Demography :  Ugly Obsession or No Problem at All

The preservation in Israel of a Jewish majority while at the same time keeping a semblance of democracy is the systemic puzzle that just can’t be solved. But as Ali Abunimah comments, instead of adapting its ideology to the facts, it attempts to fit the facts to the ideology. This involves watching birthrates, deciding not formally to annexe its conquered territories, devising apartheid-style schemes of “lesser citizenship”, and attempting to boost immigration of “Jews” even if they have to be converted en masse.

Easy Answer

The easy answer is one person one vote, backed up by an upper chamber with “a composition that safeguards both peoples equally, regardless of their numbers in the population. … constitutional provisions that safeguard the rights of minorities should be enshrined in a constitution that can only be amended or altered by both houses of parliament with a large (80%) majority.” (Jonathan Kuttab, see Binational: What’s That?) That way, if Jews or Palestinians had fewer babies and found themselves in a minority, they would not be at risk of a hostile takeover.

And yet, the Single State or Binational State is never ever mentioned without a heavy reminder that it would mean a Palestinian majority, a Jewish minority. And while any sane person can see that Palestinians are turning to a Single State because Two States is a dead duck, Israel thinks it’s because they want their babies to lord it over the Jews once they reach voting age.

Nor is the voting demography ever understood as other than an absolute, with two opposing blocks mustering every last vote against each other. But do Jews really need a built-in majority …  on road safety? On refuse collection? On green technology and climate change? On sports facilities? On taxation? On commerce? On trade union rights? On medical provision, clinics and hospitals? Etc.

Moving People like Pawns

Unlike South Africa, where blacks outnumbered whites by 3 or 4 to one and were bound to take over as soon as Apartheid ended, Jews and Palestinians are roughly in balance. Israel could have had it all: territory, peace, equality and respect. But they viewed sharing and cooperation even with parity as “losing everything”, and opted to continue to move borders and people like pawns, to assure continued dominance on the basis of race.

To the extent that Israel ever intended to allow a Palestinian state, it was not to satisfy their aspirations but, in Shimon Peres’ words “to rid ourselves of areas densely populated by Arabs”: i.e. to keep the maximum of land and the minimum of its people: “Arab” ghettoes with no hinterland to sustain them.

The Labour Party of the country that wraps itself in the mantle of Holocaust victims found itself warning that “in Israel and the territories together, there are more Arabs than Jews in kindergarten and first grade”.

Immigration to Israel is supposed to save Jews from persecution, prejudice, rootless wandering and always being an ethnic minority. This is the raison d’etre of Israel as a Jewish state, and its most sacred and sensitive topic.

But in practice the purpose of immigration is and has always been to establish and maintain the Jewish majority in Israel and, since 1967, in whatever parts of the occupied territories it manages to keep. But more large-scale immigration is now unlikely, and is often outweighed by those leaving. So another paradox is that the harder Israel struggles to maintain its Jewish majority, the more repellent it is becoming to Diaspora Jews.

Scraping the Immigration barrel

Disappointingly for Israel’s immigration ministry, 95% of Jews leaving Russia voted with their feet and went elsewhere, despite the achievement of direct flights from Moscow to Tel Aviv to prevent the “leakage” of Jews at European transit points, and visa and financial penalties if they tried to leave too soon.

Thousands of Russian Christians and Moslems got in instead, which was evidently OK, just as long as they weren’t Palestinians, who are not allowed to move from the occupied territories into Israel even if they are married to a Jewish Israeli. One couple simply were unable to live together: he was barred from Israel, she could not live in Ramallah. Meanwhile 100 Peruvians were converted to Judaism and airlifted to a West Bank settlement.

By another irony Germany now has the fastest growing Jewish population, while at any time some 15% of Israeli Jews are living abroad, and young Israelis are keen to acquire EU status.

Despite huge economic incentives, free holidays to attract American youngsters, and attempts to panic diaspora Jews by exaggerating and possibly even inventing anti-semitic incidents in their home countries, more Jews are leaving Israel than arriving.

Genetic Tinkering

In the wake of the Holocaust and its obscene genetic engineering projects, the UN in 1951 decreed that imposing or even inciting measures intended to prevent births within a specific “national, ethnical, racial or religious group” was a crime of genocide.

Yet the mad generals and professors of demography who cook up proposals to “restrict the birthrate in the Arab sector” (deemed “a backward population”) by means of “a stringent policy of family planning” get a polite hearing from top table conferences in Israel. It may only be a marker at this stage, but who can be sure that Israel, which has entirely lost its moral compass, will not be threatening its Palestinian citizens with “loss of benefits or jobs, or threat of exile” if they have more than one child. There are already in place large financial benefits reaped by orthodox Jews to support their huge families.

An article even appeared in Novosti, a leading Russian language journal suggesting cash be paid to young Arab men who volunteered for castration. It was later disowned by the editor as a mistake, but meanwhile not one complaint had been received from readers or leading members of the Russian community. This is not surprising, as the proposal was probably lost in the welter of  everyday talk about birthrates and demography that would be utterly shocking in most civilised countries today.

Main Source: Ali Abunimah, One Country


Loyalty Oaths and People Swaps

The Herzliya Conference, an annual security convention, launched in late 2000, set the ball rolling. Its theme was the danger posed by the growth of the Palestinian minority and its connections to its ethnic kin in the occupied territories. 

From this conference new kinds of legislative assault on the citizenship of Palestinians have emerged, including the amendments to the 1952 Nationality Law and a series of “loyalty” bills.

Avigdor Lieberman has exhumed the idea of transfer from the dark recesses of Zionism, freeing Israeli politicians to speak about it openly, especially as part of what may be presented as a potential “peace agreement” with the Palestinians of the occupied territories.

 In particular, he has made respectable the idea of transferring the Little Triangle, a small area of Israeli territory close to the West Bank and densely populated with 250,000 Palestinian citizens, to a future Palestinian state, thus moving the border round the people instead of driving the people over the border as Israel has done in the past. A variant of this was the concept coming from President Shimon Peres, holder of a post intended to embody the nation’s unity, to exchange Jewish settlement blocs in the occupied territories for Palestinian areas inside Israel.

 Lieberman also proposes to require a loyalty oath from Palestinian citizens who remain inside Israel, not to Israel but to “Israel as a Jewish state”. Those refusing would presumably be expelled. “He who is not ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state cannot be a citizen of the country.”

 Source: Jonathan Cook


An Alternative Loyalty Oath

The counter-proposal of One Democracy, One Solution could be a rallying point of mass refusal of  such an oath, and an alternative that Jewish Israelis could join in and sign up for. In fact why wait for Lieberman: why not start it now? Here’s a good example below.

Olga document for Truth and Reconciliation, for Equality and Partnership

In the face of the large Israeli camp of supporters of the separation walls—those, both right and left, who are terrified by the demons of demography, constantly counting the populace to find out how many Jews and Arabs are born and die every week, how many Jews and Arabs live in the entire country and in each of its districts every month—it is vital to pose an alternative outlook, based on the following principles: Coexistence of the peoples of this country, based on mutual recognition, equal partnership and implementation of historical justice.

Givat Olga, Israel 2004. See Documents for full text and signatories


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