The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 (The Israel Bible™)
To all lovers of Zion, Israel is a remarkable country, with many friends to be sure, but also a cluster of enemies who view it as the embodiment of all things evil. So, to be able to see Israel’s record-breaking year in black and white statistics is a comfort.
It has been expected since early December, but Israel officially welcomed its four millionth tourist over the weekend – marking an unprecedented number of tourists who came to Israel in 2018.
According to statistics published in The Jerusalem Post, “Jerusalem leads the nation as the most sought after tourist destination, 40% of tourists coming in are landing on return visits and the majority of them are Christians [61%] followed by Jewish tourists [22%].” This represents an 11-percent increase over the 2017 tourism figure. Israel’s eternal capital has also been defined as the top global tourist destination, according to Euromonitor.
In yet another blow to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to encourage companies and individuals from doing business or visiting Israel and includes pressuring performing artists and sports teams to boycott the country, 2018 also witnessed a record-breaking year in terms of exports. The 2018 figure was $110 billion, which represented an 8-percent increase over the 2017 total. Earlier in the year, S&P raised Israel’s credit rating to -AA, the highest the country has ever had. According to Ynet, “the raised rating is a very significant achievement for the Israeli economy and indicates confidence in the ability of the economy to grow and the government’s ability to maintain a responsible fiscal policy.”
Also in the economic sphere, Israel enjoyed a bumper year in mergers and acquisitions. Deals totaling $21.6 billion represented a 77-percent increase over the 2017 figure. This massive increase, did not even include exceptional deals of in excess of $15 billion, therefore excluding the huge acquisitions of Mobileye by Intel and of Actavis by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
We cannot know what 2019 has in store for Israel, but 2018 has been remarkable for such a small country – both in population size and geographical area – to make such sustained gains in a wide array of fields.