The land of Israel was not always the vibrant and advanced place that it has become today. It was a strip of neglected land that in 1867 Mark Twain described as a "desolate country whose soil is rich enough but given over solely to weeds".
Since that time, the land has witnessed it's people returning in growing numbers to gradually coax it from it's barren condition to become a fertile, fruitful and abundant place:
And the land that was desolate shall be tilled...And they will say this land has become like the garden of Eden".
The modern agriculture that has been developed in Israel is thanks to the Zionist* movement and the Jews making Aliyah (returning) to their homeland.
[*The Zionists were Jews and those in support of Jewish culture who sought the re-establishment of a homeland for the Jews. The word Zionism comes from the Hebrew word Zion which refers to Jerusalem. The movement began in the 19th century and it's founder, Theodor Herzl campaigned for the repatriation of the Jews that lived in many other nations as a minority group.]
The coastal region was swampy and infected by malaria. These Jewish pioneers bought this land legitimately, much of it at high prices from absent Turkish landlords or local Arabs who didn't want it and had declared it uninhabitable.
It had suffered severe deforestation and neglect. The Jews drained the swamps and over a number of years eradicated the malaria. Israel has been malaria free ever since. This meant that the Jews could start farming the land and make it productive.
They lived and worked in communities called Kibbutzim which means gathering or group in Hebrew. It is a voluntary, democratic community who live and work together. They jointly own and benefit from the resources.
The first Kibbutzim were established in 1909. They were organised by Zionists who came to the land at the beginning of the 20th century. The communities worked the land and made it productive. Traditionally, Kibbutzim were focused on agriculture but over time this has grown to include kibbutzim that work at industrial projects and some, the high-tech sciences.
The coastal plains, that once were malaria ridden swamps, stretch north from Tel Aviv and are now bursting with abundance. There are citrus groves, vineyards, wheat and grazing cattle. Israel exports much of its fruit and vegetables to Europe who rely on the produce they buy from Israel.
Israel is one of the world's main citrus producers and exports also include avocados, bananas, apples, cherries, plums, strawberries, dates and grapes. Fifty million flowers grown in Israel go to Europe for Valentine's Day each year.
In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit."
Over the years, the problems encountered have triggered innovations that the rest of the world now also benefits from. The development of successful Drip Irrigation was developed by Simcha Blass in Israel. The system of trickling water directly where it was required meant that the yield was boosted by 50% and the amount of water needed to achieve this dropped by 40%.
The rocky areas in the Galilee were cleared and made tillable. Terraces were created to contain the soil on the slopes and make it suitable to cultivate.
The southern plains and the Negev Desert with it's dry, hostile climate was originally unproductive. Following extensive research and looking back at historic evidence including the Bible, suitable trees were identified that would survive this climate and terrain.
Over 4 million trees have been planted including acacia, pine, cypresss, olive and eucalyptus.
The desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly".
The southern slopes of Mount Hebron and the edge of the Negev now has large areas of planted forests which are halting the desertification of the area northeast of Beersheba. The arid landscape has been transformed. The shade provided reduces evaporation and the trees trap carbon.
The area is part of a global network of sites used to measure exchanges of carbon dioxide and water vapour between ecosystems and the atmosphere. Israel is the only country in the world to enter the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress...the hand of the Lord has done this".
Developments throughout the 20th century that have been made in Israel have impacted the world. Their understanding of their environment has led to development of a drought resistant strain of potato. Methods of storing potatoes to prevent deterioration from water, heat and vermin have been developed and the idea and materials to do so have been exported to the benefit of other countries.
In the 1970's two Israeli scientists cultivated disease resistant cherry tomatoes by developing a slower ripening variety. This led to long shelf life varieties which has transformed global agricultural economics. Israel was an early pioneer of organic production years ahead of much of the western world.
On a kibbutz, research for a chemical free method of controlling bugs that attack crops was developed. They used other bugs to control the bugs! Other discoveries such a scheme for breeding bees specifically to pollinate and vermin control using barn owls, have all originated in Kibbutzim. Some of these projects have led to positive interaction with Israel's neighbours. The owl method of controlling vermin was extended to help Jordanian farmers.
The land of Israel has emerged in colour and abundance from the barrenness of neglect. The State of Israel that was recognised in 1948 has grown and developed at a pace which is astonishing.
God has not finished with Israel:
I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you declares the Lord and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you in to exile."