I saw a graph today that charts Israel’s popularity (or rather lack there of) in the eyes of the rest of the world. Here it is-So I ask myself “How could this be”? Israel is a miracle. A country in one of the most lousy neighborhoods in the world, under relentless pressure who have managed to create the freest, most prosperous and yes, most moral countries the world has. One would think this would engender undying praise not to mention their technological, agricultural, military, environmental and business achievements. The entire world benefits, in some way or another, from them every day. There is a fantastic website that documents these global contributions that I highly recommend you check out http://www.israel21c.org/.
So what is it? As it happens, this conversation has come up several times this week in my Executive Learning Sessions. In a nutshell it’s jealousy- seething, froth-mouthed jealousy. Imagine your poor and down trodden neighbor moving into a cruddy plot of land and inexplicably-in the blink of an eye-building a palace next door to you. Would you be happy for him? Or would it start to irk you? (“Who does this guy think he is”). If he started showing others how to do it and became an important leader in the community would you respect it or view it as arrogant and “imperial”.
This is the crux of the argument formulated by George Gilder (non Jew) in his brilliant book “The Israel Test“. The world assumes that the Jews must have arrived at their achievements on the backs of their “oppressed” neighbors-taking their resources and keeping them down. It doesn’t occur to them that it was rather a function of a sustained powerful drive, off the charts innovation and raw intelligence…that would be too vexing a notion.
So like the kid who gets beat up for being a straight A student, we are forced to endure the animus of the nations. But it’s a great opportunity. They are paying attention, and sometimes they get it. The trick is to stay strong, to educate ourselves and others and to communicate to our Israeli brothers and sisters that we are with them…no matter what.