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Historically, several solutions have been proposed for resolving the Arab-Jewish conflict in the land of Israel (AKA Palestine). Each one has taken into account demographic considerations and no doubt each has been politically motivated: Zionist policy was to obtain a state that is primarily Jewish and democratic. A Jewish majority would be ensured by immigration of Jews from abroad. This entailed a partition of the land into Jewish and Arab states, or a Jewish state and areas controlled by Jordan and Egypt. Following World War II, this became a necessity even without taking into account Arab nationalist claims, because the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust meant that there could not be enough Jewish immigrants to maintain a decisive majority in all of the land West of the Jordan river. It soon became apparent as well, that explosive Arab population growth and perhaps significant immigration would eventually create an Arab majority between the (Jordan) river and the sea.

The Grand Mufti and the Arab states wanted to obtain a state in all of the land. That state would be Arab because all the Jews would be expelled or exterminated, or at least, Jewish immigration would be ended. To this end, the Mufti had apparently planned to build a death camp near Nablus. The fact is, that not one Jew remained in the areas taken over by Arab armies in 1948. In Gush Etzion over 100 were massacred and the rest "permitted" to leave. In Hebron no Jews remained. In the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem, Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Transjordan Legion - conducted out of the Jewish Quarter by force.

Likewise, small Jewish communities around Jerusalem such as Atarot, Neve Yaakov and the Ophel (Silwan) had to be abandoned, as well as others like Kfar Darom in the south. Those who talk about "Arab" Jerusalem should remember that before 1948 substantial numbers of Jews lived in East Jerusalem. "Arab" Jerusalem existed for only 19 years and it was enforced by racist ethnic cleansing and racist immigration and land purchase policies.

The one state solution has never been abandoned by the Arab side. With the addition of millions of refugees who claim "right of return," they reckon that they would have a majority in this state very soon.

Faced with the prospect of losing the West Bank, some extremist Jews (not all Zionist, perhaps) have also taken up the cause of the "one state solution". This would involve annexing the West Bank to Israel. The people who tell us that every Arab Palestinian is a potential suicide bomber, and that the most moderate among them wish to exterminate the Jews, want us to welcome them into our state and our society. Arabs can't be peace partners, but they can, according to the Jewish one-state advocates, be partners in building a Jewish state.

The proposal rests on three ideas:

Ignoring Gaza - The proposal to annex the West Bank assumes that the Arabs of Gaza - well over a million persons, can simply be ignored. This is not realistic. Those people will not evaporate. Gaza is not mentioned.

Apartheid State - In this state, Israeli "democracy and law" would supposedly be extended to the West Bank, but the Arabs of the West Bank would not immediately be given citizenship. If the Arabs are not given citizenship, then of course, Israeli democracy and law are not extended to the West Bank. A democracy in which some people cannot vote is not a democracy by modern standards, and by Israeli law, everyone who lives in the country can become a citizen and vote. According to the scheme, representatives would somehow be elected from the West Bank on a district basis. This is a charming idea. One wonders if each West Bank district will be apportioned representatives on the basis that 1 Arab = 3/5 of a person, as was done for African slaves in the original United State constitution. Even if the Israeli supreme court would be forced to accept such a plan, it is hard to imagine that any civilized country in the world would do so. It is hard to imagine that in this situation there would not be a huge Intifadah. This time the perpetrators would be able to cross into Israel with no problems and no controls. Hundreds of bombings and shootings would take place. Could anyone, indeed, blame a people who are thus disenfranchised? They would certainly get the vote -- sooner rather than later.

It is not hard to imagine that "with time" these Palestinian Arabs will grow to be "loyal citizens" of Israel. Of course, their concept of Israel will be different from that of the Jews somewhat. They will vote to abolish the Jewish Law of Return. They will vote to make the official language Arabic, and perhaps to put a crescent and a green stripe on the flag. They will vote to change the national anthem to "Biladi" ("My Homeland"). These are the sort of things that loyal Arab citizens of Israel would like to do, so we can assume that the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank would back the same ideas. The state could be either a state of the Jewish people or democratic, but even if there is only a large Arab minority, it could not be both. Of course, provided that they observed Muslim strictures, Jews would be allowed to practice their religion. It would be a "Jewish" and "democratic" state in the same way as Syria or Egypt or Iran are "Jewish" and "democratic."

Demography - The scheme tells us, referring to the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) studies, that "Israel and the West Bank have been demographically stable since 1967 and with proper governmental initiatives its Jewish majority will grow."

That statement is approximately correct regarding the ratio of Jews to Arabs in Israel. We have the following graph (source) :

From 1990 to 2006, the ratio of Jews to Arabs in Israel (excluding "others") "only" declined from 81.9% to 79.2%. In this period, however, about 1 million Jews from former USSR immigrated to Israel. When we consider that this huge one-time immigration did not put a dent in the ratio of Arabs to Jews, we can better appreciate the demographic problem in Israel itself, without even considering the West Bank. We cannot expect any such mass immigration in the foreseeable future.

The AIDRG group makes two major claims about demographics that are at variance with "accepted wisdom" and published statistics. The first is that Arab birthrate is falling dramatically whereas Jewish birthrate is rising, and this somehow accounts for the stabilizing population ratios, rather than the one million immigrants from former USSR. The second claim is that there are far fewer Arabs in the West Bank than there are generally assumed to be. The number of Arabs in the West Bank in 2006 cited by this source according to estimates accepted by the United States, is 2,385,615. AIDRG claims that there are actually 1.35 million Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank - a discrepancy of over a million!!! (see here slide #82). They claim that the difference is due to overcounting by the Palestinian authority, to double counting of Arabs in Jerusalem, counting of non-resident Arabs etc.

What are the facts? At present there are about 576,000 eligible Arab (including Druze) voters in Israel (see here, page 5). The Arabs of East Jerusalem, double counted or not, cannot vote. In the Palestinian authority elections of 2005 there were 968,362 eligible Arab voters (see here, p 78). We can see immediately that adding 968,362 eligible voters to the existing 576,000 Arab voters would revolutionize Israeli political life. Moreover, these are not our friends from Abu Ghosh, or the Druze of Carmiel or Daliyat al Karmil or the Arabs of Nazareth, who vote for the the Arab parties or for the Labor party or Meretz or Likud in about equal numbers. I don't bet there are many Likudniks in Nablus! In the best case, they will vote for people like citizen Farouk Kadoumi, and citizen Omar Barghouti - Palestinian radicals in the Fatah/PLO. Nor should we imagine that those Palestinian Arabs living abroad, as refugees in Iraq or working for a pittance in other countries, would not return, along with the Palestinian intellectual leadership living in the United States and Europe. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Nadia abu El Hajj, Joseph Massad, Rashid Khalidi and many other lovers of Zion would all become Israeli political leaders. That is the political reality of the vaunted Jewish one state solution. It is an optimistic picture, provided that the Arabs of the West Bank would be given the right to vote and would all be content to work through the ballot box. These same people who want a one-state solution insist that a Palestinian state would be a state of terrorists. But what will make the Palestinian Arabs NOT be terrorists in a state where they are disenfranchised?? Wouldn't they all be eager "customers" for Syrian army intelligence, for the Iranian Basij and Al-Qaeda? How many votes does a suicide bomber have, and how do you count them?

From the figure of 968,362 eligible voters in 2006, we can also estimate the total population of the West Bank, because we know that those under 18 are about 51% of the population. Therefore, by those Palestinian election figures given by AIDRG for 2005, we can estimate that there were 1,976,249 Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, and not 1.35 million as they say. Together with Israeli Arabs (1.15 million after subtracting 250,000 in Jerusalem) we would have about 3.1 million Arabs in Israel and the West Bank, and those from the West Bank would have a large number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad sympathizers. That is the static picture today. But we must add a few facts to this. After the great rise in fertility of Israeli Jews and decline in that of Israeli Arabs, the situation, as we can see here that in 2005 there were 105,200 Jewish birth and 38,800 Arab births in Israel - But there are far fewer Arabs! That means that the Israeli Arab birth rate per thousand, is about 1.5 times that of the Israeli Jewish birthrate. That is in Israel. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Arab birthrate is even higher. While Israeli birthrate overall is about 18 per thousand, in the West Bank, birthrate is over 33 per thousand. We cannot safely anticipate a rising Jewish birthrate and a falling Arab one, because while only about 41% of Israeli Jews are in the 0-24 age group (see Israel CBS Data), About 62% of Palestinian Arabs are in this age group in the West Bank, according to the AIDRG group's own data (see slide 104 here ). Over the next 15 years that very young population is going to be having babies. No matter how much anyone might wish it to be otherwise, and despite biblical miracles, few women over age 39 give birth.

As I would not want to live as part of a disenfranchised minority - or majority - in an Arab state, I do not think that it is fair to wish that fate on the Arabs of the West Bank, nor would I be willing to abide by such an arrangement for long.

Moral considerations aside, even the most gung-ho Jewish "patriot" who has no regard at all for the wishes or rights of the Palestinian Arabs, has to understand that a Jewish one-state solution that incorporates the West Bank in Israel would be the end of Zionism.

It all comes down to this: you can't have a democracy where a large number of people are not allowed to vote, and you can't get more babies just by screwing with the data.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 7 Comments

Dear Rod,

Fact - we only have 7 million people in Israel. Arithmetic is arithmetic.

Ami Isseroff, Thursday, January 24th

Dear Ami: If history has anything to teach us it is that we have always had tens of millions of people to lose. Our propensity to sacrifice one another in pursuit of the absurd is almost boundless. But in essence I agree with you, we don't want to have to repeat history in order to obtain some resolution to these problems.
Perhaps the most useful thing the Israeli government could do would be to initiate debate via the airwaves about what the future might hold and what the options are. Perhaps PC games where the players can pursue various options to their logical / illogical end could be fed distributed to young people in both nations to challenge their current ideas.
So long as we allow people to believe that they can get everything they want through violence and fascism, then they will go for it because it is alluringly simple. The infantilisation of the masses is a depressing characteristic of much of the activities of the so-called "Friends of Palestine / Israel".

Rod Davies, Thursday, January 24th

Racism is not a part of Zionism, so Tzofiya's solution can be eliminated.

Rod seems to me to be (almost) right. Almost is not good enough though. We don't have 10s of millions of people to lose in a war. The Gaza disengagement taught us that we cannot abandon territory without a political solution. A Gaza in the W. Bank would be a disaster.
A State of Judea such as the one proposed by Southernwolf would last about a week. If Israel did not come to its rescue the Jewish inhabitants of this "state" would be liquidated by the Arabs.

Ami Isseroff, Tuesday, January 22nd

Whatever solution is found it has to be one that both sides can own. A single state achieved by the merger of Israel, West Bank and Gaza would be economically and socially dominated by the Israelis at the outset. Why should the more affluent and productive Israelis "subsidise" the Palestinians who have "chosen" to dissipate their economic resources on a futile war and failed to invest in their society? Are the Palestinians to have equal share in the commonwealth of Israel, when their own national assets are so paltry? Then again which constitution should become that of this single nation, Israel's or Palestine's? Are the various arms of the Palestinian security forces to be integrated into the IDF, and on what basis will the officers be promoted to commander? But if the Palestinians can't share in the commonwealth and have complete equality why should they seek to support and sustain the state?

The Single State fantasists dream of a world in which the object of their opprobrium simply votes itself into oblivion and leaves. The reality is that both Israelis and Palestinians are there to stay - not because they necessarily want to but because no country on earth will take them in en-masse. The USA nor EU will not accept & absorb 6 million Israeli Jews or similar number of Palestinians, and neither will the Arab states accept & absorb them.
The best option is to facilitate the creation of an independent Palestine so that the Palestinians can forge their own future on their own. I think that also the Israelis need a period of disengagement for them to revisit and reassert the vision and ideals that they once espoused for a better society. Perhaps this entails accepting for a while that their Arab neighbours just aren't ready yet to accept Israel and for Israel to concentrate its energies elsewhere. If evacuating the West Bank and dividing Jerusalem in some way enables the IDF to reduce its manpower requirements, Israelis will be able to enjoy some measure of a "peace bonus" and use it to invest in its society. The same would apply to the Palestinians.
And maybe, if whichever God you believe in is willing, Jordan Palestine and Israel might come together once stability has been achieved and establish something akin to the Benelux states.

Unfortunately I suspect that somewhere in between will be a savage and bloody war in which both sides will suffer enormously. Don't forget that it took many tens of millions of deaths in WW1 & 2 to convince Europeans that war isn't such a good idea. And as yet, despite all the reportage, no Middle Eastern capital has experienced the intensity of WW2 bombing. I now believe that until the entire civilian population tastes the horror of war it will continue to dream that war can deliver national ambitions - I wish it were otherwise.

Rod Davies, Tuesday, January 22nd

The best solution to the Israel-Arab conflict is two states: Israel and Judea, with Judea in what is erroneously called the West Bank. Two Jewish states side by side in peace is far better than one Jewish state next to an enemy "Palestinian" state. The Arabs have turned down a state too many times. Jews need to take the initiative and establish a second Jewish state, which is the way it was long ago.

Southernwolf, Thursday, January 17th

As I review this essay I am reminded of what Samuel said to King Saul, as to the real crux of the matter for why Saul would loose his kingdom, it says "Key chaa-taat ke-sem meh-ree ve-aah-ven oo-teh-raa-feem haa-fe-tzar ya-aan maa-ah-se-taa et de-var Adony vaa-yee-m-ah-se-cha me-melech" it's been translated in the Soncino translation as " For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord he hath also rejected thee from being king." but as with Hebrew it is much more. In modern parlance it says "your actions and solutions are conjured from your own hubris, your rationalizations, your own mental inventions assert that you are even more righteous than the Lord, you have no right to rule Israel, and now I am against you to pull you down by the consequences of your own actions" Sorry Ephraim but your going to get hoisted on your own petard now.

Larry Riteman, Tuesday, January 15th

If Samaria and Judea were annexed with the current Arab residents, what you say would certainly be the case. A single Jewish state would only work if the Arab residents were no longer residents. If you want to be hard nosed and practical, this is hard nosed and practical. This has been done in all of the surrounding Arab countries in reverse: Jews being forced to leave those countries for ethnic, religious and political reasons. The deported Jews were not even doing violence or attempting to destroy the states they were expelled from, in contrast to the "Palestinian" Arabs. Ethnic cleansing and population transfers are an ancient Mideastern and European tradition. Likewise Israel has forcibly removed large Jewish populations from their homes and towns, and plans to do much more of that. If populations will be transferred for peace, as you apparently take to be a given, why only Jews, and not Arabs? Because Jews will go and Arabs will fight? That is not good grounds for a peaceful solution to any problem. Why? Because if you give in to aggression, the aggression continues and grows stronger. There is the two state solution, of course. It is no better, because it fails to take into account the current performance of the other side and their desires. As they say, their desire is not to have a state, but to destroy a state. This is the goal of the leadership, which is supported by a large majority of the populace, and must be dealt with realistically and not wishfully.

Tzofiya, Monday, January 14th

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