Fact: While many media outlets and politicians often state that Iran is an “existential threat” to Israel, many senior Israeli defense officials argue this simply isn’t true.
Prominent Israeli defense and intelligence officials have stated that Iran poses some threat to Israel, but that it is not an “existential threat” to Israel:
- Ephraim Halevy, former Director of the Mossad: “[Iran] is far from posing an existential threat to Israel.” (YNet, ‘Iran far from posing existential threat’; November 4, 2011)
- Tamir Pardo, current Director of the Mossad: “Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely. But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That’s not the situation. The term existential threat is used too freely.” (Haaretz, Mossad Chief: Nuclear Iran not necessarily existential threat to Israel; December 29, 2011)
Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister: “Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel.” (Reuters, Report: Barak says Iran is not existential threat to Israel; September 17, 2009)
- Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister: “I don’t think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, (would) drop it in the neighborhood. They fully understand what might follow. They are radical but not totally crazy. They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process, and they understand reality.” (USA Today, Israeli official doubts Iran would nuke his country; February 26, 2012)
Israeli official have even argued that warnings of an “existential threat” are misleading and perhaps even a misguided attempt to encourage a strike on Iran:
- Dan Halutz, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Force and Commander of the Israeli Air Force: “Iran poses a serious threat, but not an existential one. The use of this terminology is misleading. If it is intended to encourage a strike on Iran, it’s a mistake. Force should be exerted only as a last resort.” (YNet, Former IDF Chief: Iran doesn’t pose an existential threat; February 2, 2012)