The Over-Promised Land: at the beach in Tel Aviv, December 2014.
BAZ RATNER / REUTERS

In 1996, Ehud Barak, who was then Israel’s foreign minister and would later serve as prime minister, charac­terized Israel as “a modern and prosperous villa in the middle of the jungle.” Twenty years later, as political turmoil and vio­lence engulf the Middle East, that harsh metaphor captures better than ever the way most Israelis see their country and its place in the region. Their standard of living has never been higher. Their country’s economy is robust, and Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit remains the envy of the world. In 2015, Israel ranked as the planet’s fifth-happiest country on

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

Subscribe