Do You Pass the Israel Test?

Jun 30, 2014

Would you believe us if we said that the best litmus test of any society's success is its attitude towards Israel? Well, it's true. As George Gilder explains, whether a society envies and resents Israel's success or celebrates and tries to replicate it is indicative of that society's progress. Countries that "pass" the "Israel Test" tend to rise. Those who don't tend to sink. So, does your society pass the "Israel Test"? In five minutes, find out.

Despite its small size, Israel has become a world leader in technological innovation—2nd only to the U.S. in six key fields. 

  • Despite its small population compared to other global leaders, Israel is a world leader in important technological innovations.View Source
  • According to Deloitte and Touche, Israel ranks second – only to the United States – in the world in technological innovation in six key fields: telecom, microchips, software, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and clean energy.View Source

The Palestinians’ population has grown massively—from a quarter million to over 5 million—in large part thanks to Israel.

  • Before Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza, the Arab population numbered between 200,000-300,000. Today, approximately 5.5 million Arabs reside in the West Bank and Gaza in large part thanks to Jewish ingenuity. The result has been massively multiplied agricultural yields, businesses, jobs, and capital investment.View Source

How you feel about Israel says a lot about how you view others’ success.

  • Economist George Gilder argues that how individuals and nations view Israel goes back to whether they resent its success and ignore its achievements, or learn from it and promote the ingenuity and the civil order it represents. “At the heart of anti-Semitism is the resentment of Jewish achievement,” writes Gilder.View Source

Jews turned arid deserts in the Middle East into fertile, livable land resulting in a massive increase in agricultural yields. 

  • Jewish settlers desalinated local soil, drained swamp land, dug over 500 wells, and created canal systems to water crops, farms, and orchards. The result has been a massive increase in agricultural yields, businesses, jobs, and capital investment as well as large increases in both the Jewish population and Arab populations in the region.View Source

The Jews pioneered economic revival in the West Bank and Gaza.

  • From 1921 to 1942, Jewish settlers saw the number of businesses in the region increase four-fold, the number of jobs increase ten-fold, and total capital investment increase from $700,000 to $70 million in 1942 currency. Today, the West Bank and Gaza are thriving in population size and economic activity.View Source

How do you respond to people who excel you in invention, creativity, and wealth? Do you envy them? Do you feel their success somehow diminishes you? Or do you admire what they’ve achieved and try to emulate it?

These questions sum up what I call “The Israel Test.” 

In the 1880s, European Jews settled in mandate Palestine and wrought an agricultural miracle in that desolate territory, then sparsely populated by a few score thousand Jews and a couple hundred thousand Arabs. 

The Jewish settlers drained malarial swamps, leached salt from the soils, terraced the barren hills, and planted millions of trees. They massively expanded the capacity of the land and enabled it to support a substantial Arab population. 

In the two decades between 1921 and 1943, Jews quadrupled the number of enterprises, multiplied the number of jobs by a factor of 10, and increased the level of capital investment a hundredfold. Far from displacing Arabs, they provided the capital for a major expansion of Arab farms and enabled a sevenfold rise in Arab population by 1948, to a level of 1.35 million, the largest in the long history of Palestine.  In other words, the Arabs came to what would be soon be the State of Israel because of the Jews. 

By comparison, Trans-Jordan, now known as Jordan, with the same geological endowment and four times the land but no Jews was able to sustain a population density only one tenth of the population density of Palestine.

Crucial to Israel’s accomplishments were world leading technological advances in the recovery of water through desalinization, drip irrigation, and sewage recycling. 

Over the past fifty years, Israel has increased its population tenfold, its agricultural production sixteen fold and its industrial production fifty-fold while actually reducing net water consumption by ten percent since 1948. This huge expansion of effective water resources enabled the land to support not only more Jews, but also millions more Arabs. 

Today the state of Israel with its astonishing achievements in computer science and other high tech fields distills both the genius of the Jews and the misdirected anger of the failed states that surround her.

The great divide in the Middle East is not between Arab and Jew but between admiration of achievement, along with a desire to replicate it, and envy accompanied by violent resentment. 

People who admire success, who pass the Israel Test, tend to be wealthy and peaceful. People who resent achievement, who fail the Israel Test, tend to become poor and violent.

So, again...

How do you respond to people who excel you in invention, creativity, and wealth?

Do you envy them? Do you feel their success somehow diminishes you? 

Or do you admire what they’ve achieved and try to emulate it?

The Israel Test is the central divide in the world today. 

How you answer it as an individual and ultimately how we answer it as a nation is a test of our own will to triumph over enemies who hate us, as they hate Israel, for what is best within us.

I’m George Gilder -- a non-Jew who has passed the Israel Test -- for Prager University.

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