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Sixty-Six Years Young!
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Sixty-Six Years Young!

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Children speak about how old they are and keep pushing to be older. Adults, on the other hand, desire to be younger. In national terms, the United States is a very young country at 225 years of age compared to Great Britain for example. Israel at 66 is so much younger as a modern state, yet the Jewish people’s presence in the Holy Land represents one of if not the oldest recognizable people that today can trace their ancestry back several millennia.

In trying to objectively consider the State of Israel on the occasion of its celebration of 66 years of existence, it is certainly—despite its many faults and warts—a remarkable country. With a total population today in excess of 8 million people from about 1 million in 1948, Israel is an economic, social, and cultural powerhouse.  Few nations, especially from among those that came into being in the post-World War II period, can boast the same level of achievement as can Israel.

For the Jewish people, however, history is replete with challenges to the survival of Judaism both as a people and as a religion. Jewish continuity, therefore, is one of the most remarkable events in history. Yet, with approximately 13.4 million Jews in the world today or less than .02% of the world’s population, Jewish survival remains greatly challenged; but Israel provides the true beacon for the future for Jews.

So in considering the plight of the modern state of Israel, one needs to maintain some perspective. Problems and conflicts abound but so do successes and achievements. It is surrounded by enemies and has few friends in the world. For Israel, the road ahead undoubtedly will be rocky and treacherous as has been the history of the Jewish people, but what should one expect from a country that is merely 66 years young!

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