Ten Israeli Myths to Junk

Article Summary
During the holiday, freedom is celebrated and myths are revisited, writes Shay Golden. On the seventh day of Passover, the passage through the Sea of Reeds, the leap of faith, is commemorated. It is an occasion to free oneself from beliefs one should not take for granted about Israel.

Israel faces danger of annihilation. No, it doesn’t. Really, not even close. The Foreign Affairs asserts that the IDF is the seventh-strongest military in the world, and according to other foreign publications, Israel ranks as the world’s fifth nuclear power. An Iranian missile equipped with a nuclear warhead would indeed alter the strategic balance of power in the Middle East. However, the Arrow defense system should cope with any significant ballistic threat to the country, whose tight air-defense array would make it hard, if not downright impossible, to penetrate with a fighter jet. (And by the way, who is to say that at the end of the course, things will not pan out well for Israel?) And one more update: ever since August 1945, when the United States dropped the bomb, no other country has made use of nuclear weapons. That is true of the Soviet Union under Stalin and Khrushchev, contentious Pakistan and India, or North Korea under the mad Kim Jong-Il. The upshot is that history teaches us that even if Iran does acquire nuclear weapons in the end, this will be more of a flag to brandish than a real existential danger.

Israel’s economy is on the verge of disaster. Take it easy. Disasters can strike at any given time, but the country’s macro indicators suggest differently. Israel’s foreign-currency reserves have reached an all-time record. The shekel is a strong and stable currency. The country’s credit rating is not changing, and Israel's ability to pay off debts is better than most European countries. Inflation is under control, and the unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the West. The average income per capita and the public’s purchasing power invariably feature in the upper third of any global chart. Barring some social inequities that can be remedied, the economic situation is infinitely better than what could have been expected at a time of acute international crisis.

Freedom of expression in Israel is the worst it’s ever been. Baloney. Never before have there been more media outlets, soapboxes and journalists. Israel’s technological robustness and ubiquitous broadband infrastructure, which is constantly upgrading and improving, provide countless arenas for millions of Israelis to speak their minds freely, without any censorship. Blogs, social networks, large and small internet sites – we have it all. There may be just a handful of NGOs or political organizations that do not have their own web sites from which they can reach every Israeli or foreigner without hindrance.

The Sea of Galilee is Israel’s most important water source. Drink a glass of water and chill out. Experts contend that Israel has two billion cubic meters of water at its disposal annually, all coming from underground sources or springs. It is enough water to easily meet the country’s annual water consumption of approximately 1.5 billion cubic meters. The Sea of Galilee – better known locally as Lake Kinneret – is just an added bonus.

Having an ethical code is an alternative to upholding the law. Not really. Drawing “public conclusions” are not an alternative either. Nor is it the way to deal with people who have gone astray or have been remiss in their duty. It’s not enough also for police investigations, although this has become the fashion in every company or government ministry. Instead of formulating an ethical code, why don’t you try telling the truth?

Public service is a sure recipe for a life of poverty. Wait a minute. If that’s the case, how is it possible that all former civil servants from the Ministry of Finance are now bona fide millionaires? How is it possible that all our prime ministers wear luxury wristwatches? How is it possible that all Israeli generals are real-estate moguls? And we haven’t said a word about the munificent benefits that civil servants receive while on duty. No doubt, they’re all subject to abject poverty. Making a bundle is apparently the new poor.

Israeli soccer has never been worse off. Nonsense. Thirty-five Israeli footballers are currently playing in seven different European leagues. This is an unprecedented record number that puts Israel ninth among the countries exporting footballers. An empire? Yes, but with an inferiority complex and management issues.

Israeli literature is dead. You think? If that were the case, how is it possible that the past decade has been the best in Israel’s history in terms of the number of new books that have been written, published, bought and read? In the past two years, more than fifty Israeli authors have seen their books translated into foreign languages, and over a thousand books have been translated since the establishment of the state. The standing of the author? That’s a different story. But as far as literature goes – it booms.

Have a happy holiday. You know it’s not going to happen, so why lie?

Holiday lists should include ten bullet points. Not quite; having nine was really awesome, wasn’t it?  

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