Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Israel & the Jews (I): FAQs, Truths & Interesting Facts. Part-I : A Brief Overview on Israel

 FAQs, Truths & Interesting Facts 

In this series of blog-posts I intend bringing out the truths and interesting facts on Israel, Jews, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, that would also cover answers to many FAQs on the subject.

In several of the subsequent posts in this series, I also wish to compare and contrast India and Israel. There are many aspects that are common between India and Israel, and between Jews and Hindus—both historically, and in the current scenario. Of course, there are many things that are dissimilar and in sharp contrast.

How the idea of writing this series came to me? Depressed reading the heart-rending fate of the Yezidis and the Kurds, it suddenly occurred to me how visionary and wise Israel’s founding fathers were (compared to the critics of Israel [that include some prominent Jews], particularly the irresponsible leftist, left-liberal, socialist, communist and Marxist variety who have arrogantly claimed to be "on the RIGHT side of history" but whom the history has repeatedly proved WRONG) for had they not done what they did the fate of the Jews who would have still remained in the Arab lands would have been far worse—Holocaust-II? I then decided to do a blog-series on Israel and the Jews.



 A Brief Overview on Israel 



A few Notable Facts on Israel

Geographical Area

Israel is commendably a great nation (we shall appreciate why, as we get through this series of blog-posts), which is ironically very small—geographically! 


Israel’s total area is about 21,000 sq km, which is about 0.12% of the area of Russia (the largest country by area), 0.22% of USA, 5.88% of Germany and 6.72% of Poland.


Israel is just a tip, a very small island in the sea of 21 Arab nations, whose total area together is about 13.487 million sq km—Israel is just 0.16% of that! 

Israel’s area is 0.97% that of Saudi Arabia, 1.27% that of Iran, 2.09% that of Egypt, 4.79% that of Iraq, 6.79% that of Oman, 11.34% that of Syria, 23.5% that of Jordan and 25.12% that of UAE. 

Israel’s area-wise rank among nations is 153. It occupies a negligible 0.01% of the earth’s surface.


Israel’s population is approximately 8.3 million. Population-wise, it ranks 96 among nations. Its population-density is 388 per sq km—34th highest among nations. For comparison, the population of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) spread over just 1,200 sq km is over twice that of Israel—20.7 million, with overall population-density of 4,700 per sq km, and urban population-density of 20,700 per sq km!

When Israel was established in 1948 its population was mere 0.8 million. It has grown over 10 times during the last 66 years.

There are an estimated 14.2 million Jews the world over (less that what they were [17 million] before the World War II: Holocaust had reduced their numbers by 6 million). Out of them, 43% reside in Israel.

Religious Composition of the Population. Out of the total population of Israel, about 75% are Jews, 20.7% are Arabs, and  the rest 4.3% are non-Arab Christians, Baha'i, etc.

It speaks eloquently about Israel’s secularism that 25% of its population comprises non-Jews, of which the overwhelming majority is of Muslims. In sad contrast, Jews have been cleaned out of the Arab countries, where they had lived for centuries.

Countries by Majority Religion. There are 126 and 49 countries where the majority religion is Christianity and Islam respectively, while there are only 2 countries (India and Nepal) where the majority religion is Hinduism, and just 1 country where it is Judaism—Israel.

Out of the estimated world-population of about 7.1 billion, mere 0.22% are Jews, while the Christians are 33.4%,  Muslims 22.7%, Hindus 13.8%, Buddhists 6.8%, Sikhs 0.35%, ...


If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, 
then what do you need tomorrow for?
-  Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

Natural Resources & Agriculture. Despite being in the oil-rich middle-east, Israel, unfortunately, is without any oil resources. It is short on other natural resources too. 
In Israel, a land lacking in natural resources, we learned to appreciate our greatest national advantage: our minds. Through creativity and innovation, we transformed barren deserts into flourishing fields and pioneered new frontiers in science and technology.
— Shimon Peres
More than half the land of Israel is desert. Both its climate and the paucity of its water resources are unfavourable for farming. Just 20% of the land area is naturally arable. In other words, Israel’s geography is not naturally conducive for agriculture. And, the land was indeed very poor agriculturally for centuries, till the hard-working, innovative and intelligent Jews came on the scene. Today, agriculture is a highly developed industry in Israel.


Energy is the basis of everything. Every Jew, no matter how insignificant, is engaged in some decisive and immediate pursuit of a goal... It is the most perpetual people of the earth...
— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

GDP. Despite the handicaps briefly covered above, Israel’s per-capita GDP (nominal) is a respectable @USD 36,000. This is far more than the average per-capita GDP (nominal) of Arab countries, despite their oil-wealth. This is thanks to Israel’s high-tech industries and agriculture.

Jewish Contribution to the World

No race or region or religious group can match the contribution of the Jews in various diverse fields. Compared to their very modest population their contribution is so overwhelming that if they are indisputably number one, then the next one comes at 101, there being none in-between! 


...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

— Mark Twain

To illustrate, while the Jews form only 0.22% of the world population, between 1901, the year the Nobel Prizes were introduced, and 2013, they have won a whopping 193 Nobel Prizes out of a total of 876, a disproportionate 22%!

In the current century—since 2000—the Jews have been awarded 28% of all Nobel Prizes and 32% of those in the scientific research fields of Chemistry, Economics, Physics and Medicine. The greatest physicist so far—Albert Einstein—was a Jew. So were great physicists like Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, Max Born, Richard Feynman. 

Andrew Grove
You find major contribution of the Jews in all fields including high-tech and information technology. Andrew Grove, founder of Intel, and John von Neumann were Jews.  Neumann was a mathematician, physicist, inventor and polymath, who made major contributions to mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and fluid dynamics), economics (game theory), computing (von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing) and statistics.

Lawrence Ellison
Sergey Brin
Larry Page
Mark Zuckerberg
Lawrence Ellison, founder of Oracle, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Michael Dell of Dell are all Jews. 

Besides the fields of sciences, technology, medicine and literature in which the Jews have contributed in a major way, they have dominated the most vital segments that have made the modern world what it is—Banking, Finance and Economics. 
Karl Marx
Milton Friedman

Paul Samuelson

Famous Jewish economists include Karl Marx, David Ricardo, Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Samuelson, Simon Kuznets, Milton Friedman, Merton Miller, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. 39% of the recipients of Nobel Prize in Economics have been Jews. Well-known Jewish bankers include Marcus Goldman and Samuel Sachs of Goldman Sachs, George Soros, and Rothschild family. Many Jews have headed the US Federal Reserve including Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernake.

Steven Spielberg

The Jews have made significant contributions towards cinema, TV and media: 20th Century Fox, CBS, Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks, Fox Film Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, NBC, Paramount Pictures, Time Warner, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen and so on. 


Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.
— Winston S. Churchill

Some of the other Jewish notables are Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Arthur Koestler, Boris Pasternak, Saul Bellow, Jacob Bronowski, Edmund Landau, Hermann Minkowski, Bernhard Neumann, Jonas Salk (Polio vaccine), Levi Strauss (of Levi's Jeans [invented in 1873] fame), …

Even in the “other-worldly” matters, the Jews dominate. Foundation of both the major religions in the world—Christianity and Islam—is Judaism. 

2000-1825 BCE
1393-1273 BCE

Jesus Christ
7-2 BCE to 26-36 CE

And, of course, Abraham and Moses (both common to the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and Jesus Christ were Jews.

Christianity’s sacred text includes the Jewish Bible, besides the New Testament. The Children of Israel is an important religious concept in Islam, and Islam incorporates Jewish history. Moses, the most important prophet of Judaism, is also considered a prophet and messenger in Islam. There are numerous references to the Israelites in the Quran.

It’s terribly unfortunate that despite the above both Christians and Muslims had been ungrateful enough to victimise the very people they drew inspiration from, and from whom they borrowed so much! It is hard to understand why these latter two Abrahamic religions (Christianity and Islam) should have been such unreasonably obstinate believers in only they alone being right; being aggressive proselytizers; being so intolerant, arrogant and full of themselves, permitting no alternate routes to God, and be so full of hate and ill-will towards those believing in other religions, including the one they borrowed liberally from, namely Judaism. 

People with such talent as Jews should have been welcomed with open arms by all countries. In fact, there should have been a competition to get them to your country. Instead, the barbarians (Hitler and his henchmen: the onlookers were guilty too) annihilated six million (over one-third of the world-population of Jews then) Jews in the Holocaust: apart from its sheer inhumanity, it deprived the world of so much talent and so many potential Nobel laureates.

And, why shouldn't Jews have a land and a country of their own? As I have remarked elsewhere, while Israel where it is richly deserved to be there, there should have been Israel-II in Europe: a well-earned reward for their unmatched contribution to making the West what it is today, but also a compensation for all the suffering heaped upon them by the Europeans. 

I for one feel immensely happy and proud as an Indian and a Hindu that Jews never suffered in India. 

Israel, Jews & the World :
Facts that Baffle you

Resenting the little land that Israel has.

It baffles you that even such little land (please see comparisons and statistics above) miserly conceded to Israel is resented.

Israel’s geographical area (21,000 sq km) is just 0.16% the area of 21 Arab nations (13.487 million sq km), and forms a negligible 0.01% of the area of the earth’s surface. 

Indeed, Israel lacks the geographical depth to assuredly secure itself. On top of it, the two-state solution(?) would further compromise its security, while leaving the new nation that might come up as equally, rather more, vulnerable!

77% of Palestine with Arab Muslims already!

Following its defeat in the World War–I, the Ottoman Empire was broken up into three parts which were administered as the “British Mandate for Palestine”, the “British Mandate for Mesopotamia (Iraq)” and the “French Mandate for Syria”.

Out of the area controlled under the “British Mandate for Palestine”, 77% of the area to the east of Jordan river was hived off as Transjordan (since renamed Jordan) in 1922 for the Arab Muslims. The remaining 23% of the area is what forms Israel, the West bank, etc.  Unfortunately, even this unjustly miser allocation of land to Israel is resented!

Just one nation for the Jews!

There are 126 countries where the majority religion is Christianity and 49 countries where the majority religion is Islam. Can’t Christians and Muslims concede just one small country for the religion to which they owe their origin, and from which they have borrowed so liberally?

Reparations from All Christian &
Muslim Nations.

Germany has paid substantial compensation to the Jews, but Nazi Germany was not the only country that harassed and humiliated Jews and subjected them to terrible miseries—almost all the Christian and Muslim countries are guilty of doing so through the centuries. As a very small token of compensation for the inhuman crimes that they have committed against the Jews through the centuries, is it not their obligation to let Israel and the Jews the world over now live in peace and security?

Why the nation of the Jews
in the Middle-east only?

There are some who argue that since the Jews were most harassed in Europe and the holocaust was caused by Germany, why shouldn’t “Israel” have been created in Europe rather than in the middle-east? Well, the Jews have been at the receiving end of the Muslims too for centuries. Besides, the area of Israel and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Jerusalem is truly the biblical area of the Jews where all their holy places exist and where they have lived for centuries—only many were driven out by the Christians and the Muslims.


Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.
— Charles Krauthammer

So, locating Israel where it is currently located was fully justified. And, it was not as if the land that was made Israel was with that mythical nation “Palestine”. The land was with the British since the First World War, and earlier it was under the Ottoman Empire—there was no nation called Palestine.

But, considering what the Europeans did to the Jews through the centuries, there should have been a second Israel carved out for them in Europe! 

Israel’s Critics, including Jewish Critics.

Apart from the Muslim opponents; Israel’s critics are, by and large (not all), either anti-Semitic or “Left-Liberals” or communists or plain ignorant. Among the self-defined basic criteria to qualify as a “Left-Liberal” or a Marxist or a communist or a socialist is that you can’t be one unless you are pro-Muslim in your pronouncements, quite independent of the issues in question.

That a number of Jews themselves support the Palestinian position is often cited as evidence of its correctness. But, that’s not surprising or unusual in a free society. Many “Left-Liberals” and communists in India directly or indirectly support the Islamic terrorists on Kashmir, dreaded Maoists in Red-areas, and they used to even support the Khalistanis: does that justify the stand of the terrorists and their acts? It is only among the Muslims—whether in Muslim-majority countries or even in a free, democratic country—that the voice of dissent is rare. Even if Muslims honestly hold a different opinion they are scared to express it. However, the Jews, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and others freely engage is panning their own country or their own co-religionists.

Shockingly there are and have been prominent Jews who have been critical of Israel and who have not been enthusiastic about the creation of Israel itself. For example, Albert Einstein had said in 1938: "I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state” However, the Holocaust had not happened by then; and Einstein might have been blissfully unaware of the views of people like Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. 

Erich Fromm opined: “The claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim.” Remarked Noam Chomsky: “People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.” Of course, considering that history itself has repeatedly proved wrong socialists, Marxists and communists who arrogantly claimed to be on the “right side of history”, one can discount both Erich Fromm and Noam Chomsky in this respect. 

However, in an excellent, powerful, rich, sweeping yet in-depth, and riveting and revealing book “Israel is Real” by Rich Cohen when one reads at the end of its prologue “…By making the faith physical, by locating it in a particular place at a particular time, Zionists have made Jews vulnerable in a way that they have not been since the fall of the Second Temple. The fact that Judaism survived that calamity was a miracle, but would it survive again? In this way, modern Israel, meant to protect Jews, may have put them in greater danger than they have known in two thousand years” one, especially a non-Jew, feels both immensely sad and terribly depressed and can’t help empathetically feeling it is the Jewish suffering and insecurity of centuries that is giving vent to its anxiety.

High time the doubting Jews realised that the alternative to Israel was the fate of Jews like that of Kurds and Yezidis. Had there been no Israel and had hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands not found refuge in Israel and had instead remained in Arab lands, their fate would have been like that of the Kurds and Yezidis—Holocaust-II.

Besides, just because there are blood-thirsty bullies (like Hamas and other such Palestinian terrorist groups) around (there are many saner Arab voices too) who only seek eternal violence and conflict does it mean one should just throw up one’s hands and give up! That would only encourage the bullies. They are already planning to extend world-wide. They won’t stop just with you.

Although this can’t be an argument for Israel, still, viewed from a purely humanitarian, non-political angle, is it not desirable that more and more people come under the umbrella of democratic and secular governments like that of Israel who follow the rule of law and provide justice and prosperity to all irrespective of race or religion. Why is it that the Arab Muslims living in Israel don’t wish to migrate out of it? What is there to gain from coming under those bullies (like Hamas)? Assured slavery for half the population (women); and wretched life for the rest! 

In Israel, free men and women are every day demonstrating the power of courage and faith. Back in 1948 when Israel was founded, pundits claimed the new country could never survive. Today, no one questions that. Israel is a land of stability and democracy in a region of tyranny and unrest.
— Ronald Reagan, the US President

Subsequent blog-posts in this series would deal with the “History of Israel since the ancient times”, “Arab-Israeli Conflict”, “Current Status”, “India & Israel”,  "Jews and Hindus" and many other aspects.

* * * * *
Rajnikant Puranik
October 21, 2014
91-22-2854 2170, 91-98205 35232


  1. Puranik, this is well researched and your facts are amazing. I am sure that this will become seminal in times to come. Congrats!


  2. Hi Puranik, Appreciate the effort put in to write this article....Looking forward to the follow up posts on this topic.



  3. Mr. Puranik, it's a pleasure to read your posts on India, past and present. They are eminently readable because your writing is incisive and thought-provoking, even when I don't agree with many of your conclusions.
    This post on Israel, however, sounds irrational in its justification of the colonisation of Palestine.You don't seem to have an iota of consideration for native Arab Palestinians, most whom now eke out a living as a de-nationed people. The history of Jewish suffering is a permanent blot on humanity's conscience, no less than the persecution of Palestinian Arabs. You minimise the latter, surprisingly so. To be critical of Israeli domestic policies hardly comes under the category of antisemitism. Suffering is suffering, no matter what the suffering individual's religious affiliation is.