Is Israel really a military superpower?
Prof. Dr. Stephan Stetter is Professor of International Politics and Conflict Research at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich. He is co-editor of the magazine for international relations.
His main research interests are historical-sociological analyzes of international relations, politics and society in the Middle East - especially Israel and Palestine - as well as EU foreign policy.
Dr. Jenny Hestermann, born in 1982, is a research associate in the "History of the 20th Century" department at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. She did her doctorate in Berlin and Jerusalem on state visits and symbolic politics in German-Israeli relations. Her specialist areas are the cultural history of diplomacy, German-Jewish history, the history of Israel and the history of Europe after 1945.
Opinions are divided about Israel
Since the founding of the state and international recognition by the United Nations (UN) and a majority of its member states - including the Soviet Union and the USA - in 1948, Israel has been involved in highly complex global relationships that have changed many times since then.
On the one hand, Israel is a close ally of many countries in the world - today in particular the countries of the West, above all the USA, but also the EU and its member states. Israel has many, often very emotional, supporters and admirers worldwide, not only on a diplomatic level, but also on a social level - and not only in the West and in Jewish diaspora communities. It should also be noted that Israel has undergone remarkable economic development since the 1940s, from a de facto developing country dependent on external aid to a leading global technology power. This growing economic weight is reflected at the political level in Israel's prosperous trade and cooperation networks with Europe, America, the Far East and Africa. Today Israel is a central regional power in the Middle East. Militarily and economically, alongside Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, it is one of the strongest states in the region - and there (so far) the only nuclear power. It also has important strategic alliances with Egypt, Jordan and, informally, with various states in the Maghreb and Arab states in the Gulf region.
At the same time, however, Israel's legitimacy is being disputed or questioned by numerous actors in the region and beyond. In an international comparison, the high number of states but also social groups that refuse to recognize Israel to this day is striking. Currently there are a total of 31 of the 192 UN member states, primarily member states of the Arab League (AL) and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) - but with important exceptions such as Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Worldwide there are - a reflection of the emotional support that the country and its people experience from other quarters - no less emotional political and social movements that are critical of Israel or even anti-Israeli. The spectrum ranges from non-violent actors to terrorist groups. Arguing with anti-Semitic stereotypes can also be observed again and again in these contexts. In this context, the legitimacy of the Jewish state is often called into question - be it in principle or because of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, which is of course also criticized by friendly actors and violates international law.
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