Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Happy anniversary, Israel! 70 years of Israeli achievement


April 20, 2018

(ISRAEL21c)-Take a journey through the last 70 years to discover how Israel has become one of the most creative and innovative countries in the world.

Israel was founded on May 14, 1948.

In the Hebrew calendar, it was 5 Iyar, 5708 (which is on April 20 this year).

• Israel is founded a few hours before the British Mandate is due to expire. Eleven minutes later, the United States becomes the first country to recognize the Jewish state when it grants Israel de facto recognition. On May 15, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria invade Israel. The War of Independence lasts 13 months.

• The Supreme Court of Israel is inaugurated, the Israeli lira replaces the Palestinian pound, the Israeli flag becomes the state's official flag.

• El Al, Israel's new national airline, operates its maiden flight, bringing Israel's first president, Prof. Haim Weizmann, home from a diplomatic visit to Geneva.

• The new country's population numbers 806,000.

Operation Magic Carpet begins in 1949

Some 49,000 endangered Yemenite Jews, and some from countries including Saudi Arabia, are airlifted to Israel in a secret operation involving 380 flights by British and American transport planes taking off from Aden.

The Law of Return is formally enacted-1950

Israel's Law of Return, approved by the Knesset on July 5, entitles anyone of Jewish matrilineal descent, or a Jewish convert, to immigrate to Israel and obtain full citizenship.

The law was later amended to state that the same rights are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who had been Jewish and voluntarily changed his or her religion.

Conquering the desert-1953

• The Israel Prize, the state's highest cultural honor, is awarded for the first time. The nine recipients represent the fields of Jewish studies, literature, education, social science, medical science, fine arts, exact sciences and life sciences.

• The Conquest of the Desert world's fair opens in Jerusalem, focusing on the themes of reclamation and population of desert area. Some 600,000 people visit the fair.

Israel pledges to help the developing world-1957

MASHAV,  Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, is founded by Golda Meir after a visit to the newly independent African states, to share Israeli expertise with developing nations. Since its establishment within the Foreign Ministry, MASHAV has trained close to 270,000 course participants from approximately 132 countries in Israel and abroad and has developed dozens of demonstration projects. MASHAV provides technical and emergency assistance across the globe.

National telephone dialing is introduced linking Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa.

El Al flies nonstop from New York-1961

El Al Israel Airlines, established in 1948, begins flying nonstop between Tel Aviv and New York, setting a world record for the longest nonstop flight.

Water to the desert-1964

• The National Water Carrier is completed, bringing water from Israel's north to the parched south. The development is a major step forward in enabling Israel to turn the Negev Desert into the center of crop production in Israel.

• Osem introduces Bamba, Israel's favorite peanut snack. In 2015, A British study proved what Israeli parents had long suspected, that this addictive treat, given to children in Israel from a young age, could help prevent peanut allergies.

• Batsheva Dance company is founded by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild.  It has become Israel's premiere dance troupe.

• Motorola becomes the first US corporation to set up an R&D unit in Israel. The center initially develops wireless products and later moves into chip production.

Three million and counting-1967

The three millionth citizen arrives in Israel on Jan. 12. Absorption Minister Nathan Peled presents certificates to a 62-year-old Russian Jew, his wife and daughter. The daughter's husband was not allowed to leave the USSR.

Introduction of the shekel-1980

The lira is replaced by the shekel (1 shekel = 10 lirot) as Israel's national currency. The word "shekel" derives from a biblical unit of weight of approximately one ounce (12 grams). The "new Israeli shekel" (NIS) introduced on Jan. 1, 1986, is still in use, available in coin and banknote forms.

Operation Moses brings Ethiopians to Israel-1984

7,000 Ethiopian Jews are flown to Israel from Sudan in a covert mission called Operation Moses to rescue them from famine and civil war. Over a seven-week period, 30 flights each bring around 200 Ethiopians to Israel. In 1991, Operation Solomon brings a further 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel over a period of 36 hours.

Russian Jews begin to emigrate to Israel en masse-1989

Start of mass immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Between 1989 and 2006, more than one million Russians emigrated to Israel, transforming the culture, high-tech industry, education system and politics of the country. Many of the well-educated new immigrants gave Israel's developing high-tech industry a valuable boost. Migrants from the former Soviet Union now make up 15 percent of the Israeli population, and one in four staff members at Israel's universities are native Russian speakers, with an even higher concentration in the sciences.

Peace with Jordan-1994

Israel and Jordan sign a peace treaty and subsequently open their borders, allowing tourists, business people and workers to travel freely between the two countries.

First desalination plant opens-1997

Israel opens its first reverse osmosis desalination plant, in Eilat. Since then, five more desalination plants have opened along Israel's Mediterranean shore-in Ashkelon, Palmachim, Hadera, Soreq and Ashdod-providing about 60 percent of domestic water needs. Though not without some environmental issues, these plants have helped relieve Israel's chronic water shortages.

• Jaap van Rijn files his second patent for a unique zero-discharge system for fish farming anywhere, using extremely limited amounts of water and without harming the environment, enabling farmers to raise fish even in the desert.

Tel Aviv celebrates its centennial-2009

A young Yemenite nurse reading to new immigrants at a camp in Rosh Ha'ayin.

Tel Aviv celebrates its 100th anniversary. In the last decade or so, Tel Aviv (which has both more vegans per capita and more dog owners per capita in the world) has won accolades from all over the world, being named third best city in the world by Lonely Planet, ultimate party city, best gay city, one of theworld's top action-packed cities, best beach party spot on the planet, best culinary destination, and even home to the most beautiful people in the world.

Israel ranks in top 10 most powerful, innovative nations-2018

• U.S. News and World Report ranks Israel the eighth most powerful nation in the world. Bloomberg News names the Jewish state the 10th most innovative worldwide, edging out the United States.

To read more of Israel's accomplishments in the last 70 year, visit http://www.israel21c.org/70-years-of-israeli-milestones-in-165-seconds.


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