Israel Braces for a Tough Year Ahead

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- As Israelis look forward to celebrating Rosh Hashanah this week, many believe the New Year could bring tough times.

The New Year is traditionally a time for optimism, but that's not the case in Israel right now.

"Israel today faces a combination of threats," Dan Diker, secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, told CBN News recently.

Threats on Every Side

Res. Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, director-general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said a nuclear-armed Iran poses the biggest threat to the Jewish state.

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"The biggest threats facing Israel now, I would say is the ongoing efforts of Iran to become [a] nuclear power…unfortunately it's going on without enough reaction from the international community," Kuperwasser said.

Diker said the Iranian threat can be felt on all sides.

"The physical, military defense-related threats are clear: Iran's Hezbollah in the north through 50,000 rockets; Iran's Sunni proxy in the south with over 10,000 rockets, many that can now hit Tel Aviv," Diker said.

Those aren't the only concerns for the man behind Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Deligitimizing Israel

"One of them is the instability of the region…third is the Palestinian unilateral attitude," Kuperwasser said.

"This is being reflected in the application by Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] for membership of a Palestinian state in the United Nations," he said.

And many believe this action at the U.N. is a big part of the plan to delegitimize Israel.

"It is little known in the international community that his is the infrastructure of the warfare against Israelis is this unilateral Palestinian gambit," he said.

Israelis' Outlook

Israelis are known for their resilience. So with all these challenges facing their country, CBN News asked them how they felt about the year ahead.

"This is the neighborhood that we are living around," Israeli Moni Saar responded.

"They don't want us here and I'm kind of pessimistic regarding the future - not of the strength of Israel, but the relationship with our neighbors," Saar said.

Israeli Yossi Meir is optimistic despite the challenges facing the nation.

"I think it's a time of uncertainty, but I think this time will pass and we'll see a change for the better," Meir said.

Judy Oren admitted that times are scary, but she said she's trusting the Lord.

"It's scary, but I put my faith in God, and I think we are strong and we'll know how to do but in (a) democratic way. We know what to do, but it's still very scary," she said.

Preparing for Uncertainty

While Israel is preparing itself for many possibilities, no one knows what lies ahead.

"There are so many scenarios that it's difficult to say what we are exactly preparing for," Kupperwasser said.

Diker said "anything is possible in the Middle East, from nothing happing to, God forbid, all-out war breaking out."

So as uncertainty overshadows the New Year celebration, Israel finds itself in the familiar position of hoping for peace while bracing for trouble.

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Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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