- Unemployment is at record lows. At a time of global recession, the Israeli economy is growing steadily.
- Israeli Jewish women have the highest fertility rate in the Western world with an average of three children per woman. Education levels have risen dramatically across the board over the past decade with dozens of private colleges opening their doors to more and more sectors of the population.
- Israel’s diverse Jewish population is becoming more integrated. Sephardic and Ashkenazi intermarriage has long been a norm. Secular Jews are becoming more religious. A new educational trend that received significant media attention in recent months involves secular parents who send their children to national religious schools to ensure that they receive strong educational grounding in Judaism.
- And as secular Jews become more religious, both the national religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors are becoming increasingly integrated in nonreligious neighborhoods and institutions. Ultra-Orthodox conscription rates have increased seven-fold in the past four years. In 2010, 50 percent of ultra-Orthodox male high-school graduates were conscripted.
- The IDF assesses that by 2015, the rate of conscription will rise to 65%. While this is still below the general conscription rate of 75% among male 18-year-olds, the rapid rise in ultra- Orthodox military service is a revolutionary development for the sector.
- Modern Orthodox women are taking on expanded roles in religious councils, synagogues, religious courts and other bodies. Soldiers from the national religious sector remain overrepresented in all IDF combat units and in the officer corps.
- Israel’s growing social cohesion and prosperity is all the more notable as we witness neighboring states aflame with rebellion and revolution, extremist Islamist forces voted to power from Morocco to Egypt and economic forecasts promising mass privation.
- And in the Age of Obama, with cleavages between liberals and conservatives growing ever wider in America, and with the future of the European Union hanging in the balance as the euro zone teeters on the edge of an abyss, the fact that Israeli society is becoming increasingly fortified is simply extraordinary.For the benefit of society as a whole, we must hope that the basic health and cohesion of Israeli society that has grown so miraculously over the past decade will prevail in the current contest. We have far more that unites us than separates us. If we focus on this, there is no force either within or without our society that can defeat us. But if we give in to the forces of contention and chaos, we risk endangering everything we hold dear.