Monday, May 21 , 2018, 11:22 pm | Fair 58º


Harris Sherline: Defying the Odds, Israel Has Made Its Mark on the World

Consider its contributions in business, the environment, science and technology

President Barack Obama’s ill-considered statement last May that the state of Israel should return to its 1967 borders reveals his abysmal lack of knowledge about this tiny nation, which has perhaps had a greater impact on the world in general than almost any other society, particularly those of the Arab states.

The stated goal of Hamas is to wipe Israel off the map and drive all the Jews into the sea. But what would happen if Israel were destroyed and all the Jews killed?

A recent article by Rabbi Ephraim Shore, “Defying the Odds, Amazing Facts About Israel,” provides some important information about this issue.

Israel is the 100th smallest country and has about 1/1000th of the world’s population. It is only 62 years old, 7 million people strong (less than Virginia) and smaller in size than New Jersey, surrounded by enemies, under constant threat and possessing almost no natural resources — and yet ...

Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on Earth. It has absorbed 350 percent of its population in 60 years.

Israel is the only country in history to have revived an unspoken language.

Since the founding of the state, Israel has won more Nobel Prizes per capita than any other country other than Switzerland. It has more laureates in real numbers than China, Mexico and Spain. Counting from the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, three countries (East Timor, Iceland and St. Lucia) have won one or two prizes each, but because their populations are between 170,000 and 1 million, they technically have more awards per capita. Israel has received nine.

Israel has the eighth-longest life expectancy (80.7 years), longer than the United Kingdom, United States and Germany.

Israeli films were nominated three years in a row for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.


Israel is the only country that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees — even more remarkable in an area that’s mainly desert. The U.N. Forum on Forests in 2009, noted that during the past 50 years, Israel planted more than 260 million trees, covering more than 1,000 square kilometers. The Sustainable World Capital Report also noted in 2009 that Israel is desalinating 75 percent of its waste water, operating the world’s largest desalinization plant.

More than 90 percent of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, the highest percentage in the world.

Israel will be the first country to host a national electric car network.

Israel is ranked in the top five Cleantech countries of the world.

Israeli companies are producing the largest solar energy production facility in the world.

Science & Technology

Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, 63 percent more than the United States. It also has the most physicians and engineers per capita.

Israel’s scientific research institutions are ranked third in the world.

Israel is ranked second in space sciences.

Israel produces the third most scientific papers per capita, and the most in stem cell science.

More Israeli patents are registered in the United States than from Russia, India and China combined (combined population 2.5 billion). It leads the world in patents for medical equipment.

Israeli companies invented the drip irrigation system, discovered the world’s most used drug for multiple sclerosis, designed the Pentium NMX Chip technology and the Pentium 4 and Centrium microprocessors, created Instant Messenger (ICQ), and Israeli cows produce more milk per cow than any other in the world!


Israel has the third-highest rate of entrepreneurship among women in the world. Kansas City-based Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management observed that for every 100 Israeli men who start new businesses, 64 Israeli women also begin a new economic enterprise. This compares with 60 in the United States and 51 in Canada (October 2000).

Israel has attracted the most venture capital investment per capita in the world — 30 times more than Europe.

Israel has more NASDAQ-listed companies than any country besides the United States — more than all of Europe, India, China and Japan combined.

In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute numbers, Israel has more startups than any country other than the United States.

Defying the Odds

Israel is the only country whose indigenous population returned to its native land after 2,000 years of forced exile.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog,

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