Post #2 – Digging Deeper

لغة | שפה | Language

Language shapes how people think and view the world around them. Therefore, to understand how Israel functions within itself and how it relates to other countries, it’s important to know what and how they speak.

Ancient Hebrew was a language that was  primarily used for Jewish prayer and worship, it wasn’t for daily, conversational use. However, in the 19th and 20th century, Eliezer ben Yehuda revived the once “dead” language. Now, it’s one of Israel’s official languages along with Arabic. Besides the official ones, there are 35 different languages and dialects spoken in Israel. The most common ones are Russian, due to a large immigration population, and English. Israeli students learn English and the national languages in school and many street signs in the region are also written in English. English is also the language most commonly used in world affairs, so it benefits Israeli’s to know how to speak it since they’re a member of multiple international organizations.

Hebrew_Arabic_English_road_signs.jpg
Road signs in Israel feature English alongside its two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic.

منظمات دولية |ארגונים בינלאומיים | International Organizations

Once Israel was recognized as its own state on May 14th, 1948 it immediately became involved in world affairs. They joined their first organization in early 1949: the International Wheat Council, now the International Grains Council. Shortly after, on May 11th, 1949, the UN voted Israel in as a member with a 37 Yes, 12 No, and 9 abstention vote.

Through the UN, Israel is part of organizations such as Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Within UNESCO, Israel is a member of five more organizations. To list all the other groups the country is a member of would be exhaustive, but Israel’s general focus is on education and science.

The next major group Israel joined was the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on July 12th, 1954. The IMF gives loans to countries and aims to improve global economy by monitoring exchange rates. Countries in the IMF have access to financial information, assistance with banking and increased opportunities for trade.

Israel became a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on July 5th, 1962. When GATT was succeeded by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which had the same goals of promoting international trade and reducing tariffs and quotas, Israel became a member as well.

Despite being a member of these organizations, Israel still has complicated relations with other members. In the UN,  31 of the 192 members do not recognize Israel as a country. Within the Arab League, 18 of the 22 countries do not. Even the states that do recognize Israel have reprimanded the country for settlement building. Israel is also an associated state of the European Union which has also made a statement about the settlements mentioned in my previous post.

Foreign_relations_of_Israel_Map_July_2011.PNG
A map showing the current status of Israel’s foreign relations.

 | معامل جيني | מדד ג’יני | Gini Coefficient

The Gini Coefficient is a statistical model that shows how equally or unequally distributed the wealth or income of a country is. According to the CIA, Israel is ranked 50th out of 145 countries when it comes to wealth distribution. That might sound like a good thing, but the higher a country on the list, the more unequal it is; Israel is in the top third.

The country’s Gini coefficient used to be lower. In 1986, Israel’s score was 36.5 and in just 27 years, it raised 6.3 points to 42.8: almost 0.25 points a year (a relatively high number when the lowest and highest Gini score are only separated by 39.5 points).

This score does not automatically mean Israel is worse off than the countries below it on the list, it just indicates a larger gap in wealth distribution. It is also important to keep in mind that the math behind the Gini coefficient has limitations. Regardless, the Gini numbers gives us a better look into a countries economic status when compared to its relationships with other countries.  

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One thought on “Post #2 – Digging Deeper

  1. Pingback: Post #3 – Nationalism and Inequality – Middle East

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