(March 22, 2019 / JNS) When I was a child, my grandfather described his experience growing up in severely anti-Semitic Austria, where he solicited money for the Jewish National Fund in support of a future Jewish homeland. He fought his way into classes at the University of Vienna, confronting lines of students brandishing sticks and blocking his entrance—solely because he was a Jew. His dream, and that of many other European Jews who were continually and at times violently reminded of their differentness, became a reality with the birth of Israel.
Jewish history is deep, rich and replete with enormous challenges. Our people have persevered, lasted and succeeded, often as near-strangers in foreign lands. We have endured extreme persecution and mass extermination. Finally, after 2,000 years, the Jewish people have arisen to create a country of our own, a nation reborn in the land of our ancestors. The formation and survival of a Jewish state in the Middle East is a modern-day miracle.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Israel’s founding Jews confronted a life-or-death battle against far larger, more practiced, and much better armed and equipped invading forces from the surrounding Arab countries. With everything at stake, they prevailed.
In subsequent years, Israel triumphed in several defensive wars against these enemies, eventually signing peace treaties with two of them. In response to perpetual threats to her existence, Israel developed one of the world’s most formidable militaries; U.S. News and World Report ranks Israel as the eighth most powerful country in the world. Through Israel, all Jews gained the ability to protect ourselves from attack. Does anybody believe the Shoah could have or would have occurred had there been an Israel?
Moreover, Israel has not just survived, she has thrived. In only 70 years, the Jewish homeland has become a high technology and industrial manufacturing powerhouse, this year ranking fifth on Bloomberg’s list of the world’s most innovative countries. Israel has become a veritable Silicon Valley in the Middle East.
With a 2018 per capita GDP slightly less than that of the United Kingdom and greater than that of Japan, the Startup Nation is No. 1 in the world in startups per capita and has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than all countries except the United States and China. Israeli cybersecurity companies secured approximately 20 percent of the world’s venture-based cybersecurity investments—more than $1 billion—in 2018, second only to the United States.
Israeli businesses and educational institutions continue to release a near daily stream of announcements about discoveries in medicine and science—from new approaches to fight cancer to tools that allow paraplegics to walk again. As Israel’s novel water technologies help solve the world’s water crisis, it is about to become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon. From Israel’s ancient capital of Jerusalem, where followers of the world’s great religions live peacefully together with full freedom to worship, to the sleek, modern buildings and sunny beaches of swanky Tel Aviv, the Jewish state is flourishing.
Given this unique history and Israel’s extraordinary accomplishments, I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve as general chair of the Israel Bonds Cleveland Advisory Council. Working to support the health, growth and vitality of our Jewish nation is a profound privilege.
Israel Bonds are an ideal vehicle for us to support the continued growth and success of our Jewish country. In keeping with Israel’s economic strength and proud entrepreneurial spirit, Israel Bonds are not charity. In fact, Israel has never missed an interest or principal payment on its bonds. Rather, they are investments that allow us to more closely bind our hearts to our beloved homeland.
We live in an era when the demands of our secular lives often pull us away from our heritage. As such, Israel Bonds are gifts we can purchase for our children and grandchildren, just as my parents and grandparents did for me. After 2,000 years of struggle, the success of the State of Israel has given Jews around the world reason to hold our heads high. Israel Bonds literally bond Jews around the world to our homeland and our heritage; they are essential to the continuation of our story.
Roger D. Klein, M.D., J.D., currently serves as voluntary general chairman of Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds Cleveland Advisory Council. He is a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Law, Science and Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.