Israeli flag waves on top of a mountain in the sunset.

A recent study by the National Power Index ranks Israel among the 10 most powerful nations in the world. The study ranks countries by comparing their economy, military, diplomacy, technology and population. The NPI ranking illustrates the high quality of life in the Jewish state.

If you are thinking of making a trip to Israel, know you’re not alone. More tourists than ever visited Israel in 2017, with an estimated 3.6 million tourists visiting.

Israel has also made strides in international relations. President Trump announced the U.S. formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital of Israel and Vice President Pence said the U.S. will move its embassy by the end of 2019. 

Likewise, when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians, the current U.S. administration clearly maintains that Palestinian terrorism is the main obstacle to peace while previous American administrations blamed “Jewish settlements” for being the key hindrance to any peace treaty.

According to Israeli cabinet members, the close relationship between the current leaders of Israel and the U.S. is a strategic asset for the Jewish state. Israel is freer than ever to exercise its policies in the region.

Along with these successes, Israel is facing a variety of threats. The Palestinians’ daily efforts to murder Jews are deterred by the IDF, for the most part, but are still successful in some cases.

Talk about actual peace is rare and, instead, Israel is left with two options: to annex a large part of Judea and Samaria, an area where 50,000 Palestinians and 360,000 Jews live; or to give this land to the Palestinians and form a new border.

If the second option sounds familiar, it’s because it is: Israel attempted that exact plan when it disengaged from Gaza in 2005. The result was three wars with Hamas and a humanitarian crisis when Hamas used international funds meant for the people of Gaza to invest in weapons and terror tunnels.

The most serious threat to Israel comes from Lebanon, where the terror oganization Hezbollah is headquartered and, for all intents and purposes, rules the country. Hezbollah is sponsored by Iran, and it threatens Israel with its stockpile of more than 120,000 missiles.

In Syria, with Russia’s help, Iran is attempting to create a territorial continuity from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s getting closer to that goal, especially after receiving billions of dollars from the nuclear deal with the U.S.  

If a war does begin in the north, Israel will be up against three major players: Iran, Hezbollah and Syria.

Israel realizes the level of this threat and has promised to “bring Lebanon back to the Stone Age” and to end Assad’s regime in Syria if a war starts. Of course, these are consequences that Iran would be happy to face for the chance to destroy Israel, especially because until now, Iran believed that its homeland would not be affected.

This is why Israeli officials are now starting to threaten attacks on Iranian soil if Israel is attacked by Iran’s proxies. There are two red lines Israel will not tolerate being crossed, and these are the delivery of precision-guided missiles to Hezbollah by Iran and the establishment of a substantial Iranian military force in Syria. In the case of these events, Israel has promised to attack.

Of course, as we well know, things in the Middle East can change very quickly. Arab Sunni states like Saudi Arabia and allies like the United States might also be on a collision course with Tehran, which would help Israel in fighting the Shiite regime. Israel realizes that military confrontations are inevitable, but for now, its goal is to delay any potential wars as long as possible without compromising Israel’s security.

Kobi Erez
Kobi Erez

Kobi Erez is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-Michigan Region.

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