Neighbors in Arms: Israel and Europe Must Strengthen Their Military Partnership

Excerpt Below:

On a late summer day, August 17, 2023, the United States approved Israel’s sale of its Arrow-3 missile defense system to Germany. It was reportedly the largest foreign military sale in Israel’s history, clocking in at over $3.5 billion. The symbolism of the deal—Germany looking to Israel to protect its skies—was not lost on either side. “Seventy-five years ago, the Jewish People had been ground into ash on the soil of Nazi Germany,” read a statement from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Seventy-five years later, the state of the Jews is giving Germany, a different Germany, the tools to defend itself.”

Germany’s Ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, said of the purchase, “It is highly valuable for both sides—of great material value for Israel, and of a symbolic value for both of us because for many years the military relationship with Israel was more of a one-way street; us providing material to the Israelis.”

The Arrow-3 purchase demonstrates European awareness of the need to look beyond the continent to defend itself. When in March 2022 it was first reported that Germany sought a missile defense system from another country in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained, “We need to be aware that we have a neighbor who is prepared to use violence to enforce their interests.”

In other words, the Arrow-3 purchase was historic not only because it happened, but when it happened—as a European nation began to contemplate its defense in existential terms as the continent faced the largest land war since World War II. While the Arrow-3 was far from Israel’s first foreign military sale, it was the first and most significant for a war taking place outside of the Middle East. It took a conventional war to shake the cobwebs from the bureaucratic U.S. and European defense industrial bases, which had not needed to innovate and scale production with such speed and urgency in decades.

Jacob Olidort is the Director of Research at the Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

Read the full op-ed in The Republic.