Israel Becomes the Middle East’s Superpower

The state of affairs in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen attests to the regional order's failure.

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has held military supremacy over its Arab neighbors, though they still treated it as a pariah state. Israel built the institutions of a modern state, absorbed Jewish immigrants from across the world, created a formidable military and immediately developed a specialized, Western economy. Its founding fathers introduced a democratic, albeit illiberal and fragmented, political system. Israel not only survived but grew to become the region’s economic and military tiger. While Israel was busy creating deep state foundations, its Arab adversaries quarreled with each other, and their armies toppled civilian rulers and founded military dictatorships. They oppressed their populations, and instead of developing their countries, they wandered into ruinous military adventurism. It did not take them long to decay and eventually implode. The sad state of affairs in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen attest to the Arab regional order’s failure. Israel’s Peace Strategy Israel always wanted peace with the Arab world, but its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, knew his country could not accept the high price the Arabs would demand after their humiliating defeat in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. He figured that the Arabs would want “either territory, the return of refugees, or […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.