In a "Q+A" published on Reuters' website today, Alastair Macdonald asks the question that everyone from Russian president Dmitri Medvedev to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is asking: could Israel strike Iran over nuclear concerns?
As evidence that Israel might not attack Iran, Macdonald cites a poll taken in June that, "showed Israelis would not expect a nuclear Iran to attack". Though he provides no numbers, the poll to which Macdonald refers also indicates that 21% of Israelis believe "Iran would attack Israel with nuclear weapons with the objective of destroying it".
The poll further indicates that a nuclear-armed Iran would drive 11% of Israelis to consider emigrating. Of a Jewish population numbering about 6 million, that figure represents over 600,000 people. The political, social, and economic upheaval associated with this level of mass exodus would clearly be devastating for Israel. For some perspective, consider the impact on the US if over 30 million people suddenly chose to flee the country.
And of course, the poll in question was taken in June. As Iran approaches nuclear mastery, it is probably safe to assume that the number of Israelis wishing to leave the country will rise -- particularly as Iran would soon be free to order its terror proxies, Hamas and Hizbullah, to attack Israel with the impunity provided by a nuclear umbrella.
Macdonald suggests that Israelis would have to weigh several risks before deciding to strike Iran: 1) military retaliation by Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah, 2) economic and diplomatic retaliation by the US and/or Europe, and 3) the possibility of mission failure accompanied by numbers 1 and 2.
Yet the poll cited found that 59% of Israelis would support a pre-emptive attack on Iran should Western diplomacy fail to curb its uranium enrichment (this too, goes unmentioned by Macdonald). If Reuters has considered the risks associated with an Israeli strike, it is likely that Israelis have as well and notwithstanding, they overwhelmingly support pre-emptive defense.