As the First Zionist Congress ended on September 3, 1897,
Theodore Herzl wrote in his diary,
“At Basel I founded the Jewish State.
If I said this out loud today,
I would be greeted by universal laughter.
In five years, perhaps,
and certainly in 50 years,
everyone will perceive it.”
Exactly 50 years later, on September 3, 1947,
the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine,
Herzl’s vision was on its way to reality
with the UN vote on November 29, 1947,
and on May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed.
In 70 years, in spite of wars, terrorist attacks, missiles and boycotts,
things Herzl could never have dreamed have happened.
On the tiny, arid, barren hill that Herzl saw
today sits the Knesset building.
Across the road,
is the Israel Museum,
with its Shrine of the Book
housing the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls,
and a host of sculptures on the grounds outside.
For the visit of UN Sec-Gen Antonio Guterres
a special presentation was held at the museum
near the Archaeological Wing,
featuring five Israeli Start-Ups.
1. HomeBioGas turns organic waste into
clean and usable cooking gas and liquid fertilizer.
2. Sight not only can test blood for malaria,
but its technology enables doctors
to do a full blood workup in the office.
3. Those little plastic pieces in the aquarium,
from Aqwise make waste water clean efficiently.
4. ‘Standing around the water cooler’
not at the office, but at this meeting with
the Secretary-General and the Israeli Prime Minister,
took on a whole new dimension,
with Watergen, which makes water from nothing,
converting humidity in the air to drinking water.
L’chaim, to life.
Remote locations in India and Africa, Gaza,
and drought-stricken regions around the world
could benefit from these Israeli technologies.
5. Innovation Africa has brought solar
and agricultural technologies to remote African villages.
“Our sages said, ‘From Zion will emerge Torah,’”
Netanyahu noted, adding,
“Well, from Zion emerges Torah, software, progress;
I hope with your help. So welcome, Mr. Secretary General.”
Problems in Israel, for sure.
But so much good is happening.
Herzl could never have imagined how far
and what has developed from his vision over 120 years.