2018-08-29 / Editorial

Israel: The 8th most powerful nation in the world

By JOSEPH PUDER For the Voice

“U.S. News and World Report” presented a study of the 25 most powerful nations in the world, taking into account such factors as political and diplomatic influence, economic success, as well as military strength of the ranked nations. The study evaluated 80 countries based on responses of 21,000 people, most of them esteemed diplomats, economists, elected officials, scholars, journalists, academicians, and some ordinary people. The 2018 best countries ranking was a partnership with global marketing communications company Y&R’s Brand Strategy Firm, BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Its findings placed Israel number eight in the world in terms of power.

“U.S. News and World Report” describes Israel as a technologically advanced market economy with cut diamonds, high-technology equipment and pharmaceuticals among its major exports. The country is very highly developed in terms of life expectancy, education, per capita income, and other human development index indicators. While the culture of Jewish Israelis and the Arab minority have remained fairly separate, the country has been influenced by Jewish immigrants from all over the world, many of whom have gone on to make significant contributions to science, politics, and the arts…Israel is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For its relatively small size, the country has played a large role in global affairs. The country has a strong economy and landmarks of significance to several religions.

Robert Farley, writing for the “National Interest” (Feb. 8, 2017) pointed out “The creation of fantastic soldiers, sailors, and airmen doesn’t happen by accident, and doesn’t result simply from enthusiasm and competence of the recruits. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has developed systems of recruitment, training, and retention that allow it to field some of the most competent, capable soldiers in the world. None of the technologies above work unless they have smart, dedicated, well-trained operators to make them function at their fullest potential.”

Farley goes on to say about the Israeli military, “Since 1948, the state of Israel has fielded a frighteningly effective military machine. Built on the foundation of pre-independence militias, supplied with cast-off World War II weapons, the IDF has enjoyed remarkable success in the field. In the 1960s and 1970s, both because of its unique needs, and because of international boycotts, Israel began developing its own military technologies, as well as augmenting the best foreign tech. Today, Israel boasts one of the most technologically advanced military stockpiles in the world, and one of the world’s most effective workforces.”

Aside from its competent military and robust economy, Israel is increasingly gaining diplomatic recognition and cooperation, albeit not in the United Nations. In recent years, Israel’s strength has been reinforced by formal and non-formal alliances and treaties.

Israel’s alliance with the U.S. is solid and beneficial to both parties, although there is no formal defense treaty between the two nations. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoys a special relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump as well as a warm relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was evidenced recently when Putin invited Netanyahu to join him in celebrating the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Netanyahu was accorded special honors with the Israeli national anthem being played, and was seated next to Putin during the parade.

The close friendship between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PM Netanyahu has helped foster a close relationship between Israel and India. Similarly, Israel’s pivot toward Asia has also elevated its relations with Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Singapore.

To offset the anti-Israel schemes of the European Union (EU), PM Netanyahu has joined with former Warsaw Pact states, now member states of the EU, known as the Visegrad group, consisting of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. These states, together with Israel, oppose open borders and insist on border security and combatting Islamist terrorism. In June, 2018 the Visegrad group signed a memorandum of understanding on innovation and cooperation with Israel in Jerusalem.

In November, 2017, Netanyahu met in Nairobi, Kenya, with 10 African leaders, including the leaders of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Togo, Botswana, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. He told the group of leaders that this was his third trip to Africa in 18 months, and a second visit to Kenya. He added, “We believe in Africa. We love Africa, and I would like very much not only to cooperate on an individual basis with each of your countries…but also with the African Union.”

Israel has also effectively concluded an informal alliance with the moderate Sunni Arab states. This is a strategic alliance intended to block the Islamic Republic of Iran’s expansionism and its hegemonic drive. Simultaneously Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf States (especially the United Arab Republic and Bahrain), Saudi Arabia and Israel are sharing intelligence on Iran, the Islamic State and alQaeda terrorists. This is definitely an unprecedented informal alliance that might, at some point, lead to a formal peace between Saudi Arabia (the Gulf States would follow) and Israel.

The Jewish state can also count on the strength of over 100 million evangelical Christians who love Israel, and have consistently supported its cause. These Christians are spread worldwide with the majority of them being based in the U.S.

An Eastern Mediterranean Alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus has emerged in the last three years. The coming together of these three nations is the result of sharing democratic governments, and the joint desire for stability and progress in a region suffering from endemic Middle Eastern strife, radical Islamism, and the threat of a Turkish fundamentalist and autocratic regime led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In addition, the three states seek to promote strong economic bonds following the discovery of rich hydrocarbon deposits in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones.

Expecting revenue from the newly discovered gas fields on its Mediterranean Sea shores, Israel is planning to establish an endowment fund to provide support to Third World countries. This should garner major support from countries that hitherto did not vote with Israel at the UN and other international forums.

The power ranking was based, according to “U.S. News and World Report,” on an equally weighted average of scores from five country attributes that related to a country’s power: Its leader, economic influence, political influence, strong international alliances, and strong military alliances. Naturally, a battle-tested military is relevant as well. Considering all of the above, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has been a major player in the global arena, and Israel’s economic assets, as well as its advanced technology in particular, have attracted a great deal of attention in Asia and elsewhere.

Finally, its formal and informal alliances negate the famous old self-described aphorism of a “Nation that dwells alone.” Israel is no longer alone in spite of the BDS campaigns against the Jewish state on Western campuses that seek to isolate it and delegitimize it. Israel is strong and getting stronger.

Joseph Puder is a Southern New Jersey resident and executive director of the Delaware Valley office of StandWithUs, a pro- Israel education and advocacy organization.

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