August 17, 2005
There's an awful lot of emotion ~ anger, suffering, hopes and dreams, realized and not ~ in that word. We're watching it play out across the news channels, talk shows, newspapers and blogs, and everyone's got an opinion on why and what happens now. Zipping around this morning, I came across one of Stephen Green's late night ramblings and it reminded me of something Major Dad had pointed out in Sunday's Pravda. I haven't seen these points anywhere in the rancorous back and forth, so I thought I'd do a little digging to see if this was an aberration. It's not. And they're not. These immutable numbers may well be the underpinnings of what makes the Gaza dream untenable*.
Why 'Greater Israel' Never Came to Be
By ETHAN BRONNER
FOR those who long considered it folly to settle a handful of Jews among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the decision to remove them starting this week seems an acceptance of the obvious. What possible future could the settlers have had? How could their presence have done the state of Israel any good?
But for those, like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who created and nurtured the settlements, the move to dismantle them is something very different. It is an admission not of error but of failure. Their cherished goal - the resettlement of the full biblical land of Israel by contemporary Jews - is not to be. The reason: not enough of them came...
...The failure has two main sources. First, contrary to the expectations of the early Zionists, as Ambassador Mekel noted, most of the world's Jews have not joined their brethren to live in Israel. Of the world's 13 million to 14 million Jews, a minority - 5.26 million - make their home in Israel, and immigration has largely dried up. Last year, a record low 21,000 Jews immigrated to Israel.
Of course, Israel is a remarkably successful state, a democracy with a high standard of living and many proud accomplishments. Yet the misery that Zionists expected Jews elsewhere to suffer has not materialized. More than half a century after the establishment of the Jewish state, more Jews live in the United States than in Israel.
UPDATE: The Gateway Pundit has some heart breaking pictures.
The second explanation for the shift in settlement policy is that the Palestinian population has grown far more rapidly - and Palestinians have proved far more willing to fight - than many on the Israeli right had anticipated. On Thursday, the newspaper Haaretz reported that the proportion of Jews in the combined population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza had dropped below 50 percent for the first time. This means, many Israelis argue, that unless they yield territory, they will have to choose a Jewish state or a democratic one; they will not be able to have both.
The luxury Israel doesn't have is: Space. Israel has 20,330 square miles of land – the entire country is smaller than New Jersey. And by giving up Gaza, Israel just gave up land the size of two largish cities.
...which makes perfect sense until you learn that Israel barely has the population of 'two largish cities' (6,199,008 ~ July 2002 est.), while New Jersey has a quarter again MORE people, with no borders to police and nobody blowing themselves up on city buses on a regular basis. There is a very concerned hierarchy in Israel worried about a diminishing Jewish demographic¹.
If the non-Jewish population continues to outpace Jewish population growth, Israel could become an underdeveloped Third World country by 2020, a population expert predicts.
That’s the warning being sounded by University of Haifa's professor Arnon Sofer. He says there is now a demographic balance in the number of Jews and non-Jews in the region from the Jordan River to the coast and running the length of Israel from north to south.
"Today, there are 5 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews. The latter figure is composed of 4.5 million Arabs and the remainder non-Jewish immigrants, mainly from the former Soviet Union, and foreign workers," he told the Jerusalem Post.
By the year 2020, he forecasts about 6.4 million Jews, based on population growth and an average 50,000 Jewish immigrants a year. He expects the Arab population to reach around 8.5 million, in addition to 1 million non-Jews of other origins.
They simply don't have the assets to defend their...assets. The depth of the Palestinian determination was a nasty shock...
(NYT)A senior Israeli official who spent years closely associated with Likud leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said that Israelis long had little respect for Palestinians as fighters, but that had changed.
"The fact that hundreds of them are willing to blow themselves up is significant," he said. "We didn't give them any credit before. In spite of our being the strongest military power in the Middle East, we lost 1,200 people over the last four years. It finally sank in to Sharon and the rest of the leadership that these people were not giving up."
...and the years of continual violence have taken their toll not only on the every day Israeli, but on the front line defense forces that protect them.
(NYT)Mr. Rabin himself said that he decided to negotiate a withdrawal with the Palestinians when he realized how unpopular military service in Gaza had become.
"He said privately - I heard him say it - that military reservists don't want to serve in the occupied territories and while they are not formally refusing they are finding excuses to stay away," Yoel Esteron, managing editor of Yediot Aharonot, recalled. "That put a real burden on the army and it meant we couldn't stay there forever."
And there have to be more heartrending decisions to come, for numbers themselves don't lie. When all the rhetoric clears, you're left with ugly choices the numbers force you into. What to give up, what to hold fast to, what to keep Israel Israel? American Jews are not giving up life in New York or Chicago, or anywhere, to move to Tel Aviv.
"Yet the misery that Zionists expected Jews elsewhere to suffer has not materialized".
And thank God it has not! But that has left a state founded ~ and still dependant ~ on immigration in a desperate, desperate way. I hope to God there's an answer for it in there somewhere. No one doubts the courage and tenacity of the Israelis and their indomitable national sense of self. The anguish on the faces of the Gaza settlers, however, may be nothing compared to what's to come, if there's no reversal in the numbers. As much as the state, the dream itself has betrayed them, by it's very unsustainability. By the numbers.
* Main Entry: un·ten·a·ble
1 : not able to be defended
2 : not able to be occupied
¹Israel's Population Bomb in Reverse, Phil Brennan, NewsMax.com,
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2002
Posted by tree hugging sister at August 17, 2005 12:41 PM