Israel Elections 2013: Iran Is a Shadow Looming Over These Elections

A recent poll by The Times of Israel show that Israelis remain concerned about Iran. In fact, 12% of Israelis rank Iran as the most important issue facing the new government. Some pundits who remain oblivious to the Iranian threat suggest that this number shows a lack of concern in Israel for this threat. In addition, these pundits suggest that the U.S. focuses too much on Iran. Both of these conclusions are wrong.

The poll asked likely voters to choose the top government policy concern out of a list of six possible answers. That economic matters placed first should come as no surprise. Job security, inflation, the housing market, and stock performance are concerns which most people face on a daily basis. Foreign policy is another matter. While 43% of Israelis rate economic issues as the top issue facing the government, only 16% rated deterioration with the Palestinians as a top concern. Does this mean that the typical Israeli is unconcerned with the matters within the West Bank or Gaza? Of course not! With the rocket attacks throughout 2012, the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, and call-ups of the defense reserves, most Israelis are troubled with the state of affairs. However, economic issues still rank higher.

Similarly, Iran ranks lower than economic issues — but only just behind Palestinian relations. The recent conflict with Gaza impacted a wide swath of Israel, from residential areas along the Gaza border to urban Tel Aviv. Yet, just 16% of likely voters rated this as the top concern. Simply put, the economy impacts people every day and receives much more constant mental focus than foreign relations. With this in mind, that 12% of Israeli voters rank Iran as the top government concern shows the relative importance of this issue. This concern ranks almost as high as the conflict which entered a ceasefire just weeks ago.

Israelis are prudent to be concerned. Iran funds Hezbollah to Israel’s north in Lebanon. In addition, Iran has enabled Gaza militants in the south to acquire longer range rockets. These rockets threaten even Tel Aviv, far in the north, on a daily basis. Most importantly, Iran continues to pursue levels of uranium enrichment which will enable nuclear weapons development. Certain extremist religious elements within Iran seek to unite the Islamic world under a single caliphate. Obtaining a nuclear weapon would assist Iran in playing the leading role in this desire for dominion. The Iranian president consistently proclaims his desire to eradicate the Jewish state of Israel. These statements combined with the weapons provisions in the region and the nuclear program should not be counted as mere bombast.

Israelis remain concerned about Iran, ranking just below Palestinian relations on the list of international issues. Likewise, this nation should remain cognizant of the threat a nuclear armed Iran poses to the free world. The danger grows each as each day the enrichment process advances. Iran poses a threat to both the United States and our close ally, Israel. As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated this month, the world needs to “wake up” to the real challenges of Iran and Syria rather than remain focused on Jerusalem building construction.