Looks like the Mossad is sending Uzi Arad out front again to send a little message to the Palestinians, and to the Israelis as well.
Demography and demagoguery
By Uzi Arad Haaretz 6 August 2004
Yonatan Bassi, head of the disengagement administration, justified the
pullout plan (in Globes, July 29) by saying that in Gaza, "there used to be
600,000 Arabs. Now there are 1.4 million people there ... in a few more
years what happened to South Africa will happen to us. The UN will decide
that either we give the right to vote to everyone or we will be outcasts
from the family of nations. Absurdly, the greatest danger that could befall
us ... is that the intifada would end - because then we would fall asleep
and wake up to a binational state."
That is the entire apocalyptic demographic doctrine on one demagogic leg.
But that apocalyptic scenario has nothing at all to do with the evacuation
of Gaza. True, the disengagement plan makes claims about improving Israel's
demographic situation, but it is not clear how. Will the evacuation of 7,000
Israelis from Gaza change the estimate that there will be 2.3 million Arabs
there in 2020 or 5.1 million in 2050? Will giving up the disengagement plan
oblige Israel to grant the Palestinians the right to vote in Israel? Is it
plausible that the UN, which has always favored a two-state partition, would
convert to the one-state principle, against the majority of countries of the
world, including Israel and the U.S.?
In effect, for the last decade, all Israeli governments have been
implementing political disengagement from the Palestinian population of the
territories. The cities and towns of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have
long since been evacuated. The number of Palestinians between the river and
sea is no longer relevant to Israel being a Jewish democratic state. The
demographic process in the territories thus has become the main problem of
the Palestinians, who anyway are finding it difficult to build a properly
functioning administration and an economy that can sustain itself.
A population that doubles itself every generation and is unable to grow its
economy at a pace that keeps up with the demographic growth rate is dooming
itself to ever worsening poverty and backwardness. The problem of the
residents of Gaza is not "one man, one vote." In any case they have the
right to vote in Palestinian Authority institutions. The essence of the Gaza
problem was and remains "one man, one job," and the disengagement plan is
only going to aggravate that problem.
The Arab Human Development Report found that a third of the population in
the Arab world earns less than $2 a day. It's double that in Gaza. If they
wanted, the Palestinians could take a lesson from several states in the
region that managed to reduce their birth rates. While the current birth
rate among Palestinians is 5.9 children per woman (in Gaza, it reaches 6.6),
in Egypt it has dropped to 2.9, in Tunisia to 2.1, in Syria to 3.6, in
Lebanon to 2.2, and in Jordan to 4.3. Iran has also seen a dramatic drop to
2.1 children per woman. The international institutions that support the
Palestinians would do well by linking their support to more effective family
planning among Palestinians, as was demanded of Egypt.
It is also important that the American and European programs to advance the
Middle East, as formulated at various summits and inspired by the Arab Human
Development Report and which seek to improve freedoms, education and women's
status in the Arab world - reach the Palestinians as well. Such reforms,
alongside the reduction of the birth rate to the regional average, could
stabilize the Palestinians' demographic problem, which is more theirs than
it is Israel's at this point.
But it is already clear that, first of all, there is no point in waving
around an apocalyptic demographic scenario from which Israel already
extricated itself. And there certainly should not be any comparisons to
South Africa or hollow threats about a binational state, as the Palestinian
propagandists are prone to make. Certainly, one should not express hope for
the intifada to continue, not even for rhetorical purposes.
And secondly, if the Palestinians do not restrain their demographic growth,
and continue their armed and international campaigns against Israel, the
apocalypse could very well be theirs. It is in their interest and ours that
this does not happen.