Posts Tagged ‘Israel’s demographic dilemma’

Gaza and Israel’s demographic dilemma

June 11, 2010

I have long interpreted Israel’s policies toward the civilian populations of Gaza and the West Bank as expressions of blind rage, provoked by Palestinian terrorist attacks which also are expressions of blind rage. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they are based on an evil logic.

One of Israel’s long-range problems is the so-called demographic dilemma – the fact that the Palestinian Arab birth rate exceeds the Israeli Jewish birth rate so that, in time, the Arabs will be a majority in the territories ruled by Israel – Israel proper plus the West Bank and Gaza. To counter this the government of Israel tries to encourage Jewish immigration from Russia and other countries.

But there is something else that Israel can do to resolve the demographic situation, and that is Palestinian Arab emigration. The Israeli government blockade of Gaza does not make any sense in military terms; few of the embargoed products has any military use. But it does have the effect of making the lives of the people of Gaza so miserable that they will use any opportunity to leave.  Expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank serves the same purpose.

You could view Hezbollah and Hamas terrorism as mirror images of this policy. Random attacks on Israeli civilians do not impair the Israeli government’s military capability nor do they make the Israeli government more willing to negotiate. But the creation of a climate of fear and uncertainty would discourage immigration into Israel and encourage emigration.

If this interpretation is correct, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is going to go on and on and on until the two sides realize that neither one is going to drive the other out, and they have to figure out how to live together.