Last week, Berlin preliminarily approved the purchase of the Arrow-3 missile-defense system from Jerusalem, for a price of $4.3 billion dollars. Such a news story would have been entirely inconceivable 80 years ago. Herb Keinon comments:
[O]nce so desperate for arms that it agreed to take them from West Germany in 1958 despite fierce internal opposition to the idea on moral grounds, [Israel] is now able to sell state-of-the-art weaponry to Germany. And it is doing so without any significant internal debate about whether it is seemly for the Jewish state to provide weapons to Germany, a nation that only three generations ago was responsible for the murder of more than one-third of the Jewish people.
This reversal of fortune also reflects the distance that Israel has traveled as a country. Not that long ago, the main thing it had to offer the world was Jaffa oranges, a revolutionary depilating device called Epilady, and the Uzi submachine gun. Today, it provides missiles that shoot down other missiles in the stratosphere [and] software that drives industries, and is on the cusp of exporting natural gas to European countries seeking to reduce their dependence on Russian oil.
These sales are important to Israel for two main reasons. First, they strengthen bilateral ties. If Israel is providing a country with weapons that keep it safe, that country—for instance, Azerbaijan or India, which have emerged as key markets for Israeli arms—will relate to Israel in a fundamentally different way than if there were no arms sales in the relationship.
The second reason these sales are so critical for Israel is that they make it possible for the country to conduct the research and development to produce the weapons it needs for its own survival.