Israeli police stand near cars that were damaged when a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip landed nearby in the southern city of Ashdod on March 12.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli police stand near cars that were damaged when a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip landed nearby in the southern city of Ashdod on March 12.
(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

‘Iran Wouldn’t Use the Bomb’

March 15, 2012  •  From
What Israel has to fear, even if it doesn’t get nuked.

Iran wouldn’t be crazy enough to nuke Israel, so Israel doesn’t need to worry about attacking Iran. That’s the gist of the argument against war with Iran, being penned by columnists around the world.

That’s a big assumption, considering the aggressive language coming from Iran’s leaders.

But even if Iran doesn’t attack it, Israel still has plenty to worry about.

Would ‘Probably’ Be Good Enough for You?

That’s an important question. Would you feel safe knowing you probably wouldn’t be nuked? nasa scientists have spotted an asteroid that has a 1 in 625 chance of hitting the Earth in 2040. Some scientists are saying we need to start working right now on concrete plans to stop it hitting us.

For threats like these—destruction by an asteroid or nuclear weapon—being 624/625 sure isn’t enough.

It’s easy for people thousands of miles away to write about Israel probably being safe. It’s a much bigger worry for someone living in Tel Aviv.

Being a new nation, Israel is populated by Jews who have made Aliyah—immigrated back to their homeland. The mass immigration of skilled professionals has built a strong modern economy. But if Iran is there constantly rattling a nuclear sabre, this immigration could quickly dry up. Iran’s rhetoric about wiping out Israel wouldn’t stop if it got the bomb. Who would want to move their families to an area under the threat of nuclear war?

A Nuclear Umbrella

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out in his March 5 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac): “A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella.”

“Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella,” he said. “It means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic weapons. So the terrorism could grow tenfold.”

Iran could bring Gaza, the Sinai and Lebanon under its nuclear umbrella, saying that if Israel attacks these areas, Iran will respond with a nuclear attack. Even if Israeli leaders believe Iran probably wouldn’t follow through, it would still take a lot of guts to call Iran’s bluff.

Around 200 rockets have landed in Israel just since Friday. Israel has responded with air strikes, but that won’t get to the cause of the problem. If Israel won’t deal with this now, how will it have the will to solve the problem once Iran has nukes?

The range of the terrorists’ rockets is increasing, inching toward being able to reach Tel Aviv. A senior police official recently told the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv that “We know that terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have long-range missiles with a range of 60 to 70 kilometers that are ready to be launched towards Israel,” according to Israeli business paper Globes.

As Mr. Netanyahu pointed out, how much bolder will these groups be once they know that a nuclear Iran has got their backs?

Crippling the Nation

Israel is about to become a very scary place to live. Even if nothing happens—and again, that is a big if—just being a scary place could cripple the nation.

Israel’s immigration could dry up. In fact, it could start moving the other way. Because many Israelis are recent immigrants, they still hold passports or citizenship elsewhere, and could leave.

Immigration has been key to Israel’s economic growth. Reverse it, and the growth reverses too.

Israel’s high-tech industry could go. This industry accounts for 45 percent of the country’s exports.

Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg wrote in his new book The Unmaking of Israel that “the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry.” Arguing against a one-state solution, Gorenberg warns that the resulting high taxes would mean that “Both individuals and companies will leave.”

Surely the threat of a nuclear bomb would do the same thing.

Coupled with this, Israel is facing some major demographic problems already. Firstly, Arab birthrates are much higher than Jewish ones, meaning that in the years ahead, Jewish Israelis could become a minority in their own country.

Israel’s economy is also threatened by a huge segment of the population that refuses to work and instead lives off government handouts. The ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews believe they must spend their time in prayer and study, so few go out to work. Sixty-five precent of Haredi men ages 35 to 54 don’t work. The Haredim make up roughly 10 percent of Israel’s population—so roughly 6 percent of Israel’s population is composed of Haredi not in employment. This is a drag on the whole economy.

This drag will only get bigger. Twenty years ago, only 3 percent of Israel’s population was Haredi. By 2028, it is forecast that 25 percent of children under 14 will be Haredi.

With growing numbers of Haredim and Arabs in Israel, neither of which have to serve in the army, generals are worried they could run out of troops.

In 2010, a senior Israeli government economist warned: “The gaps in military service create a sense of injustice, but the problem of employment is really existential. We have about 15 years to resolve this. If we fail, Israel will not be able to sustain itself: For every worker, we will have four people not working.”

A nuclear Iran makes this problem even worse. If Israel’s richer immigrants and entrepreneurs leave and new immigration dries up, followed by “the engine of the Israeli economy”—the high-tech industry—disappearing, Israel risks declining into a Second World nation.

So even if Iran doesn’t use the bomb, Israel faces being regularly threatened with nuclear annihilation and attack by emboldened terrorists. Couple this with an increasingly radical Egypt on its southern border and it is obvious that Israel is facing an existential threat—again, even if a nuclear bomb is not used.

That’s not to say that attacking Iran would be a solution that would make all of these problems go away. It wouldn’t. In the short term it would make it worse, as former head of Mossad Meir Dagan recently pointed out.

In fact, Israel’s problems are so great that there is no solution—at least none that man has. Its only solution is to look to God for help. As these trends play out in the months and years ahead, this will become increasingly obvious.