23% of Israelis ready to leave Israel at any hint of problems?

In the latest issue of the always informative journal Middle East Policy, University of Pennsylvania prof Ian Lustick expresses the notable observation that,

    Last year, a poll by David Menashri of the Iran center at Tel Aviv University reported … that 70 percent of Israeli Jews said they would not consider emigrating if Iran got the bomb. That’s an odd way to report a finding — how many would not consider emigrating. So there is deep fear.

I guess I have seen several references to the judgment that has apparently been reached by several Israeli decision-makers to the effect that the main bad thing that would ensue for Israel if Iran gets nuclear weapons is not necessarily a high probability that this would be used against Israel– which, goodness only knows, has 1,000 times the capability to deter such an action– but rather that Iran’s attainment of nuclear weapons would cause a mass flight of Israelis from the country.
But I hadn’t seen any reference to any data on this until I read Lustick’s piece. Then I Googled around a bit and found this report in Haaretz from May 2009. And actually, despite the way that Lustick wrote about the way the poll’s findings were reported, Haaretz reported outright that,

    Some 23 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.

So much for them thinking that Israel is their eternal homeland, etc etc. As one expert on Algeria’s long battle for independence from France commented to me, “This makes Israeli attitudes seem very close to those of the French pieds noirs colonists in Algeria. The vast majority of them fled back to France when the going got tough and Algeria won its independence.” That, even though until that point they had all been adamant that Algeria was an integral part of France.
Or, one might say, the attitude of those many “White” former South Africans whom one meets in various spots around the world today, in which they have resettled after “giving up” on South Africa.
From the point of view of hardline Zionists, Jewish Israelis probably have far too many options for citizenship or longterm residence in other places around the world today. For starters, just about all of them could settle in the U.S. tomorrow if they chose, no questions asked. In addition, as my friend Yossi Alpher explained to me a couple of years ago in Tel Aviv, since the end of the Cold War a couple of million Jewish Israelis have either hung onto the citizenship they formerly had in the former Soviet Union or the countries of (former) Eastern Europe– or, in many cases, the Israeli children and grandchildren of people who fled to Israel from Eastern Europe during the Nazi era have been going back to Poland, or Hungary, or Slovakia, or wherever and reclaiming their citizenship “rights” there by inheritance… Something that’s especially valuable now that all those former Warsaw Pact countries are now firmly in the E.U.
(That, while they continue to totally deny to the Palestinian refugees any analogous right to return to their grandparent’s homes and properties within what is now Israel.)
But the bottom line in this phenomenon of Israelis being ready to leave so easily– if Iran even gets, let alone shows any sign of moving towards using nuclear weapons– seems to be that actually, the Zionist project of building Israel as the last, safest haven for Jewish people worldwide seems not to be terribly successful.
… All the above is interesting and notable even though I– like many other people– have still not seen any evidence that convinces me that the Iranian government is in fact aiming at building a nuclear weapon. This is more about Israel than it is about Iran.
Anyway, the rest of what Lustick writes there is also well analyzed and important.

12 thoughts on “23% of Israelis ready to leave Israel at any hint of problems?

  1. Salah

    that 70 percent of Israeli Jews said they would not consider emigrating if Iran got the bomb. That’s an odd way to report a finding — how many would not consider emigrating. So there is deep fear.
    Before jumping to conclusions for polls that most the time are prepared for drifting the attentions and used for its face value as such, we need to look to the history of Jews in ME and Eastern Europe and how Zionists agencies worked hard to encourage and manipulated Jews from their born homeland s to join the “Promised land) with huge efforts and funds make many left without regrets’.
    Also you need to rethink why those Jews from US leaving US and going to Promise land with all the troubles there and danger that the face of wars and conflicts, with huge Tax bourdon, loans and money most of all dual citizen that they enjoyed for their rest of life and their future generations.
    As an Iraq born and lived in Iraq city of Hilla which very famous to Jews from two things first the Babylonian extorted and the near by very Holly place (Al-Kiffil) where one of Rabies from Babylonian place their and use to be visited memorized by Iraqi Jews, used my father who had many Jews Iraqis friends and colleagues with long sharing life with them and how things went bitter made 100,000 Iraqi Jews left Iraq even they left with dropped eyes for uncertain future some choose to leave in fact not toward Promise land some went to UK and US.

  2. Michael W.

    Your assertion that Israelis view their country as a colony because 23% percent of them would consider leaving the country if Iran got a nuclear weapon is ridiculous. In Africa, there are many millions of refugees displaced from their countries of origin or their home towns. These African refugees fear death and violence from war like many Israelis fear the death and violence that might come from an Iranian nuclear weapon.
    You are masking individual’s basic need for self preservation with the a people’s complex view of their country.
    Your analysis is absurd, and ideologically driven. You surround the statements of Israelis with your own misconceptions of what Israelis actually think. Any African would leave Africa if he or she were faced with imminent demise, death or violence especially if they could go to Europe or America. In fact, millions of Africans have done so for economic reasons. That doesn’t mean that they view Africa anything less than their homeland.
    It is actually more surprising that more Israelis are not considering leaving when faced with possible death. Let say an African has as much opportunity to move to a developed country as Israelis, faced with the threat of a nuclear bomb falling on them, how many Africans do you think would consider moving? Even without the threat of a nuclear bomb?

  3. David Jardine

    I think we might reasonably suppose this cohort of would-be leavers is largely if not solely made up of those Israelis with dual nationality. If it is not, it would be of interest to know where they mostly intend to go, given the raw state of asylum seeker politics all across the West…

  4. Jack

    I cannot believe that anyone seriously believes that Iran would use a nuclear weapon on Israel; they know that it would be suicidal. On the other hand, I have no doubt that if they really believed that they were going to lose a major war and be overrun by Arab forces, Israel would not hesitate to use its nuclear weapons. There is good reason to believe that they started considering it during the earliest phase of the 1973 war. Iran, on the other hand is a more rational nation, even with the clown Ahmedenijad. The main effect of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon would be to break the Israeli monopoly and change the balance of power in the middle east. Perhaps those who would leave simply do not want to give up the position of being the neighborhood bully (with US backing, of course).

  5. David

    Helena,
    I’m still trying to figure out your thought process when you make a statement that Israel “has 1,000 times the capability to deter such an action”.
    Israel has x times the capability to deter rockets being fired at it from Lebanon or Gaza. But when they use that deterent capabilty to pound Lebanon and Gaza into thinking twice about firing rockets you then claim that this had the oppostite effect as it makes everyone hate Israel even more.
    So just what deterent capability does Israel have? That they can nuke Iran and become the first country since the invention of nuclear weapons to actually use them? I am going to agree with anyone who says this will most definitely have the opposite effect. It would so inflame, not just Arab or Muslims but almost anyone else.
    Now of course Israel could wait and only make a counter stike but considering Israel’s small size and population density it would have to promise to wipe most of Iran’s major cities off the map to equalize the potential for destruction.
    And after that will Israel be safer? Deterence only works if it actually does deter the other side. It is not at all certain that Israel can deter an Iranian attack. It might postpone for a few years by a preemptive attack, but that would all but guarantee a future attack.
    This is why Israel fears a nuclear Iran. They have no real deterent ability. Only very bad options.

  6. (Another) David

    These results hint that many “olim” came to Israel primarily for economic reasons and are not particularly attached to the nation. There are hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have already made “yerida” (the opposite of “aliyah”). And there will be many more in times of war, threat, or intifada.

  7. Salah

    seems to be that actually, the Zionist project of building Israel as the last, safest haven for Jewish people worldwide seems not to be terribly successful.
    Whatever goals setup for regarding Jewish State in Palestine, there are many Israeli Jews and around the world against what you called “Zionist project “ part of their objections were religious believes and others they may you call them lefties .
    Anyway Jews who immigrate to the “Promise Land “ not necessarily they still their for the rest of live inside Israel moreover not all their new generation living inside Israel.
    The most obvious example is Rahm Emanuel who is more effective for Israelis than he stayed and lived forever inside Israel but his move to US make him more supportive for Israelis than any American citizen who are fare from Judaism or never been or born in promises land.

  8. Salah


    قضاء الهندية،ومركزه مدينة “طويريج” بعض من الفرات الأوسط،كان من أعمال لواء الحلة”محافظة بابل حاليا”، وأضيف إلى محافظة كربلاء منذ العام 1976..كان البعض من اليهود يسكنون مركز هذا القضاء قبل اتخاذهم قرار الهجرة الطوعية إلى فلسطين المحتلة سواء في العمليات السرية الضخمة التي نظمتها الصهيونية أو بموجب القانون الذي أقرته حكومة توفيق السويدي الثالثة في العاشر من آذار/مارس 1951 بضغوط بريطانية معروفة،أما المتخلفين الذين أصروا على المكوث في العراق،فقد أضطروا لأن يهاجروا بعد تنفيذ الصهيونية سلسلة من التفجيرات الإرهابية في معابد اليهود العرقيين وتجمعاتهم،والتي راح ضحيتها عدد من هؤلاء اليهود والتي كانت تهدف الى إيهامهم أن الشعب العراقي يرفضهم وسيقضي عليهم.

    عبد علي وريث اليهودي ساسون سرسوح

  9. Eurosabra

    Palestinian supporters are obsessed with proving the Israeli Jews to be pieds-noirs because of their shame that in 1948 it was Palestinian descendants of mujahidin conquerers who thronged the Haifa and Jaffa waterfronts seeking passage to anywhere.

  10. Eurosabra

    Incidentally, I am always interested in which of my least sober comments get through, as I am sure they are supposed to represent the “True Face of Israel” on this blog. Both Israelis and Palestinians emphasize rootedness in the land, trees, planting, etc, and Meron Benvenisti and Raja Shehadeh understand this fascination in their writings, and also discuss the belittling (Amos Kenan’s “The Poem Affair” in French, on Darwish’s “Passing Between Passing Words” is an example) of the other nationalism as an artifact, a colonial remnant, a dream from which the Other will awake as soon as he realizes he will really be at home elsewhere. One could make the argument that the departure of 100,000 Palestinians in the past 10 years and the rootedness of Palestinian-Americans in communities such as Paterson, NJ means that Palestinians have turned away from the anachronistic dream of a Palestinian state, and one would be wrong about that too.

  11. JK

    Palestinian supporters are obsessed with proving the Israeli Jews to be pieds-noirs Whatever. A simpler word is “thief” Israel has proved itself to be addicted to thievery. That is the sole cause of the continued conflict. The other side has been offering generous 2-state offers, offers that were discussed in Israeli cabinet meetings as perfectly acceptable. But Israel thought it could get “a little more”.

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