Israel Government and Economy
The flag of the State of Israel consists of two blue stripes on a white field, with the Star of David between them. The flag was designed for the Zionist movement in 1891. The flag’s cloth resembles a “tales” – a white Jewish prayer scarf with blue stripes. The hexagon in the center is Magen David, known as the “Shield of David”, or “Star of David”. This sign became a Jewish symbol as early as the 17th century. and was adopted by the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
The anthem of the State of Israel is HaTikva (Hope). The words were written by the poet Naftali Herz Imber, the music is a Romanian folk song, which was also used by the Czech composer Bendrich Smetana in his cycle “My Homeland”. In 1933 HaTikvah was chosen as the anthem of the Zionist movement, and with the proclamation of the State of Israel it became the country’s national anthem. However, the Knesset recognized this song as the official anthem only in 2004. Approximate translation of the anthem into English:
Until the fire goes out in the heart
Our Jewish rebellious soul
We will go forward to the East,
Eyes fixed on Zion.
Do not forget our hope,
What we have been carrying in ourselves for two thousand years.
We will be a free people again
In our homeland – in the land of Zion, Jerusalem”
The symbol of the State of Israel is the menorah (seven candles) with olive branches on the sides and the word “Israel” at the base. The origin of the menorah as a symbol of Israel is in the bas-relief on the arch of Titus in Rome, which depicts the triumphal procession of the Roman commander Titus, who suppressed the Jewish uprising against Roman rule (it is known in history as the Jewish Wars) and destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. As for the branches olives, they are mentioned in the sermon of the prophet Zechariah. The temple menorah symbolizes not only the great past of the people of Israel, but also their defeat in the war and the beginning of exile. Thus, the menorah not only links the new State of Israel with its glorious past, but also indirectly symbolizes the end of the dispersion period.
Form of government in Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary democracy headed by a president whose role is rather symbolic and representative. In fact, the country is governed by the legislature (knesset), the executive body (government), and the judiciary.
Legislative power in Israel is represented by the Knesset (Parliament), consisting of 120 parliamentarians, elected every four years in general elections. The Knesset enacts laws, makes political decisions, elects the president and government, and supervises the activities of the latter.
The role of the executive power in Israel is played by the government. It is responsible for the implementation of the laws passed by the Knesset and for the proper administration of the state. The Prime Minister is a member of the Knesset who has been entrusted by the President with the role of forming the government and who has formed a government with the confidence of the Knesset. Since the founding of the State of Israel, no party has managed to win an absolute majority in the Knesset. As a consequence, all governments in Israel have been and remain coalition governments.
The judiciary in Israel is responsible for maintaining the rule of law in the country. The Supreme Court is at the head of the legal system. It considers appeals against decisions of lower courts and holds meetings of the High Court of Justice, during which citizens’ complaints about the actions of state authorities are considered. In addition to the ordinary or civil system of courts, Israel has courts that have been given exclusive authority by law to decide certain matters. These include a labor court, a military court, and religious courts (Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze) that deal with marriages and divorces.
Economy of Israel
The Israeli economy is a success story. Despite the almost complete lack of natural resources in the country, despite the wars and the successive waves of immigration that are a heavy burden on the economy, Israel is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. The most significant reasons for Israel’s economic prosperity are foreign aid, which has reached $10 billion so far, and a skilled workforce.
Since the formation of the State, Israeli exports have grown from $30 million to $30 billion a year. During this time, the Israeli economy has undergone many changes. At first, Israel mainly imported citrus fruits, as well as processed diamonds and some industrial products. Today, the bulk of exports are high-tech products in a wide variety of areas, such as electronics, software, computers, optics, communications and medical equipment.
With the passage of time, the ideology according to which the Israeli economy is managed has also changed. At first, the economy was predominantly centralized, characterized by active state intervention in economic activity. Due to the political changes that took place in Israel in 1977, the economic ideology in Israel changed, and since the 1980s, Israeli governments have followed liberal economic policies.
Israel’s GNP is about $154 billion (ranking it 51st in the world), while its GNP per capita is $22,944 (ranking 44th in the world). Israel exports goods worth about $42 billion a year. The annual growth is 5%, inflation is about 2% per year, unemployment is 8.9%. The dominant sector of the Israeli economy is high technology, which became the driving force behind the country’s economic growth in the 1990s. Other flourishing areas of the economy include pharmaceuticals, chemicals, tourism, military and diamond processing.