastructure peaked. We had an amazing year because of you. And next year we will have an even better year, more amazing than this.”
—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”
“In Israel, the most important event of the Jewish calendar year was, in fact, the one that did not occur. There was no war. Despite a number of serious escalations in the south, in spite of the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas… against all odds and under intense pressure… The war that did not happen is the defining event of the year.”
—Lily Galili in “5778: Israel’s War-free But Rocky Year Draws to a Close”
“Israel managed to avoid a full-scale war up north. But there was fighting. Enemy rockets managed to shoot down an Israeli F-16i, Iranian rockets landed in the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee], and Iranian drones and a Syrian pilot penetrated into Israel’s airspace. On the flip side, Israel launched over 200 successful attacks against Iranian targets in Syria, knocking out the majority of the Syrian/Iranian advanced air defense systems, while maintaining a strong diplomatic push to keep Iran away from the Israeli border.”
—Stephen Leavitt in “A Surprising 5778, an Unpredictable 5779”
“It would be impossible to invent a country with more going against it than that small patch of desert and swamp surrounded by enemies committed to driving its inhabitants into the sea. Yet look at its achievements. Kia kaha (Māori phrase meaning stay strong) Israel!”
—Radvad, New Zealand blogger wishing Israel a happy 70th birthday
“As the modern Israeli state celebrates 70 years, the prevailing sentiment is one of extraordinary accomplishment. Israelis are fully conscious—and deeply proud—of the fact that their country has exceeded the ambitions of the men and women who founded it seven decades ago.”
—Daniel Gordis in “Israel’s First 70 Years Have Surprised the World”
“We were once a country whose ultimate pride was in the export of oranges, and which suffered from a chronic balance of payments deficit and then from huge public debt and runaway inflation… It would be proper to take the opportunity to mention the amazing achievements made by the Israeli economy in the 70 years of the state’s existence.”
—Karnit Flug, Bank of Israel governor
“We have gone from being a very poor, weak and small country, 70 years ago, to an innovation powerhouse, globally known as a center for startups and innovation. Israel’s startup ecosystem continues to grow and attract more investment and large companies from all over the world, who are buying up Israeli technologies and are setting up research and development centers locally.”
—Saul Singer, co-author of Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
“This tiny population has spurred advancements in technology, medicine and agriculture, making the world a healthier, safer and more prosperous place. These are the blessings we hope Israel can one day share with its neighbors.”
—Jared Kushner, senior advisor to president Trump
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. I am delivering. It was 70 years ago that the United States recognized the state of Israel. We finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”
—US president Donald Trump
“This was the year that the US gave Israel the best gift for her 70th birthday: it moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
—Steve Linde, editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Report
“Nothing comes for free and the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem will come at a price and it is worth paying it. We should be prepared to pay a price.”
—Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman
“What a glorious day. Remember this moment! President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history. We are in Jerusalem, and we are here to stay!”
—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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