Today, as Israel celebrates its 60th birthday as a nation, it once again finds itself under the international microscope.
What should be a day of jubilation has instead been marred by charges of bribery against Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for which he may be indicted. And amidst these swirling rumours come the increasingly harsh words of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who on Wednesday publicly proclaimed that Israel is 'dying' and will be 'annihilated'.
Still, with US President George W Bush, Tony Blair and several other political figures in Jerusalem to pay their respects, we too should trace Israel's unlikely journey from mere sparkle in Theodor Herzl's eye to Southwest Asia's most economically and politically advanced nation.
Recent census data shows that Israel houses roughly 7.3 million citizens, of whom 75% are Jews, 20% are Arab, and the rest of mishmash from around the globe.
Image: US President George W Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a tour to the ancient hilltop fortress of Masada in the Judean desert, southeastern Israel.
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
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