The Myth of the Demographic Time-Bomb

Nov. 28 2016

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the combined Palestinian population of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, together with that of Israel’s Arab citizens, now equals the Jewish population of Israel. This information supports one of John Kerry’s favorite refrains—that Israel won’t be able to maintain its identity as a democratic Jewish state unless a Palestinian state is created, and soon. This argument is baseless, writes Gregg Roman, and not only because it is based on unreliable statistics:

For starters, the central underlying premise of this argument—that the combined ratio of Jews to non-Jews in Israel, [including] the West Bank and Gaza, matters—is laughably obsolete. There’s no more reason to include Gaza in the equation than to include Lebanon or Jordan: the Israeli occupation there ended a decade ago, and its 1.6 million residents are pretty much free to determine their own future but for the brutal rule of their own homegrown Islamist regime. . . .

The real question, then, isn’t what happens if Israel were suddenly to annex all territories where Palestinians live en masse, but what happens if it holds on to those territories that most Israelis want and can be easily defended? Jews currently make up roughly 80 percent of Israeli citizens, and there’s no reason to believe this figure will be appreciably affected by implementation of a final-status agreement. . . .

[Furthermore], Kerry seems blithely unaware that the birthrate of Israeli Jews, which reached a low of 2.6 in the 1990s, has been rising steadily in recent years, to 3.1 in 2015—the same as that of Israeli Arabs—even as Palestinian birthrates have steadily declined, to 3.7. With the highest birthrate in the developed world and substantial Jewish immigration adding to their ranks every year, Israeli Jews are not at risk of becoming a minority in the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately for Secretary Kerry, most Israelis are well aware that time is not running out on Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state. A democratic Jewish state is very much in existence and running strong. . . . Most Israelis couldn’t care less if Gazans or West Bankers choose to have slightly bigger families than the inhabitants of Tel Aviv. When John Kerry declares again and again that Israel is “out of time,” what he’s really doing is communicating to Palestinians that the much dreaded Jewish state next door will cease to exist if they simply continue their refusal to compromise.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at The Hill

More about: Demography, Israel & Zionism, Israeli democracy, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, John Kerry

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy