Friday, July 17, 2015

Why Israelis aren’t terrified over Iran threat

The world, led by the United States, celebrates a ‘deal’ with Iran. According to US President Hussein Obama, this deal is going to block every path [emphasis mine] Iran might take to a nuclear weapon (Lauren Gambino, “Obama: Iran deal blocks 'every pathway' to development of nuclear weapon”, The Guardian, July 15, 2015).

But not everyone joins Obama’s joy over this deal. Many, including both Israelis and Arabs, think this deal will only fuel Iran’s terror goals (Richard Spencer, “Israel and Saudi Arabia present united front over Iran deal”, The Telegraph, July 14, 2015). Even some Democrats see the plan as a boon to Iran terror, not peace (Alyssa Canobbio, “Democratic Congressman Rips Iran Deal for Absence of ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ Inspections, Lifting of Arms Embargo”, Washington Free Beacon, July 15, 2015).

US citizens are accustomed to seeing polls that almost always show a close split over a controversial issue. It almost seems that American news outlets conspire to get such results.

Americans are used to seeing poll results in the range of 45-55 per cent either way. Sometimes, they see an issue with a 48-52 per cent split—and a 3-4 per cent margin of error, which means that Americans are basically split 50-50 over that issue. A split like that is probably good for news rating numbers.

It’s unusual to see a poll that shows a 63 per cent result for one side. Even when the US President puts his heart and soul into an issue, a 63 per cent result isn’t the norm. But for this Iran deal, that’s what a new Pew Research global survey shows (Uri Friedman, “Where Iran Is Considered a Top Threat—and Where It Isn't”, The Atlantic, July 14, 2015). But that 63 per cent result isn’t what you think it is.

Around the world, citizens in only three countries appear to express real concern over this Iran deal. In Spain, 52 per cent of respondents say they are ‘very concerned’ about this deal (ibid). In Israel, 53 per cent of Israelis say they are ‘very concerned’ (ibid). The citizens of only one other country express that kind of concern.

That ‘one other country’ is the United States. There, 63 per cent of citizens say they are ‘very concerned’ about this Iran deal (ibid). The US President of the United States uses all his energy to promote the deal as ‘the best’. But 63 per cent of Americans are worried about that ‘best’. Apparently, they don’t buy what their President is selling.

Everywhere else, concern over the Iran deal ranges from a low of 8 per cent (China) to a high of 49 per cent (Brazil). The ‘Palestinian territories’ measured in with 17 per cent of its citizens saying they are ‘very concerned’ about the deal.

The question is, why are US citizens so much more concerned about Iran than Israel? This difference of ‘concern’ isn’t minor. In the world of polls, a 10 per cent difference (63 per cent in US versus 53 per cent in Israel) is huge.

Do Americans know something Israelis don’t? Do Americans worry that much more about Iran than Israelis?

The answer to these two questions is, no. The reason for this difference of concern lies elsewhere.

Israelis understand Iran’s terror goals  (David Daoud, “Top Khamenei Advisor: We Have Divine Permission to Destroy Israel”, The Algemeiner, May 12, 2015; “Israel Furious that Nuclear Talks Continue after Iranian Commander Says Destroying Israel is ‘Non-Negotiable’”, unitedwithisrael, April 1, 2015). Israelis know the existential risk they face with a belligerent Iran (Steven Emerson, “As Nuclear Talks Continue, Iran Issues Latest Threat to Destroy Israel”, The Alegemeiner, April 2, 2015).

Israelis understand the threat Iran poses. But Israelis don’t worry about that threat. They worry about a different existential threat. This existential threat is much closer to home. It’s a threat Israelis feel far more intensely than Iran.

As an Israeli comedian recently put it (I didn’t get his name): who cares about the Iranian threat? The real existential threat for Israelis is this: why do Israeli cab drivers keep cutting into on-coming traffic?

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