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Only in Israel

January 11, 2022
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Calling Israel “no ordinary country” is something of an understatement. Here, the miraculous serves as the building blocks of history, cemented by the Keeper of Israel’s faithfulness. Here, no day is mundane, no chain of events random and no news headline arbitrary. And here, in this remarkable little country, even everyday life becomes infused with the exceptional, the uncommon and sometimes the surprising. Extraordinary Israel is indeed filled with people, practices, experiences and incidents so delightfully unique to this country that all too often, you are left shaking your head with a brilliant smile, thinking, “Only in Israel.” Let’s take a look at some of the wonderful—and worrying—things that set this country apart.

A Light to the Nations

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
—Genesis 22:18a, God’s promise to Abraham, the father of the Jews

“The Land of Israel will be small, but the people of Israel will make it great. Not in opulence, but in eminence will their destiny be fulfilled, and the elixir of their pride will be distilled not out of dominion or far-flung borders, but out of the faithful and skillful building of the good society.”
—Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver

“The day will come, when the story of Israel in modern times will speak not just to Jews, but to all who believe in the power of the human spirit as it reaches out to God, as an everlasting symbol of the victory of life over death, hope over despair. Israel has achieved great things. It has taken a barren land and made it bloom again. It’s taken an ancient language, the Hebrew of the Bible, and made it speak again. It’s taken the West’s oldest faith and made it young again. Israel has taken a tattered, shattered nation and made it live again. Israel is the country whose national anthem, Hatikvah, means hope. Israel is the home of hope.”
— Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

“Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.”
—Winston Churchill, former British prime minister

Against All Odds

“Israel is the only country in the world all of whose neighbors proclaim night and day that they are determined to destroy it—and the early days of our renewed independence bear witness that these are not mere words. Hence our principal concern is security, although our daily efforts are dedicated to the ingathering of exiles, the absorption of the immigrants, the fructification and population of the wasteland, the development of agriculture, industry and transport, the fostering of education, science, literature and art, and the creation of new social patterns founded on freedom, equality, tolerance, mutual aid and the love of our fellow men.”
—David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister

“How is it that Israel—a country of 7.1 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the UK?”
—Dan Senor and Saul Singer in “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”

“We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel.”
—Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister

“If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him…All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
—Mark Twain, author

“The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms, there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms, there would be no more war.”
—Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli prime minister

“When, during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery. Today, Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.”
—Andrew Roberts, historian

Where Ancient Meets Cutting-edge

“This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and groundbreaking innovation. Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated at the same time.”
—Barak Obama, former US president

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.”
—Benjamin Disraeli, former British prime minister

Uniquely Reviled

“If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
—Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese terror organization perched on Israel’s northern border

“If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”
—Abba Eban, Israeli diplomat and politician

“Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor…that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.”
—Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian supreme leader

Photo Credit: Noam Armonn/shutterstock.com

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