by Gideon Sa'ar
For some reason, however, there are those among us who would rather rely on dubious statistics provided by the Palestinians that they purposely inflated.
I was reminded of the Yiddish saying "bubba maisa" (which translates into something like old wives tales) when I read the apocalyptic headlines this week warning that the number of Jews and Arabs in Israel were approaching parity, or perhaps already equal.
I specifically recalled a common trope that revolves around the stupidity of the inhabitants of Chelm, a Polish town of well-wishing fools who consider themselves enlightened. In reality, however, they consistently exacerbate problems by misunderstanding essential facts or create new problems by trying to fix that which is not broken. Just like the fools in these tales, those who use demographics to say "Keep out!" are not really interested in understanding the facts. The truth is we have never enjoyed a better demographic situation: Jewish fertility rates are constantly on the rise, having passed Arab fertility rates in 2017 in the whole country, including Judea and Samaria. Along with Jewish immigration to Israel, this means the Jewish majority will only grow in the future.
For some reason, however, there are those among us who would rather rely on dubious statistics provided by the Palestinians that they purposely inflated. In the Palestinian Authority's fake registry, for example, a Palestinian who has lived in Brazil for 20 years is counted. By the same token, we can easily count every Israeli that has emigrated, which would add some 600,000 or more.
The real question here is why are we even bothering to count the Palestinians living in territories from which we withdrew a generation ago that are no longer under our control? For Israel disconnected from the Palestinian population in two moves: establishing the PA in the 1990s through the Oslo Accords and unilaterally withdrawing from the Gaza Strip in 2005. One of the main justifications for these moves was demographics. Today, almost the entire Palestinian population is under Palestinian control – either under the PA in Judea and Samaria or under Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
So why do we hear the same alarming tune after withdrawing? Should we, by the same token, add the number of Arabs on the other side of the Jordan River as well?
That being said, the argument that we must separate for demographic reasons is being used we already separated. Those addicted to pulling back no longer demand additional separation from the Arab population, but rather a widespread uprooting of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country.
But if we are indeed dealing with demographics, how will the establishment of such a state influence the demographic future of the land of Israel? In the current state of affairs, Israel is the sole authority controlling the country's borders. From the moment the Palestinians have the authority and power to determine who enters the country, expect a population wave of Arabs to gush in from all over.
Just recently, PA President Mahmoud Abbas demanded 400,000 Palestinian "refugees" from Syria be "absorbed" into PA territory. Contrary to all accepted international definitions of refugee status, for Palestinians being a refugee is passed down forever. According to their reckoning, there are millions of Palestinian refugees who, if all goes to plan, will return after their state is established. Not only them, however – we must assume zealous Islamist extremists from all over the world will flow to such a Palestinian state, as it will be the front line in the struggle against the "Zionist entity." They will all gather here, just a few miles away from our major population centers. This will be an inglorious reversal that compromise nearly every achievement the Zionist enterprise has obtained.
To put it simply, besides the loss of security we will experience, God forbid, a sovereign Palestinian state would also mean the loss of demographic control. In fact, the establishment of a Palestinian state is the only way the Jewish majority in Israel will be lost. Not only does establishing such a state not solve the demographic problem, it is actually what causes it. And what will our own sages of Chelm tell us then? Certainly more material for superstitious folk tales.
Gideon Sa'ar is a former minister and a member of the Likud party.
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