At its most fundamental level, Yom Ha’atzmaut commemorates the moment in 1948 when David Ben-Gurion stood before the world and declared Israel’s independence.
On a deeper level, Yom Ha’atzmaut represents the culmination of Jewish aspirations. For over 2,000 years, the Jewish people never lost sight of their goal of a reborn homeland. From the destruction of the Second Temple to centuries of Diaspora, from the convening of the First Zionist Congress to the long-awaited establishment of a sovereign Jewish nation, Yom Ha’atzmaut is the embodiment of Jewish resolve.
This in turn has led to an enormous sense of strength and purpose that is apparent throughout the worldwide Jewish community. Jews no longer live in fear of pogroms or Holocaust, but instead walk with heads held high.
On a spiritual level, Yom Ha’atzmaut means Israel and Jerusalem are no longer spoken of in the abstract. Israel’s rebirth has brought all Jews closer to their heritage and traditions.
Finally, Yom Ha’atzmaut represents the ongoing triumph of the Israeli spirit. Over the course of 66 years, what Israelis have accomplished in the face of continuous geopolitical and environmental challenge has been nothing short of astonishing.
This is true not only in the context of military victories and conquering the desert, but also in building a strong economy, which ranks as one of Israel’s finest achievements.
Far larger nations, with an abundance of resources and few, if any, external threats, have failed to keep pace with Israel’s economic accomplishments. What is the secret to Israel’s success? The answer is four-fold.
First, Israel has become an outstanding example of conservative fiscal policy. As governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Stanley Fischer was instrumental in positioning Israel’s economy as a model to emulate, and Prime Minister Netanyahu excels at disciplined fiscal policy as well.
The second factor was the historic influx of Soviet Jewry. Those immigrants played an invaluable role in contributing science and technology to Israel’s economy, helping to position Israeli high-tech – the third factor in the nation’s economic success – as among the best in the world.
Seemingly every day, another Israeli company announces a groundbreaking innovation attracting international attention. Israel’s creative spirit has, in turn, led to a quantum rise in exports, a vital prerequisite for any country’s economic strength.
The fourth, and most recent factor, is Israel’s massive natural gas finds. At one time, the idea of Israel as not only energy independent, but also as an energy exporter, seemed completely implausible. Today, thanks to these discoveries, energy will be a pillar of Israel’s economy for decades to come.
As we express pride in Israel’s economy, we also take pride in the role the Israel Bonds organization has played in strengthening that economy. Almost three years to the day after declaring independence, Ben-Gurion announced the launching of the Bonds enterprise.
Since that historic moment, worldwide sales have exceeded $36 billion. In 2013, U.S. sales alone totaled more than $1.12 billion, nearly double the sales figures for 2011. Domestic sales for 2014 are rapidly approaching half a billion dollars.
Of course, not everyone applauds Israel’s stellar economic achievements, most especially the BDS movement. BDS — short for Boycott/Divest/Sanction, or as Prime Minister Netanyahu has so aptly phrased it, ‘Bigotry, Dishonesty and Shame” — is a hypocritical movement that cynically attacks Israel, and Israel alone, despite egregious human rights violations in dozens of countries around the world.
BDS advocates employ confrontational economic tactics in the belief they will succeed in isolating and weakening Israel.
However, Yom Ha’atzmaut provides a unique opportunity to respond. Every Israel bond investment made in celebration of Israel’s independence sends an unmistakable statement to BDS advocates: they will never win.
Izzy Tapoohi is president & CEO of Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds