As Israel turns 70, a bit of optimism is in order along with an open-eyed recognition of the many challenges that face us.Tehran’s expansionism, which can be seen as the filling of the vacuum left by America’s retreat from the region under former president Barack Obama, has resulted in an Iranian military presence on Israel’s northern border.Amir Eshel, former commander of the Israel Air Force, admitted recently that the number of sorties that Israel has carried out in Syria since 2012 to prevent Iran from smuggling arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon or for other goals is approaching triple digits.On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s security services are poised to thwart an Iranian attempt to harm Israel’s diplomats abroad in response to Israel’s actions in Syria.With Donald Trump signaling his intention to pull US troops out of Syria and with Russia’s Vladimir Putin unable or unwilling to restrain Iran, a clash seems nearly unavoidable between Israel and the Islamic Republic.On the other hand, Iran’s meddling in the region has led to a dramatic realignment of interests.In the not too distant past, serious people such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis – as head of US Central Command in 2013 – claimed that America’s perceived bias in favor of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians meant that the US “paid a military security price.” He argued that none of “the moderate Arabs” could come out publicly in support of Americans because they “don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians.”But today, the purported detrimental effects of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, or “Israeli intransigence” as Mattis’s predecessor David Petraeus as head of the US Central Command put it in 2010, have been dwarfed by what “moderate Arabs” rightly perceive as the real threats to them – Iran and various forms of Sunni Islamists from Islamic State and al-Qaeda to the Muslim Brotherhood.Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt now share with Israel the goals of containing Iran and fighting Islamists, whether in Syria and Lebanon or in the Sinai Peninsula and along Jordan’s borders. More important, they recognize Israel’s critical contribution, as the strongest military power in the region, in confronting Iran.Of course, we should not confuse common goals with common values. Israel is not on the same page as Saudi Arabia or Egypt when it comes to human rights and freedom.But there are strategic benefits to limited cooperation.Israel continues to be singled out for demonization in diplomatic forums, in legal arenas and in the media. The bizarre partnership of Western progressives with violently reactionary Islamists enables lies about Israel to go unquestioned.But there are signs of change. There has been only muted criticism from countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for instance, of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or even of Israel’s handling of Hamas-instigated riots along the border with the Gaza Strip, as part of the realignment of interests mentioned above.In addition, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has emerged as an indefatigable champion of truth. At every opportunity she points out the UN’s hypocrisy in condemning Israel while ignoring real crimes against humanity perpetrated by other member states.Europeans’ grappling with waves of immigration from mostly Muslim countries has led them to better understand the challenges faced by Israel. Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank is not the cause of the Palestinian embrace of political extremism, whether it be the Islamist Hamas in Gaza, or the corrupt Fatah in the West Bank that refuses to stop providing incentives to murder Israelis. Rather it is a deeper crisis affecting Islam and the Arab world.Domestically, a robust debate rages over how best to balance our legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.Given Israel’s unresolved conflict with the Palestinians and the tendency in a professedly Jewish state to emphasize Jewish rights, we view a strong judicial branch as essential to maintaining Israel’s substantive democracy.It is encouraging that even in our current government coalition there are defenders of the Supreme Court, such as Kulanu’s chairman Moshe Kahlon and Likud ministers such as Tzachi Hanegbi.As we celebrate Israel’s 70th year, the Jewish state faces many challenges, but it is better positioned than ever to strive and flourish.