Head of Jewish Agency: Talk of Iran Strike Slowing Aliyah to Israel

Natan Sharansky reports last-minute cancellations by dozens of would-be immigrants.

Fearing imminent war with Iran has prompted Jews from around the world to delay their planned immigration to Israel, says Jewish Agency-World Zionist Organization chairman Natan Sharansky.

In a Sunday morning interview with Army Radio, Sharansky said there had been “incidents of would-be immigrants canceling their plans after all the details had been finalized. One of them told me: 'We will come after the Middle East has had its nuclear war.'”

Despite the negative effect of war talk on immigration, one of the Jewish Agency/WZO's principal objectives, Sharansky expressed support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making it clear that “if the world won't attack, Israel would.” Sharansky, who served as a minister in 1990s governments headed by both Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the current defense minister, said that the “constant chatter [about a possible Israeli attack on Iran] is making Jews everywhere panic. It is also weakening the government's deterrence.”

Meanwhile, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally in Tehran that he hopes for "a new Middle East, with no memory of the American or Zionist presence."

The Zionist regime, he added, is "a malignant cancer, an insult to humanity." Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' aerial corps, said he would welcome an Israeli attack, because it would allow his country to "get rid of Israel forever" in response.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that the debate within Israel over whether to attack Iran stems from recognition of how strong Iran is. "Will Israel give Iran the excuse it has been awaiting for 32 years?" he asked.