A protest in Tel Aviv against attacking Iran.
A protest in Tel Aviv against attacking Iran. Photo by Moti Milrod
Text size

The Jewish New Year that began last week doesn't seem to hold much optimism for Israeli citizens: A majority rates the chance of a war breaking out with Iran in the coming year as "high" or "medium," according to a new Haaretz-Dialog survey.

And half of Israelis say they either "fear" or "greatly fear" for the state's continued existence if such a war breaks out.

Only a quarter of those questioned said they do not fear for the state's future in a scenario in which Israel and Iran go to war. Something has evidently happened to Israelis' famed self-confidence.

While the question of fear for the state's existence has not been asked in previous opinion polls, it can reasonably be assumed that this is an exceptional finding. That should please Iran's leaders, who have proclaimed several times recently that the Zionist state's days are numbered.

In contrast, it should worry Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to deliver an important speech on the Iranian issue to the UN General Assembly this evening. It should also worry Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has said on more than one occasion that fears about the result of an Israeli attack on Iran are exaggerated, and that the number of Israeli deaths would not exceed 500.

Barak's efforts to calm the public have evidently come to nothing. One has to admit the public is scared. Apparently, the public believes President Shimon Peres and the many senior defense officials who have warned that an Israeli attack could have disastrous repercussions.

Nevertheless, the survey shows that the public's collective anxiety is not harming Netanyahu's status or endangering his chances of forming a coalition after the next election, assuming the election were held today.

The poll, supervised by Tel Aviv University statistician Prof. Camil Fuchs, was conducted at the beginning of the week.