My question is this: What is Netanyahu thinking? Doesn’t he realize that time has nearly run out for the two-state solution, and that failure to achieve it is by far the most serious threat facing Israel? The prime minister and his allies keep harping about an “existential” threat from Iran, but this bogeyman is mostly nonsense. Iran has zero — repeat, zero — nuclear weapons today, and even if it were to acquire a few at some point in the future, it could not use them against nuclear-armed Israel without committing national suicide. Let me say that again: national suicide. And could someone please explain to Netanyahu that a group of devout Muslim clerics aren’t likely to fire warheads at a land that contains the third holiest site in Islam? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said some remarkably foolish things about the Holocaust and repeatedly questioned Israel’s legitimacy (as in his oft-mistranslated statement about Israel “vanishing from the page of time”), but he’s never threatened to murder millions of Israelis (and Palestinians) with nuclear weapons. Just last weekend, he even told ABC’s George Stephanopolous that if the Palestinians reached an agreement with Israel, then Iran would support it. Moreover, as Roger Cohen has noted, there is no evidence that Ahmadinejad has any particular animus toward Iran’s own Jewish community. Despite his many offensive statements, in short, Ahmadinejad is not Adolf Hitler and we are not living in the 1930s.
The real threat to Israel’s future is the occupation, and the conflict with the Palestinians that it perpetuates. To see that, all you have to do is look at current demographic trends and poll results and then ponder the consequences for Israel. There are presently about 5.6 million Jews in “Greater Israel,” (i.e., the 1967 borders plus the West Bank) and about 5.2 million Arabs (of whom nearly 1.5 million are citizens of Israel). Palestinian birth rates are substantially higher, however, which means they will be a majority of the population in “Greater Israel” in the not-too-distant future. To put it bluntly, it is Palestinian wombs and not Iranian bombs that pose the real threat.