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How Did the Cold War Affect Israel?

The recent recognition by America of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has brought back a debate over the nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Among the major questions presented lies that of why does America’s opinion over Israel have massive weight? The fact remains that the American custodianship of Israel is more of a hint of the nation’s Cold War rivalry for power against the Russia (Slater, 2020).  The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics led a fairly bi-polar world as a result of the events of World War One, which shifted the political balance on a worldwide scale. Due to the fact that World War II left many European cities in rubble and forced world leaders to consider new defenses against invasions in the future. While working together to defeat the Axis powers, the US and the Soviet Union’s partnership quickly devolved into a 50-year struggle (Slater, 2020). They regularly fought while attempting to increase Europe’s security because they had different ideas about how to restore the continent. Since both nations never engaged in direct combat, they worked towards increasing their military capabilities while also expanding their global influences. Through this, they were able to undermine the way of life of the others as the US believed in a capitalist system that featured a free market and numerous political parties. The USSR on the other hand was founded on a communist system that featured a centralized control system. Israel being part of the American allies played a unique role as it functioned as a proxy of America. The Cold War affected Israel by exacerbating the Arab-Israel conflict which in turn shaped the Israel-Palestine issues.

Although the principal political battles in Korea and Vietnam, as well as the later American activities, are frequently linked to the competition between the US and the USSR during the Cold War, the Middle East served as an equally significant theater of combat for the expanding struggle for worldwide power. Between 1945 and 1991, the Middle East worked as a combat zone for means and strategic associations, with substantial ramifications for then-current regional conflict (Ashley, 2012). The freshly established nation of Israel was the place where the effects of the Cold War were most noticeable and ubiquitous. One example of how the battle between the USSR and the US for regional dominance affected competitions and changed the dogmatic course of the Middle East is the Israeli victory throughout the first stage of the Arab-Israeli struggle. Even though the Cold War had only recently started, the US and USSR’s competition for the backing of the young Israeli state had already altered the local conflict’s character, extending it beyond the initial contested territory’s borders and onto the world stage (Siskind, 2020). The USSR and the US were the two countries that started this competition because they both sought to prevent one state from getting an edge over the other in a region that was fast turning into a critical one from a geopolitical perspective. The secret preference that the US and USSR had for Israel manifested itself in the arrangement of crucial armed and political assistance. Such backing was vital for Israel’s presence and the country’s success in its first battle, which was overwhelmed by Arab armies shortly after it was founded. The overt nature of backing that Israeli received from both the Soviet Union and America offered them legitimacy and cover in their cause. It is favor presented by both superpowers that showed the capability of the two rivals to outline continental and regional consequences.

Unlike the first stage of the dispute between the Arabs and Israelis, which saw an unforeseen coalition between Cold War supremacies, the second stage saw a change in pacts, with the USSR and the US taking more conventional Cold War positions against each other. This reconfiguration ultimately led to the resumption of conflicts amid the Arabs and Israelis. The classic point of the Arab-Israeli conflict began in the 1960s when the Soviet Union abandoned its association with Israel approving of one with the Arab countries while the United States continued to support Israel (Muravchik, 2020). When the Soviet Union told Egyptian President Nasser that Israeli soldiers were gathering on the Syrian border to build a pro-Soviet, anti-Zionist coalition with the Arab countries, the new network of alliances became more consolidated in 1967. Despite the fact that the report was false, Nasser was still motivated by it to forbid Israeli passage via the Red Sea, which the Israelis mistook for an act of war and resumed the fight. Israeli triumph was lauded globally as a win for the US vs the USSR. The participating Arab soldiers were severely destroyed in less than six days. Due to all of this, Israel was forced to play a special Cold War role for the West (Muravchik, 2020). Strong borders helped all of Europe, especially the occupied eastern European countries that served as a buffer. Israel, on the other hand, faced a constant threat of direct conflict with its Soviet-backed opponents despite being encircled and overwhelmed by unfriendly states.

In light of this, Israel conducted thorough intelligence collection activities directed at Russia and its customers. These operations yielded crucial information about Soviet military doctrine, weaponry, and strategic planning. Israel concentrated its efforts on two sectors during the subsequent forty years that were interconnected and interdependent. The first step was to gather specific information regarding Soviet-made weapons that Israel’s adversaries were using. To counter Soviet warheads and delivery systems during the arms race, America needed to be aware of the Soviet Union’s advantages (Glusman, 2018). Israel, on the other hand, required knowledge of the capabilities of its Arab adversaries to vanquish them despite its subpar tools and limited access to weapons. Israel in this instance was at a disadvantage both systematically and objectively compared to its neighbors, many of whom were outfitted with some of the most cutting-edge Soviet weaponry. To weaken the Soviet Union and strengthen the West, Israel made a concerted effort to inform its friends about Soviet capabilities and intentions. This second mission wasn’t just a result of the primary; it was a distinct goal that demanded significant determination and risk-taking, particularly from the operatives on the ground. Israel made more meticulous attempts in the years that followed to gather Cold War intelligence, and it made more sophisticated and significant contributions to its Western partners (Miller, 1987). For Israel, more than for any other Western government, the necessity for intelligence regarding Moscow’s policy, military shipments, and domestic politics was of the utmost importance. Israel aimed to avoid taking sides in the escalating Cold War. Their reliance on American economic assistance, both private and public, and its condemnation of North Korea during the Korean War, however, contributed to the deterioration of their relations with Russia.

In the United States, it was widely believed that the Soviet Union wanted to use the Arab-Israeli fight as a pretext to oust the West from the Middle East and establish Soviet dominance instead. According to popular belief, Soviet expansionism made it impossible to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Arab world that would both guarantee Israel’s legitimate security interests and safeguard those of the United States and other Western nations in the region (Baldwin, 1956). For these reasons, the Soviet Union was to be left out of any negotiations for a resolution by the United States. This ensured the exacerbation of the Arab-Israeli conflict as not soviet supported the Arab nations while the US placed its support towards Israel as a means of countering the Soviet efforts in creating a stronghold in the Asian continent. The Russians understood how important the Arab-Israeli dispute was to achieving their objectives of reducing Western intervention and enhancing their own. However, following the 1967 war, the Soviet Union was also concerned that future Arab-Israeli conflicts might lead to unfavorable conflicts with the U. S (Campbell, 1970).

In essence, the cold war affected Israel by worsening the Arab-Israel conflict which in turn brought about a new chapter in the Palestine-Israel dispute. The United States considered that its interests in the Middle East could only be safeguarded by tight ties with regional governments ready to align their policies with those of the western alliance at this time of the Cold War and economic expansion. However, many Arab leaders and political organizations contended that remaining neutral between the two military camps of the Soviet Union and the United States would be the best way to ensure independence in the post-colonial world. Israel was in the wrong place in history to receive support from the US.

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