The Disengagement from Gaza
By Sam Jordan, IRIS staffer
The simple truth, and the simple way to fix the problem.
One thing that I have not been able to figure out is what the point is of the Disengagement. For a long time I have carefully searched for a good reason to do it. I have read what the pro-Disengagement people say earnestly looking for *some* reason why this won't be a disaster. Seriously. Is there *any* reason why this is a good idea?
What the pro-Disengagement people say is usually just a rehash of the pre-Oslo opinions/predictions of the Left. "There will be quiet." "It will be in Abbas' interest to keep things quiet." "Once they have to run their own affairs they will be forced to focus on that instead of fighting us." "Once they are on one side and we are on the other they will have no reason to / will not be able to attack us." Whatever.
These predictions are being bandied about even though we *know* that they have been proven false again and again. We are *already* being shelled and rocketed after giving the Arabs of Gaza some autonomy. More autonomy obviously will mean more attacks, just like every time the PA is (re-)given control of a city it results in more terror coming from that city.
How can people continue to mouth the same lines when they have been proven incorrect so many times? Many of them even admit they were wrong in the past. But *this* time will be different (they hope).
In the case of Disengagement, the obvious pitfalls easily rebut all the supporting theories that people are saying. This leads leads me to believe that this is a case of an underlying reason at work. I can't see any other way to explain the irrational actions and statements of otherwise rational people.
In my opinion, there is one, and only one, real reason why people want to "disengage" from Gaza. It is because they want to be rid of the Arabs there no matter what. Some of them want this because they don't like occupying them and some want it because of eventual demographic problems, namely that they fear there will one day be more Arabs here than Jews. But the bottom line is that they want to have nothing to do with these people. Since they see no viable way to stay in Gaza and retain all those Arabs they just want out.
People need some tangible hope that things will get better if we stick it out. Emphasis on the word *tangible*. And they feel that due to the demographic threat time is working against us, so eventually we will have to get out of Gaza, if not all of the territories. So why wait until there are even more settlers there and it is even harder to leave?
Is it unreasonable to ask for someone to give a reasonable answer to this question? I don't think so.
So here it is:
The answer is that there really is no demographic problem. We don't have to fear that we will one day become a minority in our own country. Time is on our side, not theirs. So we can keep all the territories indefinitely.
Let me explain.
The Arabs in Gaza are coming from a Third World background. They live (or used to live) in Third World conditions and have (or used to have) Third World birth rates. But their encounter with Israel has given them the health care and improved sanitary conditions that has lowered their mortality rates to that of the First World. Hence their population growth.
Is it reasonable to assume that their Third World birth rates will continue forever alongside their First World mortality rates? No.
A recent report found at http://www.pademographics.com/ detailed the fallacy of the demographic time-bomb, countering point-by-point the Palestinian Authority's projected population growth of Arabs living in Greater Israel. It is unfortunate that the report did not receive greater attention as the PA's projections are the basis for the latest wave of demographic doomsday predictions which have occurred every 5 or 10 years since 1967. But while the report's detailed analysis is useful, what is perhaps the most important part of the report can be summed up in one sentence:
The Arab birthrate is dropping fast and will soon be on par with the Jewish birthrate in Israel.
In fact, the whole "demographic time bomb" argument is based on the absurd notion that the Arabs of Palestine would be different than just about every other nation on earth that has encountered modernity. In other words, it assumed that they would continue to have lots of babies even as their mortality rates dropped and life expectancies increased. This assumption was made even though it was known that the Arab birth rate has been dropping for years, probably for decades. It was made even though similar trends have been seen in Egypt, Jordan and even fundamentalist Iran.
On the flip side, the Jewish birthrate in Israel will probably go up as the religious segment of the population, which has more children that the Arabs do, continues to grow. As the Arab birthrate decreases to point where it is roughly the same as the Jewish birthrate, migration patterns will become even more important in determining the ultimate demographic balance in Greater Israel. If the pattern of the last 60 years is any indication there will be positive net Jewish immigration into Israel and positive net Arab emigration out of Israel, especially if the government pursues the right policies vis-a-vis both Jews and Arabs. In other words, there will probably be more Jews than Arabs in Greater Israel, forever.
So there you have it. There is not demographic time bomb. Time is on our side. We might have to be patient and strong for a while, maybe even decades. But there is hope. It won't be easy, but there is certainly no need for wild gambles like the withdrawal from Gaza.
This is an argument that gets to the real heart of the issue instead of addressing the symptoms. I believe it would have quite a lot of influence on everyone except for the extreme Left. Why aren't more people making it?
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