So You Want To Know What Israelis Think About Iran?

People seem to be asking a lot of questions about Iran lately. Actually, people seem to be asking me a lot of questions about Iran lately.

When I travelled to the United States a couple of months ago, people asked me for my thoughts on the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel. I answered them, although I hadn’t given it much thought. In Israel some friends and colleagues have asked me. However, it seems that only tourists or new immigrants are those that ask. Having lived in Israel for 22 years and having lived through several wars, I don’t really think about it and I guess other veterans and sabras don’t either – or at least we’re not talking about it. We go on with life. It’s what we do. The Iranian nuclear threat against Israel is part of the reality of living here. There are nation-states with military forces that want to destroy us. That’s a given. So what?

So we do what we need to defend ourselves and we live life.

Six hundred and thirty-six people died in car accidents in New Jersey last year. Does that mean you are not going to get into a car? No! It means you are going to get in a car. You may even follow the rules, put on a seat belt and drive carefully. But you are getting in the car! You don’t stop living life because you might die.

You will die! The question then becomes how will you live.

If you spent your time worrying about the statistics of fatalities on the roads, you might not get in that car. Similarly, I don’t think about the Iranian threat to Israel on a daily basis. I am much more concerned with planning my company’s expansion, my son’s bar mitzvah and choosing the right school which will help my youngest son blossom as he begins first grade in the Fall. These are the things that keep me up at night; not Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Instead of worrying about “what if,” Zionists have always dreamed of “what if.”

I believe this way of thinking has helped Israel – and Israelis – survive in such a hostile environment. Israel has always had an ad-hoc culture. Part of this is because we have lived in a tenuous position, not knowing what the next day would bring, and part of this is because we have diverted resources to defense instead of long-term strategic planning. (“Long-term” being a relative phrase.) However, now with threats to our lives felt less immediately on a day-to-day basis and with more resources and a much more stable economy, Israel is still very ad-hoc. There are advantages to this way of being.

Ironically, in the world of high-tech ventures this model is a paradigm for start-ups the world over and Israel leads the way. What was at one point seen as short-sighted is now being emulated by business leaders who have replaced rigid specifications and thought-out processes with “agile” environments. There is a business model in which companies work with what resources they have “bootstrapping” from one development stage to the next as they grow their business. Many successful companies go even further by bringing together a great group of people to work together without knowing what their product will be. All of this can be likened to the process Israel has gone through.

Whether in business, in our own self-evaluations or in the life of our country, a positive attitude and determination is a key factor not only to survive, but to exceed all expectations and to flourish in order to achieve something great.

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that over 50% of small businesses fail in their first five years. And yet, incredibly, people open new businesses every day. They dream.

Were we to worry about looming threats, we would never leave the house. In January, over thirty people were murdered in Philadelphia. That’s an average of more than one each day. For me, as an Israeli, that is a terrifying statistic. You are almost three times more likely to be the victim of an intentional homicide in the United States than in Israel, but will that stop you from going to the city? You don’t stop living your life.

In Israel, it is true that there is a threat from Iran developing nuclear capabilities, but we do not live our lives cowering from threats. We trust in our defense establishment just as you trust in law enforcement. Perhaps we are both naive. However, I would prefer to live my life building a future full of promise instead of living in fear.

Maybe in the end, I would live longer and be safer if I was more fearful, but what would the quality of that life be and what would I achieve? How would you enjoy your life if you never left your home for fear of dying in a car accident, being murdered or having your business fail? How would you enjoy your life if you thought about these things each day?

Take the leap of faith. I appreciate your concern. I really do! But I plan on being around for a long, long time living in Jerusalem, building Israel and enjoying watching my children grow into adults. What is happening in Israel is fantastic – even miraculous. Every day in Israel our existence is against all odds. I see no reason why that should change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *