There is a modern myth that says the land of Israel was stolen from the Arabs but nothing is further from the truth. Around 1025 BC a shepherd boy fought a Philistine giant by the name of Goliath. The least likely candidate to be Israel’s second king, David ascended to the throne. By 1003 BC, David captured Jebus, modern day Jerusalem. The fortress of Zion became “The City of David”.
Modern day Jews still recognize Jerusalem as their capital – both spiritually as well as politically. It has been more than 3,000 years since the Jewish king captured Jerusalem. Yet, not until 1967 did Jerusalem once again become the capital of the Jewish state when Israel recaptured it from Jordan in the Six-Day War.
The Arab word “filastin” is a derivation of the Latin name for Philistine which is thought to be the ancestors of modern day Palestinians. Had it not been for foreign invaders, Israel’s capital would have been in existence for three millennia. Perhaps even more striking for people of Jewish and Christian faith, Jerusalem is the place where the original temple was built – by David’s son, Solomon. A small portion of this remains to this day where the Western Wall is the site of Jewish and Christian prayers.
Today, about 8 million people live in a country the size of New Jersey. The Jewish population makes up 6,335,000 (74.9%); 1,757,000 (20.7%) are Arabs; and, those identified as “others” (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, etc) make up 4.4% of the population (370,000 people). One in four Jews in Israel were born in another country
With more than 14 million Jewish people in the world, nearly half (43%) reside in Israel. Today, 75-percent of the Israeli population is native born, often called sabras.
The geography of Israel is as diverse as its people. From the arid eastern fringes along the Negev and Dead Sea (lowest spot on earth) to the Jerusalem which is 2500 feet. The coast plains are fertile and green with a coast line along the Mediterranean that stretches 170 miles from the Lebanese border on the north. The northern part of the country (Upper Galilee) is hilly and rises to more than 9,000 feet on the southern edges of Mt. Hermon. The town of Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee is below seas level but directly north the elevation rises until it reaches the Golan Heights and into Metulla, a moshav (farming cooperative) overlooking the Valley of the Springs across the border in Lebanon.
In health care and health care services Israel far exceeds any country in the region and rivals most western countries. The life expectancy at birth, life expectancy for males, quality of health care system, number of physicians, and fertility rates are in the top echelon. Beyond health care Israel also exceeds in technology – military and otherwise. No other country in the world can truly boast that the land they have was given to them by God. But since 1948 Israel has made the best use of the land, encouraged Jews in other lands to immigrant, and has fought valiantly to maintain not only their land, but their very existence as well.