While much of the conversation around Israel revolves around its conflict with the Palestinians, the BDS movement against the Jewish state, Iran’s nuclear threat and political elections that never end, there’s a whole other story that doesn’t get much attention: Israel is becoming a country for humanity.
That thought was on my mind this week after spending time in Jerusalem with my friend Jonathan Medved, who runs an innovation investment platform called Our Crowd. Over a late afternoon coffee at the King David Hotel, Medved riffed on a country that produces innovation the way a thriving grower produces grapes.
Since the mission of his organization is to secure investment for these innovations, Medved has been at the forefront of Israel’s obsession with solving universal problems. From medical care to the environment to AI to cybersecurity to green technology to food security to water generation to energy conservation to airport efficiency to countless other areas, Israeli innovations now affect all of humanity.
This is not a new idea. Since the book Start-Up Nation came out more than a decade ago, the word has gotten out about how tiny Israel punches above its weight—about how the country’s urgent, no-nonsense culture of achievement is ideally suited for innovation.
The problem is that “Start-Up Nation” became a ubiquitous cliché that was taken for granted. Even when major innovators like Apple, Microsoft and Intel announced significant investments in Israel, it fell into a familiar narrative. Just more of the same.
It’s only when the Abraham Accords were signed that “Start-Up Nation” began to get a fresh, universal face. While Israel has been exporting its innovations around the world for years, this was different. Here were Arab nations, after decades of hostility to the Jewish state, transcending that enmity for the sake of a shared humanity.
You would think this overarching story would become big news. A people returning home after 1,900 years of exile, searching for refuge in the wake of the Holocaust, becoming one of the hottest innovation hubs in the world and a source of solutions for some of humanity’s most pressing problems.
And yet, the world still yawns.
How is that possible? Why haven’t Israel’s stunning accomplishments become big news? For one thing, because good news and Israel don’t go well together. Among the left, nothing must interfere with Israel’s failure to make peace with the Palestinians. Among liberal Zionists, good news about Israel tends to be dismissed as hasbara—just another tool to build good PR.
Among the Jew-hating BDS crowd, the notion that a country they demonize is crucial to humanity is a nightmare scenario. That very idea must be suppressed and boycotted at all costs.
Among media outlets that are routinely biased against Israel, a transcendent story of the Jewish state helping humanity disrupts the familiar narrative of a big, bad and guilty Israel.
At the United Nations, where Israel is condemned more than any other country, how can it also be celebrated as the world’s most useful nation? Talk about cognitive dissonance.
In short, if you’re someone who’s used to putting down Israel, extraordinary news about Israel can really mess with your head.
I wonder if Israeli innovators worry about any of this stuff. I’m guessing they’re not spending too much time agonizing over BDS or the biased coverage of Israel or how Israel is treated at the United Nations. In their labs and tech centers, they’re agonizing instead over finding cures for chronic diseases or creating green technologies that will heal the planet.
I’m guessing they’re so busy solving problems that make the world a better place they’re oblivious to the fact that much of the world hasn’t noticed.
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and the “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published by Jewish Journal.