Israel’s military prowess – operational and technological alike – is renowned; but the Jewish state, population 7.7 million, is no less impressive in other areas too:
For all Israel’s challenge in being accepted by the Palestinians, the neighborhood, Muslims, leftists, antisemites, conspiracy theorists, and assorted cranks, it has a dazzling record of success.
Birth rate: Israel has by far the highest demographic rate in the developed world. Its 2012 total fertility rate (TFR), or births per woman, is 2.67. It is followed by France, New Zealand, and the United States, coming in at 2.08, 2.07, and 2.06. Former demographic champions Ireland and Poland have fallen to 2.01 and 1.31, respectively. Outstandingly low rates include the Czech Republic (1.27), South Korea (1.23), and Taiwan (1.10). Singapore comes in last with an astonishing 0.78. (Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, October 19, 2012)
Army size: Israel’s total population today is between that of Istanbul and Tehran but that may change: “At constant fertility, Israel will have more young people by the end of this century than either Turkey or Iran. … Israel will be able to field the largest land army in the Middle East.” Turkey has a TFR of 2.13 and Iran’s is 1.87. (David P. Goldman, “Israel as Middle Eastern hegemon,” Asia Times, May 24, 2011)
The Jerusalem Report’s cover story on Israeli longevity.
Longevity: “Israeli men take the title of the world’s highest life expectancy. … [they] live on average to the age of 80.2, closely followed by Switzerland with 80. In all other countries in the Western world, including Japan, men die, on average, in their 70s.” (Shula Kopf, “Living Life to the Full,” The Jerusalem Report, January 30, 2012)
Energy: “One of [Israel's] largest deposits – 250 billion barrels of oil in Israel’s Shfela basin[ - is] comparable to Saudi Arabia’s entire reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil.” In addition to the sheer size of the deposits, Israeli engineers are pioneering technological innovations for its extraction. (Lawrence Solomon, “Israel’s new energy,” Financial Post, Jun 10, 2011) Walter Russell Mead takes this a step further, writing that “the Promised Land, from a natural resource point of view, could be … inch for inch the most valuable and energy rich country anywhere in the world.” (“Israel’s Emergence As Energy Superpower Making Waves,” The American Interest, July 2, 2012)
Creativity: “Israel, per capita, is the most creative and innovative country on the face of the earth.” (George Gilder, author of The Israel Test, interviewed in “Choosing the Chosen People,” National Review, July 30, 2009)
High technology: “Over the past two decades Israel has been transformed from a semisocialist backwater into a high-tech superpower. Adjust for population and Israel leads the world in the number of high-tech start-ups and the size of the venture-capital industry.” (“Beyond the start-up nation,” The Economist, December 29. 2010)
Classical music: “Israel has become a pocket superpower in the arts, most visibly in classical music. … The distinctly Israeli take on the European classical tradition has become the country’s most notable cultural export.” (David P. Goldman, “Pioneers: A mix of passion and tradition makes Israel a classical-musical superpower,” Tablet, July 21, 2010)
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Recycling: Israelis recycle 70 percent of their waste-water, making them far and away the world’s leaders; in Spain, the runner-up country, just 12 percent of waste-water is recycled. (“Horizons programme looks at new technology to combat water scarcity,” BBC, November 7, 2011) Plus, they recycled about 77 percent of all beverage containers in 2011, overtaking Europe (at 48 percent) and the United States (at 29 percent). (Sharon Udasin, “Israel passes US, Europe in bottle recycling,” The Jerusalem Post, March 15, 2012) Feb. 26, 2013 update: The latest numbers on water recycling according to Alexander Kushnir, head of Israel’s Water Authority: “Over 80% of … purified sewage goes back into agricultural use. The next best in the OECD is Spain with 17-18%.”
Education: Israel has the second most educated population in the world, following only Canada, according to an analysis by 24/7 Wall St. Japan, the United States, and New Zealand follow. (January 31, 2012)
Cyber security: Israel is the most cyber-secure country in the world, along with Denmark and Sweden, earning 4½ out of 5 stars in a report prepared with the support of McAfee, Inc. (Brigid Grauman, Cyber-security: The vexed question of global rules. An independent report on cyber-preparedness around the world, Security & Defence Agenda, February 1, 2012)